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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92 comments

Nancy Danel April 22, 2018 - 11:29 am

We just laid our entire living room with wpc plank flooring with an underlayment over concrete but did not use spacers. We butted right up to wall.
Now what.

Reply
Viena April 23, 2018 - 9:27 am

Hi Nancy, thanks for your comment. With any floating floor, it is necessary to have an expansion gap around the perimeter to allow the floor to float, and expand and contract with temperature changes. We recommend uninstalling the floor, and reinstalling with a quarter inch expansion gap around the perimeter of your room. Unfortunately, without an expansion gap, you run the risk of your floor buckling and getting damaged over time. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

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Terry Smith August 30, 2017 - 7:45 am

My installer did not want to slide the flooring under my door jams , he says it can’t be done on a manufactured home because of expansion issues but it looks awful. He’s caulking the gaps? Only around the doors. Is this right?

Reply
Ashley Tolfo August 30, 2017 - 10:46 am

Hi Terry – Your installer should not be using caulk on the gaps of your laminate flooring! This will cause expansion/contraction issues with your flooring – exactly what he was trying to prevent…

According to this Kronoswiss Installation Video, this is how you should install your flooring next to a door jamb.

When you install a laminate plank underneath a door jamb (or door casing that you’ve already trimmed) it will be the last plank. You’ll have two challenges:

1) The vertical obstruction of the door casing will prevent you from being able to angle the plank (that’s the “limited clearance”) to employ its locking system because it has to horizontally slide under the door casing and therefore,
2) It will need to be glued to the next-to the-last plank, so you’ll have to remove the upper part or “lip” of the groove on the next-to the-last plank to create a second tongue on which to apply glue.

In the video, he demonstrates how you can use a standard utility knife to shave the upper lip of the groove off but it takes a little bit of work and will drag your knuckles across the subfloor. A better tool he recommends and demonstrates is the mini-trim planer.

After that’s done, he demonstrates how to use PVA Type II Glue from a flow-control nozzle and apply it to the groove (now a tongue) where you’ve shaved-off the lip. He shows how you then slide the last plank underneath the door jamb, then pull it back into place horizontally and inserted into the next-to the-last plank.

To hold the last plank and next-to-last plank together and in place, he applies a few strips of blue painter’s tape across the joint of the two planks; as well as extra spacers along the wall, to ensure that the hydrostatic pressure of the glue doesn’t push the planks apart as it dries, leaving an ugly translucent line. Wipe up the excess glue that oozes up in the joint and you’re done!

Hopefully this video helps your installer! If you have any other questions, please feel free to reply to this comment, or email us at [email protected].

Reply
Lawrence Badman December 11, 2019 - 7:42 am

Hi again,
Can a guillotine be used for cutting laminate flooring

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Chris June 28, 2017 - 3:55 pm

It’s actually called ” foam rod” and is a 3/8″ compressing material that is used to stuff and insulate the expansion gaps while still allowing expansion. Keeps drafts out.

Reply
Ashley Tolfo June 29, 2017 - 11:41 am

Hi Chris, we are not familiar with this material. We would recommend checking with the manufacturer to make sure that using this material is within your floor’s warranty. If damage occurs because you use this material, it could void your flooring warranty.

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Paul Quilty March 18, 2017 - 12:57 pm

I believe that the strip of “material” that you’re talking about is silicon calk. As you said, the calk will stay resilient to allow for expansion and contraction. The added benefit would be that if liquid is splashed on the wall, the calk will prevent the liquid from getting underneath the laminate and damaging the sub-floor. As far as the look goes, cover the calk with base molding or 1/4 round and your flooring project will be finished.

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Alana Kane March 20, 2017 - 9:57 am

Thanks for sharing Paul. We’ll have to look into this idea more!

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Judy January 27, 2017 - 4:50 pm

I watched a video where it showed them laying a strip of material between the wall and flooring that filled the space left by the spacers. This material would give so the floor could still expand and contract. What is this called and where would I find it?

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Alana Kane January 30, 2017 - 1:06 pm

Hi Judy! Thanks for the question. As far as covering expansion gaps, the only thing we can recommend are moldings. Depending on your need, there are wall bases, quarter rounds and other transition moldings that cover the gaps. We have no knowledge about a material you are describing, sorry! You can learn more about moldings here: http://www.bestlaminate.com/help/moldings-guide/

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Mark Brough July 17, 2019 - 2:03 am

The laminated flooring I bought has been sat in packs in the house for over a month (been busy!). Will i still need to leave the gaps for expansion or would this of already happened?

Reply
Alana Kane July 17, 2019 - 11:31 am

Hi Mark, thanks for the question. Good news is, your flooring should be acclimated and ready to be installed. You will still need to have an expansion gap for installation, as the flooring can still move with temperature changes throughout the year. It is very important to avoid buckling in the future! You can check out our guide to laminate installation here if you still have questions: https://www.bestlaminate.com/help/guide-to-laminate-flooring-installation/

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