Why Expansion Gaps Matter When Installing Floors

When it comes to properly installing Swiss Krono laminate flooring, or any brand of laminate flooring for that matter, maintaining proper expansion gaps around the periphery of the floor is critical to its success.



Why are expansion gaps necessary?

The core of Swiss Krono laminate flooring is made from high-density fiberboard (HDF). While HDF is extremely strong and durable, like any wood it’s also porous — which means that environmental factors like subtle changes in heat and humidity will cause the planks to expand and contract. Because laminate flooring is a floating floor and should never be nailed or glued down to the subfloor, it must have the ability to expand and contract, unencumbered by such vertical obstructions as walls, doorways or cabinets that can become “pinch points” for the flooring. Without expansion gaps, you risk performance issues like buckling and squeaking of your laminate floor.


Advice about expansion gaps from Flooring-Professionals.com

An informative article about the importance of floating floors, Why Floating Floors Fail, on the Flooring-Professionals.com website features an excellent diagram (reproduced above) explaining an idea of what an expansion gap is. The article is written by Tim McAdoo, a certified installer, who shares his do’s and don’ts when it comes to installing floating floors.


Using spacers to create a uniform expansion gap

Spacers play an important role in the installation process and should be part of your installation toolkit. Check out the “How to Install a Laminate Floor” guide from Lowe’s Home Improvement and note the placement of spacers around the periphery of the floor next to the wall. These spacers maintain a uniform expansion gap space that later will be hidden underneath the quarter-round molding when the laminate flooring planks are installed.

Spacers actually are plastic wedges designed specifically for laminate-flooring installation and often come in bags of 30 or more. You can see what spacers look like on the Zoro Tools website and a place to buy them as well. You also can buy spacers at Lowe’s, Home Depot or almost anywhere laminate flooring is sold.


A few final words of advice on expansion gaps

At just 3/8th of an inch, an expansion gap may seem like a little thing, but don’t neglect it. Expansion gaps are part of any successful, beautiful Swiss Krono laminate flooring installation. Make sure you have them where your floor meets any vertical obstruction or where two expanses of flooring join and avoid possible buckling or squeaking of planks down the road.