Flooring FAQ: What Causes Gaps in Hardwood Floors?

Seasonal changes and humidity can, and do, cause hardwood flooring planks to swell and shrink. The unique appearance of wood panels and their acclimation to their environment is one of the many reasons people choose hardwood as a flooring option. However, if you are concerned about hardwood gaps, read on to understand what causes them – and when you should worry.


Dry Air Makes Gaps in Hardwood Flooring Appear – and That is Normal

Hardwood flooring gaps occur when moisture content is low. While being nice and dry is great for wood, it does cause it to shrink a bit (much like a sponge). At times of greater humidity, your hardwood floor panels will be nice and flush and when it is dry, you will experience slight gaps in some places. While your floors may keep to the “Summer is wet and Winter is less” so seasonal changes in the deep south, it varies across locations – for instance, Winter is wetter in many locations, and in those cases, gaps appear in the summer months. This variance is also increased as we use wood stoves, gas heat or year-round heating and air, as in common in our area. The expansion and contraction of wood panels in a hardwood floor is common – this is normal, and expected. This is why we do not recommend adding flooring filler – it will simply be pushed out of the gaps when the wood expands.


Rarely, Hardwood Gaps Are a Symptom of a Larger Problem

However, gaps can sometimes signal a problem. If your gap is larger than a dime, and remains throughout the year, it may be time to call in a professional. We recommend indoor humidity remain between 30-50% – any higher than that and you may have larger problems than hardwood gaps, including mold. Likewise, indoor temperatures should remain between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit – this is for your own safety and for the safety of your flooring and furnishings.


If gaps are localized, say to a kitchen or upstairs closet, you may find water damage is the culprit. Have larger flooring gaps appeared that don’t disappear seasonally? Crawlspaces may be a source of water damage, and your floor’s natural reaction to water is a first sign of trouble. In general, the ebb and flow of contraction/expansion, if throughout the house, is normal and a part of the charm of hardwood floors. If you are unsure as to whether or not your hardwood gaps are normal, a call to a trusted professional is in order – give us a call at (478) 237 – 6483 to learn more. You can trust ’em at Custom!

Leave a comment