Gaps Between Wood Floorboards
We’ve all been to an inner-city villa and seen old timber floors that feature large gaps between the boards – unsightly gaps that are large enough to allow chilly air to flow up into the living room.
Thankfully, with engineered wood flooring technology those days are somewhat gone. However engineered boards are still made from real wood and therefore the essence of wood remains; gaps between boards are still likely to occur to some degree.
An intrinsic quality of wood is that it expands and contracts with humidity fluctuations – think of wood as like a sponge that expands when it is soaked with water, and shrinks once it dries out. The floorboard may also bend to some degree – again this is due to the organic nature of wood and is completely normal.
Therefore some gaps can occur either during or after installation. Everyone’s attitude to gaps differ – most people don't mind small gaps as this is part of the charm of a real wood floor. Many people don't want a wood floor that looks too perfect as then it is more likely to be mistaken for laminate flooring. However if gaps annoy you then you can request for the installer to fill some of the larger gaps.
The appearance of gaps can be much reduced or even eliminated with click-lock systems, especially if the floor is installed floating over underlay. You won't typically see gaps with laminate flooring for this reason, because laminate flooring always comes with a click-lock mechanism. Click-lock floorboards are held together tightly so they can expand and contract as a single element.
By comparison tongue and groove board joining systems are more likely to exhibit some gaps between boards and also with other design elements, such as stair nosings.
Both tongue and groove and click-systems are widely used and accepted in the architectural and design community.
It’s important not to panic if you see gaps in your flooring. If some gaps are visible immediately after installation then they can be minimized with the application of coloured filler. If you see gaps appearing quite some time after installation then it’s best to just leave it alone, because in all likelihood the gaps will close up as climactic conditions and seasons change.
Interior climactic conditions also contribute greatly to how much each individual floorboard will expand and contract. Most manufacturers will state that in order to minimise floorboard movement you should keep interior humidity levels to between 40-60%.