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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Toni Parker May 24, 2020 - 9:03 pm

Hi, I’m installing laminate flooring on stairs. With the stairs being 11 inches deep and 3 feet wide, would I still need an expansion gap on the sides?

Alana Kane June 1, 2020 - 3:27 am

Hi Toni, thanks for the question. There should be a 1/4-inch expansion gap between each end of the tread and nosing and the walls. The risers can fit perfectly.

Pat May 19, 2020 - 1:22 pm

Hi Alana, very informative page.

It’s a variation on the oft asked! I am fitting laminate in 2 small rooms, each roughly 10m sq.

I don’t want to take the skirting off, equally not sure I like the look of beading!

Is there any way I could leave the 1/4inch gap all round, and use a flexible caulk to finish the edge?

Thanks in advance.

Alana Kane May 29, 2020 - 6:29 am

Hi Pat, thanks for the question. I would advise not using caulk, as the flooring needs space to expand and contract. The caulk will limit the ability for the flooring to move this way.

ty May 10, 2020 - 8:54 am

am installing vinyl plank floors. there is a gap under some of the drywall higher than the plank. baseboards are off and will cover when reinstalled. my question is will this gap allow the vinyl to move more than the 1/4 in space left? should I fill the gap in the spots where it is greater than 1/4 inch or will it not move that much?

Alana Kane May 19, 2020 - 7:06 am

Hi Ty, thanks for the question. Vertical gaps will no affect the flooring.

Tim April 27, 2020 - 6:02 pm


Can I use 1/4 inch spacers for 10mm flooring 122 ft2 room? Thanks.

Alana Kane April 29, 2020 - 1:12 pm

Yes, that is the expansion we recommend!

John April 30, 2020 - 1:09 pm

Hello. Do I need 1/4 inch spacers on both ends of the floor or should one end be flush against the wall.

Alana Kane May 6, 2020 - 4:47 am

Hi John, you will want to leave a 1/4″ expansion gap. You can remove the spacers once you have the flooring installed, but the gap should remain.

David April 20, 2020 - 8:12 am

The gap between my laminate and tile is to wide for the transition piece. What should I do to fix the problem?

Alana Kane April 24, 2020 - 2:39 am

Hi David, thanks for the question. You could either add additional grouting on the tile side or replace the last row of laminate (or cut a small piece to add on) so that it fits to the molding. I am not sure how much space you need to cover, but for a small amount, those will be your best options.

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