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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

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  1. Great article!

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