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What can happen to laminate flooring without the proper expansion gap?

Are you installing laminate flooring soon? Then you should know you need to leave an expansion gap around the perimeter of your room, right? Because you know that things like this picture below can happen. This is called buckling and this is the most common thing that happens when you don’t leave the proper expansion gap.

What is Buckling?

Buckling occurs when laminate flooring does not have enough space to contract and expand with temperature changes. Since it is a floating floor, the planks tend to contract when it is cool and expand when it is warm. Therefore it is crucial to take precautions to prevent buckling.

Buckling Diagram from Kronotex
Buckling Diagram from Kronotex

How Can I Avoid Buckling?

In order to achieve a proper and successful installation you must leave an expansion gap between the installed planks and the wall. Typically expansion gaps are about 1/4″ to 1/2″ and are left around all vertical obstructions; this includes walls, permanent cabinets, pipes, etc. If the proper expansion gap is not left during installation, and the planks on the sides push up against the wall, the pressure will cause planks elsewhere in the room to buckle. Buckling floors are repairable, however, they are a major inconvenience and can be tricky. To achieve the right expansion gap with your floating floor, cut the tongue off planks where they meet the wall, and use spacers to ensure that you are leaving a uniform gap. Take extra care when installing under door jambs to make sure you undercut them deep enough.

Leave proper expansion gap

Have more questions? Leave us a comment below and we will help you!

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12 comments

  1. Avatar

    Why is it needed on laminate flooring and not on any other wood such doors, skirting and architrave?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Ron, thanks for the question. If you have ever had a door exposed to humidity, you’ll find it getting stuck or not shutting. Wood will typically move when exposed to temperature changes. This is the same with laminate flooring. Since it floats and moves as one piece, it is necessary to have the expansion around the perimeter. Let us know if you have any other questions about this!

  2. Avatar

    I have konectco installed in kitchen professionally in my new build house, they never left expansive gap by walls-flush to walls, now I have gaps in seams, what do I do?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Mike, sorry to hear about the issues you’re having. I would reach out to the contractor that installed you planks and see if they will fix the planks or add an expansion gap around the perimeter. As a professional, they should stand behind their work and be willing to fix the damages since you paid them to have it done properly.

  3. Avatar

    My builder left no expansion gaps on any wall with my konecto flooting floor in kitchen now I have gaps and they even nailed quaterround through the floor. Can I go back on builder? I didnt know this until inspector came out

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Michael, sorry to hear about the issues you’re having! Yes, I would reach out to the builder or contractor that installed the flooring. They should have insurance for these types of claims. It seems it is a definite mistake on their end. Be sure to have the inspector paperwork as well!

  4. Avatar

    Hi, we have an area of 60 square meters, would an expansion gap around the outside of the room underneath the skirting board still be ok? Many thanks for your help

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Hannah, the expansion gap will be around the perimeter under the moldings. The moldings will cover the gap! Best of luck with your installation.

  5. Avatar

    Hi, I had an issue on my laminate floor. The installer installed my laminate floor on May 2018. However on September 2018, the floor was buckling(hump) so my installer repaired it but now February 2019 the floor was buckling again. I noticed The installer only leave the expansion gap on the horizontal walls and no gap on the vertical walls. He told me that not necessary to leave gap on all the walls. Is that true? Please tell me why my floor had hump again and again. Thank you

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Kim, thanks for your question. Sorry to hear you’re having some issues! Your installer should have left an expansion gap on all walls. This could be your problem. Another problem could be having a consistent temperature and proper humidity in your home at all times. You can add an expansion gap fairly easily on your vertical walls to see if this alleviates the issues. Check out this post to learn how: https://www.bestlaminate.com/blog/buckling-laminate-flooring/

  6. Avatar

    Great article!

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