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How to Fix Gaps in Your Hardwood Floors

Tired of seeing gaps in your wood floors? Learn how to fix them here. 

Because of the natural beauty of the wood and the material’s durability, hardwood floors are one of the most traditional types of flooring. Even the most expertly installed hardwood floors will begin to gap over time. Gaps not only detract from the appearance of hardwood floors but also trap dirt and make a home drafty. Minor gaps are normal, but if the space is large enough to fit the end of a nickel, repairs are required. Here’s how to repair gaps in hardwood flooring.

Let’s fix those gaps!

Signs You Need to Fill the Gaps

It’s important to remember that all wood expands and contracts in response to seasonal humidity changes. If you’re bothered by gaps during the dry winter months but don’t seem to notice them as much during the relatively humid seasons, it’s probably best to leave them alone. Filling them at their widest will cause problems when the wood expands, and the gaps naturally close up. Floorboards can buckle in extreme cases if there is no room for expansion.

Old flooring, on the other hand, can develop gaps that are more or less permanent; though they may still get slightly wider and narrower with humidity changes. During the humid season, when the wood is most swollen and the boards are at their tightest, inspect your hardwood flooring. If the gaps are large enough for a nickel standing upright to slide through, you have a problem that needs to be fixed.

If you know the gaps will be there all year, it’s probably safe to fill them. This is best done during the humid season when the gaps are the narrowest. Of course, this means that minor gaps may appear when the wood shrinks again next winter, but this is preferable to a floor that buckles when the boards expand during the next humid season.

Wood Strips

Rip-cut narrow strips from leftover hardwood floorboards are one option. If you don’t already have spares, look for salvaged or new boards that look similar to the ones you have. You’ll measure the length and width of each gap you see, then rip-cut the wood strips to those dimensions. These wood strips will be applied to the gap with wood glue and a hammer/mallet. After you’ve installed the strips, sand and stain them until they’re level with the rest of your hardwood flooring. The result should be smooth and cohesive.

Wood Putty

Second, you should think about using wood putty. This is arguably the simplest method for dealing with gaps, and it works well as long as the gaps do not continue to grow. Wood putty is available at your local hardware store. Choose a product that is the same color as your floorboards, or you will ruin the look. After cleaning your floors, apply the wood putty in a circular motion to each gap. After that, use a blunt knife to scrape away any excess wood putty. Wipe away any residue that has accumulated on nearby boards with a damp cloth. Allow the wood putty to dry.

Rope

Rope is used in an old but popular method for filling large gaps. This method is reminiscent of Arabian shipbuilding techniques and has the added benefit of providing some minor insulation. You’ll need to measure the rope to fit, just like you would with wood. Avoid using synthetic rope and instead wedge it into place. Unlike the strips, make sure the rope fillers are flush with the adjacent boards. The rope can then be stained to match the color of your floor.

Sanding and Refinishing

When refinishing wood floors, an initial sanding is required. Choose a drum-style sander if the floors are heavily scratched. These machines are simple to rent and work by removing the top layer of finish, smoothing the floor, and removing any scratches. If the floors are in good condition, an orbital sander is an excellent choice. This device sands the floor lightly, smoothing it without removing too much wood or causing thinning. Whatever sanding method you use, use a shop vacuum to remove all sanding dust from crevices, ensuring the floor is clean and dust-free for the repair steps. Once everything is sanded, we recommend refinishing to help protect the floors for about another five to ten years. However, Valor Home Services knows that sanding and refinishing can be a difficult job for you to do on your own. But don’t worry because our team of experts is ready to help. Call today to start your stress-free hardwood floor refinishing project