Home Laminate Flooring What Size Expansion Gap Is Required for Laminate Flooring?

What Size Expansion Gap Is Required for Laminate Flooring?

by Bestlaminate
Published: Updated: 92 comments 5 minutes read

When it comes to installing laminate flooring, an expansion gap is crucial. To ensure the longevity and stability of your floor, it is recommended to have a minimum expansion gap of ¼ inch around the perimeter of the floor. In fact, installation experts suggest that the size of the gap should increase as the surface area of the floor does, allowing for the necessary expansion and contraction with temperature changes.

Why Does Laminate Flooring Need an Expansion Gap

Laminate flooring is a floating floor, meaning it is not attached to the sub-floor and rests on top of the underlayment. Without an expansion gap, your floor will lack the necessary space to accommodate these movements, putting it at risk of issues like buckling. Don’t take any chances – keep reading to find out more about the importance of an expansion gap for your laminate flooring installation.

What Happens If I Don’t Leave an Expansion Gap?

To prevent damage to your laminate flooring, it is crucial to have the correct expansion gap. Without it, the floor will not be able to expand freely and adjust to temperature changes, leading to buckling, gapping, squeaking, and irreversible damage.

To achieve the correct size of the expansion gap, we recommend using installation spacers from an installation kit. These spacers should be placed between planks and the wall to provide the required expansion space. Spacers will also help ensure that the gap size is consistent throughout your installation. Please refer to the installation instructions included with your flooring for important guidance on installing your floor. Keep in mind that different floors may require a larger gap.

It’s important to note that the expansion gap should also be maintained in front of built-in cabinets, fireplaces, pipes, pillars, transition moldings, or any other object permanently attached to your floor.

How Do I Cover the Expansion Gap?

In most cases, your moldings will fit perfectly and cover the gap. To achieve a seamless finished look, we recommend installing a shoe molding or quarter round at the bottom of your baseboard. Be sure to nail all moldings to the wall or other moldings, and never to the flooring planks, to allow for expansion and contraction.

When installing your flooring, it’s important to ensure that your moldings are wide enough to fully cover the expansion gap. Having a gap that’s too big can cause problems and affect the stability of your flooring, potentially leading to bowing or warping over time. It can also be unappealing if the gap is visible from the edges of the room. Furthermore, a large gap can make cleaning more difficult as it can trap dirt and debris. So, it’s crucial to choose the right moldings to ensure a seamless appearance and easy maintenance.

Learn More: Types of Moldings for Laminate Flooring Installation

By following these guidelines and ensuring you have the proper expansion gap, you can protect your laminate flooring and avoid costly replacements.

Do you have more questions about laminate flooring installation? We will be happy to help! Post your question in a comments below!

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Dave Jones September 24, 2022 - 4:47 am

Hi, I’m laminating a 5m² room..how long do I need ro leave the planks in the room to get accustomed to it before fitting?

Rachel Vahcic September 26, 2022 - 9:33 am

Thanks for your question, Dave! We would suggest letting your laminate floors acclimate for a minimum of 48 hours before beginning to install.

James A Dier August 18, 2022 - 1:54 am

as per the toilet cut out, and suggestions how to hide and gap. I am seeing a bit of silicon caulk is not recommended.

Rachel Vahcic August 19, 2022 - 9:00 am

Thanks for your question, James. We would suggest trying to cut the flooring as close as possible to the toilet. It can be a tricky cut but will be worth it in the end!

James Dier August 18, 2022 - 1:51 am

putting an LVP flooring, 12″x24″ per plank, into a bathroom, 4 1/2 ft x 4 1/2 ft. 1/4 inch gap will be around the room. The toilet oval will be cut out split between two tiles. DO I need the same 1/4 ” gap around the toilet circumference?

Rachel Vahcic August 23, 2022 - 9:21 am

We would suggest leaving the expansion gap around the oval area, as long as the toilet covers it!

Debra Maynard June 8, 2022 - 10:30 am

I had someone install my vinyl plank flooring. He did not take the baseboards off and now that I am replacing them I notice there is a 1 inch gap from the wall on 3 sides. How will this affect things? I do know I will have to use quarter rounds to help cover this. But will my floors shift over time? Should I put something to help take up some of that gap??
Please answer me.

Rachel Vahcic June 10, 2022 - 2:35 pm

Thanks for your question, Debra. Your flooring installer should have removed the baseboards before flooring installation. However, the gap can be covered by using quarter rounds! Vinyl flooring has less expansion and contratcion in comparison to laminate which is a wood-based product. The expansion and contraction should not be significant enough for the gap to show again after the quarter round installation.

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