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Gapping on Wood Flooring - Part 1 - Installation Gaps
Gaps caused by errors in installation technique can often be seen immediately, or within a few days of laying the flooring. The gaps will usually be relatively small, usually less than 2mm in size. A slight side bend of the flooring plank, can also contribute to this problem. This is where the plank may not be completely straight. Applying correct installation methods can help to eradicate the problem from occurring at a later time.
Causes / Avoidance
Failure to pull the boards tight together to form a tight join are just one of a number of reasons why gapping may take place. If this is the case, a tapping block and rubber mallet should be used during installations, with an adhesive which will assist creating a tight join.
The separation of boards due to either people moving on, or objects being moved across the floor before the adhesive has sufficiently dried will also result in gaps appearing. Fitters should avoid working on adhesive bonded flooring to prevent boards moving apart and causing such an issue. Tape can be used to eliminate minor shifting or gapping during installation.
Ensure that you check the manufacturer's instructions in order to see how long after installation, the flooring will be ready for use. An abnormal delay in the drying of adhesive can contribute to gapping of wood flooring.
Gaps may also occur if there is a slight side bend over the length of a flooring board, and mainly affects products of a longer length. This fault will be seen as a gap in the middle of the board on one side and occasionally on the opposing side at the ends. Boards that have been identified as having slight side bend can be repaired by one of two ways. It should either be cut in half in order to reduce the gap size to an acceptable amount or, if the flooring is being nailed down, using specialised tools such as a "Power-Jack” may give you the option to straighten the plank before it is fixed in place.
Accidental gaps present at the time of installation can usually be mended by using a filler. For best results, it is advised that a filler that matches the colour of wood used in the flooring. Small gaps are often best left untouched as they provide floor with some of the woods characteristic features.