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Adding expansion joint to floating wood floor
Old 07-30-2015, 06:53 PM   #1
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Adding expansion joint to floating wood floor

Last year we had an engineered wood floor installed, floating. They left expansion gaps along the walls (under the baseboards) but there are no gaps between the rooms. One section has developed a couple 1/8" gaps on the short end of the boards in a hallway that ends with no expansion gap (there is a step down and they just glued that edge rather than letting it float. sigh). These gaps are near an interior doorway. See photo.

My plan is to plunge cut the boards across the doorway to remove a 1" strip, tap the offending boards back in place to close the gaps on each side, then install a t-molding that covers the gap.

Is there a better way to deal with this? Any reason my plan will backfire once I start cutting our wood floors?
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Old 07-30-2015, 07:30 PM   #2
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What is to prevent the gaps from opening again? If there is a gap under the baseboard on either end, how can you be sure the grow and shrink will happen under the t mold and not under the base?

I thought floating floors were edge glued together during installation, do you recall if that happened?
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Old 07-30-2015, 07:36 PM   #3
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Have you communicated with the installer and tried to get them to fix it and take responsibility for the fix since the install is so new?

While I concur with your plan, I would try to get them to fix it first.

I can see a small trim saw working, but you'll need something like an oscillating saw to do the ends near to the sides of the doorway. Can you easily remove the trim on the sides of the doorway to make those cuts? (I'm assuming that the flooring extends under the trim.
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Old 07-30-2015, 07:36 PM   #4
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Yes the planks were glued together at install. I think the floor was built as too big a single piece and is getting pinched at some of the corners. Some of my research says that there should be expansion joints between rooms. I don't think I need one in every room, but this point may need one.


I could call the contractor that installed it, but if I can fix it easily myself in an hour I'd rather not open that can of worms. It wasn't purchased from a flooring store.


I have an oscillating saw that can make the cuts and leftover t-molding.
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Old 07-30-2015, 07:49 PM   #5
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Do the plank to plank gaps appear throughout the field of the floor, say in a room that is only 15' long in the plank direction? Or does it just occur in the continuous long band the goes through that door?
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Old 07-30-2015, 10:02 PM   #6
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The only gaps seem to be these two in the doorway.
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Old 07-30-2015, 10:25 PM   #7
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If your engineered floors were edge glued how are you going to tap the gaps closed? I installed floating engineered wood floors in my house but there was no glue used, they click together, I did have expansion gaps along all ends and walls. As suggested I would contact the installer first, and have him fix the end that was glued down. If the floor was edge glued you may have to cut out the section of flooring with the gap and replace it with another longer section to fill in the gap.
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Old 07-30-2015, 10:46 PM   #8
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I think your plan will probably work fine (I'd use an oscillating saw/cutter). A matching t-molding should be available from your supplier, so maybe call them. I'd start with asking them to fix this, but if you don't want the hassle, then at least ask for the matching molding and be sure that the rest of their warranty will remain valid after you do this. Get any extra molding you might need for other spots, too.

I'd bet the manufacturer of the product specifies a maximum field size in each direction--and that your installers may have disregarded it. That would be good to know as you look around for other possible trouble spots.

I'd expect the raised molding will wear faster than the rest of the floor, and it might be a bit of a annoyance, especially if anyone is using a walker or wheelchair. And tripping is a possibility, so maybe a different answer is needed if this is at the top of a staircase, etc. I do think the "gapped" planks will tap back into place--they already slid out of place once, so much for the glue!

Good luck!
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Old 07-30-2015, 11:22 PM   #9
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I agree the joint will cause a slight tripping spot to stumble over.

How about filling in the gap with something colored the same so it matches, cut a 1/8 inch long board and tap it into the gap to fill it. Or use wood putty colored to match.

I just enlarged your photo and I have to wonder if you are the only person concerned about this, I can see the upper gap, but what you label as a gap for the lower one is not looking like a gap.
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Adding expansion joint to floating wood floor
Old 07-31-2015, 07:37 AM   #10
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Adding expansion joint to floating wood floor

I would also caution you on the addition of a T moulding in the center of the doorway for all the reasons mentioned (as well as the issue of cleaning). What is the humidity in your home? Did the flooring 'rest' at the inside home temp for at least three days prior to being installed? Likely the gaps (I agree they are not awful) will close up as the weather changes. But what is no big deal to one is a major deal to another, I get that. Good luck.
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Old 07-31-2015, 08:12 AM   #11
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The flooring acclimated for 5 days in the house before install, I unwrapped it myself. But it was installed in the fall and now we are 100' summer.

