You love your hardwood floors. You spent a lot of money on them and you could sit and gaze at the reflection of the fireplace in them for hours. But wait, the boards aren’t fitting as tightly and they did when the floor was first installed. Gaps are starting to open up. Now what do you do?
It’s pretty common for gaps to open up in a hardwood floor especially if it wasn’t installed properly or if flooring with the wrong moisture content for your climate was used. As wood flooring dries out and loses moisture it shrinks. The more moisture it loses, the more it shrinks. When buying wood flooring, it’s important to check the moisture content of the wood to ensure that there will be a minimum amount of shrinkage.
So, if your hardwood floors do shrink and unsightly gaps open up, is there anything you can do about it?
When spaces start to open up it’s best to deal with it as soon as possible. As humidity levels change in your home throughout the year, it’s not unusual for gaps to open up in your floor. Air is drier during winter so that’s when gaps usually appear. During the more humid spring and summer, gaps will usually close up on their own. Using a humidifier and maintaining a relative humidity of between 40% and 50% in your home all year around could eliminate gaps.
If stabilizing the humidity at optimum levels doesn’t eliminate gaps, more extreme measures may be required. The action you take is determined by the size and number of gaps and how sound the floor is otherwise. If there are many gaps, they’re very wide, or the boards are loose it may be necessary to lift the floor and reinstall it.
If there are a few large gaps in an otherwise sound floor, they can be filled with shims, thin strips of wood, or rope stained to match the rest of the floor. Putty is sometimes used but if the expansion and contraction of the floor isn’t eliminated, putty tends to crack or to be pushed out of the gaps by the expanding boards.
When you’re having wood floors installed, visit a Timber Town location near you for expert advice and flooring that’s perfectly suited for Calgary’s climate.