Gaps in laminate - can this be fixed?

sophie_blueJanuary 10, 2010

We had this laminate installed during summer of 2008. The first winter, a few gaps appeared and closed a bit but not fully during the summer. This winter, large gaps appeared and the laminate seems to be pulling apart a great deal in one area of the room. The building we live in cranks up the heat in the winter months but even when the heat is off the gaps do not fully close.

Looking for any help to understand what is wrong with the floor. Can this be fixed at this point? Is this a problem with the installation? The floor guy left 1/4" on all sides. Should we take off the baseboards and try to hammer back the boards? Is that even a possibility?


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Mine does the same thing. Since its loose laid I slide the pieces together using a rubber soled shoe. Try it. There is enough wood at the wall to eliminate the gap. I do it while wearing the shoe but you could try sliding it with your hand and see if the gap closes.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 5:35PM
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I believe the installer knocked off the tabs when putting them together. Very common. Contact the store..something is wrong with the install..guaranteed. We have done this many times and end up replacing. Tabs are most likely knocked off. Not a climate thing.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 6:34PM
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What are tabs, echoflooring? I have a few pieces of laminate left so I can check them out.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 10:37PM
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What are tabs, echoflooring? I have a few pieces of laminate left so I can check them out.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 1:05PM
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My laminate does this in places. Usually it does this where hubby installed. The places where I installed the laminate are less likely to do this.
I install each peice separately, and hubby links a length of planks end to end, and joins them on the long side all at once.
While hubby's method may be quicker, I think it makes a less secure joint.

In the summertime when the joints are tight, I removed the baseboard along the wall, then filled the expansion gap between the wall and the end of the laminate plank with some tiny bits of scrap wood. When winter came the planks did not have as much room to slide away from each other.
It's not perfect, but it's much better.

I have seen this in other people's homes as well, and theirs were professionally installed.
In my opinion, laminate flooring does not need as much of an expansion gap as the manufacturers say it does.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 9:39PM
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Sometimes, when an installer forces the ends together, it wrecks the locking system. With these new locking system, you can not force them to snap in place, sometimes you must just be real patient until they snap in. Many installers Rough Tough theirs to go together and end up smashing or knocking of the lock system. Looks good at 1st then constantly separates. Every time we have major areas separating , we go and check and find that our locking system was disturbed by a rough install. Certain laminates get disturbed much easier than other. Berry is brutal, you have to work it with Kid Gloves. I am betting that something happened to the end joint locking system on certain boards. Or it wasn't snapped in place properly since he did not do it piece by piece. You can uninstall and check to see what is going on.. Its a shame to kick it back with your shoe forever. We have a Berry Display floor that we had a gorilla break the tabs when he installed. i constantly am banging it back together..makes me sick to have to do that. Also, I have seen a small hint of glue put on the joint and then kicked back and that ends the problem. You won't find that on an install manual but it works. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 9:58PM
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if you eliminate the expanision gap as you have done it will force the floor to rise up so its not a good idea to eliminate the expansion. its there for a reason.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 1:17AM
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We've got the same problem. For us, the problem has manifested itself only in large rooms. The small rooms are fine. And I can personally guarantee the tabs did not break during installation. They just are not sufficiently effective for keeping the planks together as they grow/shrink with weather.

We have very heavy furniture (very heavy TV stand, dressers), which are probably preventing the planks from moving together as desired. Even as they were being installed, it was apparent that it did not take much force to pull them apart.

I'd guess that the problem is more severe with cheap laminate flooring that is especially thin. Thicker planks should have a stronger interlock. This is not something we were warned about when we bought it, but it makes sense.

The best you can do now is to knock the pieces together when they come apart and keep the temperature/humidity constant if you can afford it.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 10:58AM
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Also, tabs can break after installation, if there is too much vertical movement caused by not flattening the floor to manufacturer's requirements.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 9:11PM
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DH and I decided we'd put down laminate in the library. We've done it several times before without any problems or gaps appearing. After reading this thread, we looked closely at the locking mechanizims of the different products - and wow! some were very bad!

We were looking at Menards, and I now they often carry low end products so maybe these manufactures produce a good product that is available elsewhere, but we crossed Tarkett and Shaw off the list as they had the same locking system and DH broke off the tab (they have small samples) when he was only trying to see how they went together. Another brand would lock in place without being prone to breaking, but you could easily pull it back apart.

We ended up with Laura Ashley Home. We weren't able to break the tabs (though we weren't trying real hard) and when locked, we could not pull it apart without tipping the board back up.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 1:13PM
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