Maybe I am being too picky about the gap, it looks to be only 1/16" and the other one I thought was a gap appears normal today. I could throw some brown caulk in there instead of the t-molding.

Even though the floor is glued, I figured once I cut at the threshold, the plank adjacent to the gap could be tapped into place because the glue on it wouldn't be that strong (assumption, if it's gapping, the glue must have released it somewhat already).

I just don't want this part of the floor to start pulling on other sections creating more gaps. The second photo is the end of this hallway where the floor was installed without an expansion joint, that's why I think this gap appeared where it did.

Maybe it's prudent to just watch and monitor before cutting up the floor.
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Old 07-31-2015, 08:29 AM   #12
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I installed some flooring in DW's she-cave last summer and had a threshold between the main room and the bathroom (which is linoleum). The transition that I used was not like what was shown in the photo, but more of a t-moulding that had ~ 1/4" space under the t-moulding for the floor to move as needed. I wonder if the joint you show above is the cause of the problem at the other end.

In any event, I wouldn't sweat 1/16" gap... let it be for a while and see what happens. You can always cut later if you want to.
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Old 07-31-2015, 08:30 AM   #13
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I use transition strips (t-molding) in several areas in my house when going from one type of floor (wood) to another (tile) and haven't found it to be a tripping issue. If you go that route just make sure the edges of the strip are tapered, most store bought t-moldings are.
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Old 07-31-2015, 08:43 AM   #14
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The flooring acclimated for 5 days in the house before install, I unwrapped it myself. But it was installed in the fall and now we are 100' summer.

Maybe I am being too picky about the gap, it looks to be only 1/16" and the other one I thought was a gap appears normal today. I could throw some brown caulk in there instead of the t-molding.

Even though the floor is glued, I figured once I cut at the threshold, the plank adjacent to the gap could be tapped into place because the glue on it wouldn't be that strong (assumption, if it's gapping, the glue must have released it somewhat already).

I just don't want this part of the floor to start pulling on other sections creating more gaps. The second photo is the end of this hallway where the floor was installed without an expansion joint, that's why I think this gap appeared where it did.

Maybe it's prudent to just watch and monitor before cutting up the floor.
That would be my plan if I lived there. With new installations, people have a tendency to spot and fuss over imperfections noticed. In this case, it's a "board" floor, and some latitude for error is in keeping with floorboards. Actually, the lengthwise gaps look to be nearly as large as the butt gap, maybe that will have to be the nature of things as the entire system relaxes into place. Next winter at a stable 70 deg, it may look perfect..

I have an entry door that always moves and slightly sticks in high summer heat, but I know it will behave when the temps drop. If I planed the edge to resolve the temporary misfit, it would not fit as well in mild temps. At this point, i'm too lazy to care.
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Old 07-31-2015, 09:10 AM   #15
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I wouldn't worry about a crack or two. Wood floors are imperfect, and you will be the only one to ever even notice them.

Sure, you could use an oscillating cutter and add a T molding, but you'll feel the molding every time you walk over it. Just leave a beautiful floor as it is.
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Old 07-31-2015, 10:19 AM   #16
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Old 07-31-2015, 10:45 AM   #17
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did the installer not let the flooring acclimate? I'd send him the photos.
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Old 07-31-2015, 07:48 PM   #18
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did the installer not let the flooring acclimate? I'd send him the photos.
I let it acclimate for 5 days myself. But I hired someone "who knows all about floors" to install it.
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Old 08-02-2015, 11:50 PM   #19
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We have a floating "engineered" wood floor. Our climate varies from -40F with 0 humidity to +90F with 80% humidity. Our largest area without joints is about 30X30. We have shrinkage that widens gaps sometimes, but they tend to go away. Have you tried waiting?
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Old 08-03-2015, 01:22 AM   #20
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Sounds like the problem is how the end at the step was done, glued at that point. Does the gap cause you heartburn, or the appearance of un-even color ? , if the later , tap it open a bit and stain it. Otherwise, call the installer back.
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