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If you’ve ever installed hardwood flooring in your home, you know it isn’t cheap. So when you notice gaps in your floor, it can be pretty alarming. But before you start calculating how much it will cost to rip everything up and start over, consider making a minor repair. Just make sure you follow our advice to keep from causing more damage!

What Causes Gaps in Hardwood Flooring?

Gaps in hardwood floors are usually caused by fluctuations in humidity. Wood is a natural material and it expands and contracts with changes in temperature and moisture. When humidity or temperature fluctuates drastically or suddenly, it can cause warping in the wood boards, which makes them pull away from each other, leaving gaps behind. 

Gaps are usually most noticeable in bathrooms, kitchens where there are more daily moisture and temperature fluctuations.

Prevent Gaps if Possible

Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you already have gaps in your hardwood floor. But an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure when it comes to hardwood flooring. So keep reading to ensure that you can keep the rest of your flooring safe after you make your repairs!

A great way to ensure that your hardwood floors don’t gap is to acclimate the wood to your home before installing the boards. Have your installer do a humidity level test. If the humidity is extremely high or low, you may want to consider a different type of flooring like tile, which is less reactive. 

If you’re set on hardwood, make sure that you leave the boards unwrapped in your home in the room where they will be installed for at least a week and up to ten days.  

If you inherited your hardwood floors, consider adding a humidifier to your furnace or a dehumidifier to your HVAC system to keep fluctuations down and prevent gaps from appearing. 

How to Fill Floorboard Gaps

If you already have gaps, make sure you fill them as soon as possible to prevent more gaps from forming. The sooner you catch and repair the damage, the less time and money it will cost to fix the problem. 

You can fill the gaps with either wood strips or putty. 

Wood Strips

This method involves more expertise and comfort with using power tools like a table saw. Please note that ripping thin strips of wood can be very dangerous so seek professional help if you’re not comfortable with table saws!

The best material to use is leftover wood from your existing floorboards, so you can be sure of a match. But if you don’t have extra floorboards, try buying an extra board or some salvaged wood from the lumberyard. If you can’t find a good match, you can always stain the wood to match as closely as possible. 

Measure the width and length of the gap. Cut the strips as needed with a miter saw or a hand saw. Apply wood glue to all sides and gently tap into place with a rubber mallet. Wipe away excess glue with a damp cloth and let dry completely. Then sand down and stain the wood strip if necessary.

Putty

This is the safest and easiest fix for a little hardwood gap DIY. All you need is wood putty, a scraper, and a damp cloth. 

Apply a small drop of wood putty to the gap in your floor and gently work it in with your finger. It’s best to use small, circular motions to get the putty in as deep as possible. Gently scrape excess away with a scraper. Use pressure light enough to prevent scratching the finish! 

Let the putty set and then wipe away excess with a damp cloth. Let it dry completely before you walk over it, or you’ll have to start all over! For extra strength and staying power, try coating it with a little varnish. 

Need some professional help? Contact The Carpet Center! We’re happy to send out a contractor to inspect and repair your floors.

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