Kansas weather is known for its high humidity, which can have a dramatic effect on your hardwood flooring throughout the year. As humidity increases and decreases over time, you might start to notice gaps appearing in your floorboards as the wood expands and compresses due to taking on and releasing moisture. So how can you prevent or fix this problem?
One of the best measures you can take to prevent gaps in your hardwood floor is to use humidifiers in your home. You can use either small room humidifiers or furnace humidifiers to help minimize the chance of flooring gaps in the future. But if you already see gaps appearing, don’t delay in repairing the problem as it could become worse and more costly.
Assessing the Gaps in Your Flooring
If you’ve noticed gaps appearing in your floorboards, the first thing you’ll need to do is assess the extent of the problem.fix hardwood flooring gaps
- How wide are the gaps that have formed?
- How many gaps are there?
- How sturdy is your floor overall?
If your floor is only beginning to show signs of small gaps appearing, you may be able to repair the problem yourself. But if you’re noticing a lot of gaps, very wide gaps or if your floor has moving, creaking or loose boards, you might need the assistance of a professional.
If the problem is minor and you’d like to attempt to fix it yourself before hiring a professional, there are some time-tested methods that will work if done properly. Filling in the gaps with wood filler, rope filler or in some cases putty are recommended ways you can patch small gaps effectively.
One thing to keep in mind when you’re using filler is that as the floor continues to expand and contract with the level of humidity, your filler may eventually come loose or be forced up out of the gap. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the humidity levels when applying your filler to know how much to add. If it’s been humid lately, you know your boards are probably expanded to take in more moisture so you can pack the gaps tightly. In less humid weather, you know your boards will need room to expand a little, so keep that in mind when adding in your filler.
Understanding Filler Types
Now that we understand what’s involved in diagnosing and assessing the problem, let’s look at the types of filler you can use for your floorboard gaps.
Wood Strip Filler
This method is for the more advanced do-it-yourselfer. You’ll need a table saw and either some spare floorboards or at least some strips of wood that are the same species as your floor. Once you’ve sawed some filler strips from the wood pieces, you then apply your wood glue to the strips, gently hammer the strips into the gaps and wait for the glue to dry. As a final step you’ll need to sand down any pieces that rise above the floor surface and stain as needed.
As a warning, the sawing process can be dangerous in order to get the wood strips thin enough. Make sure you know what you’re doing or you could be seriously injured. If you don’t get this process exactly right, you’ll have to remove and replace the floorboards entirely.
One of the oldest ways to repair flooring gaps is with jute or cotton rope. This involves applying carpenter’s glue to pre-cut lengths of rope and pushing them into the gaps until filled. Once the glue has dried, you can restain and seal the floor. A problem with this method is that you’ll need to find rope width that matches the gap in your floor and since not all gaps run the entire length of the board, you’ll have rope filler that stops in the middle of a board.
Wood Putty Filler
Filling gaps with wood putty is done by forcing the gaps full with your putty knife and then sanding the floor to level after the filler hardens. This method is often seen as only temporary because the floor will eventually shift and cause the putty to crack and break over time.
Steps to Repairing Gaps in Your Floor
Now that you’re familiar with filler types, let’s go through the process of doing the repair. When you’re ready to begin, you can follow these simple steps:
Clean out the flooring gaps with a screwdriver, and then vacuum up any leftover dust and debris.
Apply your chosen filler with your putty knife or your fingers, allowing for some overfill, and wait for it to dry.
After it dries, sand or plane the area down so that it’s level with the floor. Stain and seal as needed.
It’s sometimes recommended to pull up your floorboards and reinstall them to remove gaps. Make sure you’re not pulling up tongue and groove floorboards, because you could damage the boards if removed improperly and have to replace them entirely. Check with your flooring manufacturer guides to make sure you’re following their instructions. If the gaps in your floor are to extensive or widespread, it’s always best to call a professional for help.
If you have any questions about hardwood flooring, don’t hesitate to call Jabara’s at 316-267-8833 to speak with one of our flooring experts.