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

Larry January 15, 2022 - 11:49 am

Question – There is a 1/2″ space under the sheet rock. Can that count as the gap for expansion or should I still leave space around the room as I lay engineered flooring on concrete? The flooring will be under the sheet rock.

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Vanessa January 24, 2022 - 8:43 am

Hi Larry. Yes, you would still need an expansion gap that goes around the perimeter of the room to help with expansion and contraction.

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Access Doors and Panels November 16, 2021 - 6:55 am

This is a good article. It is a combination of fun and informative. Thanks for sharing this!

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Vanessa November 16, 2021 - 2:53 pm

Thank you!

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Isaac August 29, 2021 - 1:30 pm

I’m covering walls with flooring material how important is it to leave gaps since we won’t be walking on it. The longest wall is only 5 meters. The type I’m using are “Vinyl planks with stone polymer composite core” I’m fastening it with a pin nailler which uses 20 gauge headless nails

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Vanessa September 1, 2021 - 12:24 pm

Hi Isaac. We recommend to not only nail the material to the walls but also use glue. This will ensure that the material will stay on the walls. I would still recommend using an expansion gap to let the floor expand and contract slightly on the wall with your heating and cooling process. You would be able to use a molding to cover the edges of that accent wall to cover that expansion gap.

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Sandra Mendel August 18, 2021 - 10:01 pm

I just purchase a coop and they were suppose to repair the buckling floor as they installed it incorrectly without leaving room fit expansion. Instead, they turned up the ax snd dried out the humidity and led me to believe it was fixed. I heard there is a tool that can be bought to cut around the perimeter of the room to creat this expansion space rather than remove all if the flooring (1300sqft). Could you tell me what this tool is called and where I can find it?

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Vanessa August 20, 2021 - 1:06 pm

Hi Sandra. First we would recommend pulling up any baseboard and/or quarter round that you have in the area. Check to see if the expansion gap is at least a quarter of an inch from the wall and make sure those molding pieces were not pinning the floor down at the wall. Second, make sure there are transition breaks between all of the door ways. If you do not have transition breaks, this will also be causing buckling and cupping. If both of these areas are passable, you will likely need a angle grinder and a steady hand to be able to cut back an expansion gap. Hope this helps!

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Steven June 28, 2021 - 10:33 pm

Most everyone says to leave a quarter inch gap around all sides when installing laminate flooring but I have yet to see what gap if any should be between the top of the laminate flooring and the bottom of the quarter round molding the laminate slips under. I would assume as long as the laminate slips under the molding it should be ok. What is your suggestion regarding clearance?

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Vanessa July 1, 2021 - 9:23 am

Hi Steven, We suggest that when you are installing a quarter round, the quarter round can be sitting on top of the flooring when it is nailed into the wall. Do not put any downward pressure on the molding, because that will pin the floor down. Also always remember to nail the quarter round into the wall and never downward into the floor.

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