The How and Why of Wood Floor Separation

Seeing some wood flooring separation ruining your beautiful hardwood? It can happen and be quite alarming. You probably think of the cost to replace or repair, how the wood flooring separation happened, and how to prevent it again in the future. The good news is that you can find all the answers to those questions here.

Let's begin by explaining why your hardwood floors are separating before addressing how to fix and prevent it. 

Why are my Hardwood Floors Separating?

There are a few things that could have caused your wood flooring separation. It's not always from damage. As wood is an organic material, it responds more to the environment than other types of flooring. 

Here are some of the more common reasons you're having wood flooring separation:

Temperature and Moisture:  wood is a natural and organic material, it can expand and contract with moisture and temperature changes. When these become extreme, it can cause wood flooring separation. You wouldn't notice the expansions and contractions usually unless the floorboards are very tight together. Then it can create serious problems for wood flooring separation. Moisture can more easily seep into the subfloor boards causing rot, if not properly damp proofed.

Poor Installation:  When your hardwood floors are installed the contractors are supposed to leave a little space for expansion and contraction. Otherwise, as noted above, you can end up with wood flooring separation that destroys your floor. You probably weren't aware that a gap between your floorboards already exists but, it's essential to have them. You haven't noticed them because they are quite tiny, around 10-15 millimeters around the edge of your room in fact!

When to be Worry about Wood Flooring Separation

Like touched on earlier, hardwood floors expand and contrast all the time. It's perfectly natural. So, then when should you worry about wood flooring separation? When it begins to separate from the walls and between planks essentially. But, let's get into specifics:

Seasonal Closing: if the wood flooring separation doesn't resolve in more humid months, such as summer. Especially when the hardwood floors have been installed in winter.

Old Timer: When the hardwood floors are older and the wood flooring separation continues, it is probably time for a refinishing or replacing areas or the entire floor.

Filling & Slipping: If you've already filled gaps but the wood flooring separation continues or floorboards are slipping, it's time to consult a contractor. The mini-solutions that typically work on slight gaps haven't solved the issue and there may be a greater cause to address. 

How to Fix Wood Flooring Separation

You'll be happy to hear that it is unusual to need a full hardwood replacement to fix wood flooring separation. It's often a matter of applying filler in the gaps. To be sure though, always consult a professional to give you a proper analysis. 

There are some other tips to help fix the wood flooring separation, though always get professional advice so you don't make the situation worse by accident.

-If your hardwood floors aren't fixed to the subfloor, you can slide the boards back into place. 

-You can use a filler for minor gaps and separations.

-You can use wooden pegs in the perimeter of the room to help keep the boards in place, though this is for hardwood floors that aren't connected to the subfloor.

How to Prevent Wood Flooring Separation in the Future

So, you've fixed the wood flooring separation but want to ensure it doesn't happen again. Beyond the natural expansion and contraction of your hardwood floors, there are things you can do to prevent it from happening again. 

-You can add moisture to your home and reduce ventilation. A humidifier can help prevent wood flooring separation from happening. 

-Keep your home between 65-77 degrees during the winter. The dry air sucks the moisture out of the wood and that can cause more frequent wood flooring separation that doesn't remedy come summer.

-Using a dehumidifier in the summer can help prevent wood flooring separation. The warmer seasons tend to "overload" the hardwood with too much moisture which can lead to too much expansion between the boards. 

What, How, and Why of Wood Flooring Separation

There you have it! All you need to know about the basics of wood flooring separation. Though, for any extensive separation always consult a contractor. Sometimes wood flooring separation keeps happening because the wrong wood was used in the environment and replacement may be needed. It could be a subfloor issue or a host of others. So, before you go running for filler over and over again, have a professional look at what is going on.

May you enjoy pristine hardwood floors for years to come!


Can you fix separating hardwood floors?

Our experts use different methods, such as wood strips, rope, or putty, to fix separating hardwood floors, as these materials fill the gap between the floorboards and blend in with the rest of the floor.

How do you fill a large gap in a wood floor?

We have different methods to fill a large wood floor, such as a natural fiber rope, where we stain the natural rope to match the rest of the floor.

What Causes Gaps Between Hardwood Flooring Boards?

The most common reason behind the gaps between hardwood flooring boards is temperature and humidity, which affects moisture. The wood absorbs moisture and expands. After losing moisture, it contracts, causing a gap.

Is it normal for wood floors to separate in winter?

It is very common for wood floors to separate in winter because the air is drier and cold. This causes a gap, which sometimes closes back in summer.