Hardwood flooring looks gorgeous when they are first installed, but their appearance does deteriorate over time. Although your home’s wood flooring can last for many years, it is going to require some regular maintenance. Most traditional hardwood floors will develop gaps over time. Although it can be frustrating, this is just part of the natural way wood reacts to its environment. Wood flooring loses moisture and dries out as a result of the exposure, wear, and tear. As this happens, it inevitably shrinks and changes shape. Of course, the problem can be further exacerbated if the boards were not tightly laid in the first place. Similarly, gaps may occur if the wood flooring suffered water damage or dry heat damage from below.
Minor gaps might be fine left alone at first. When the gaps in the wood floors become too wide, they might pose as a tripping hazard, especially if these tiles start to curl. The gaps are also likely to become unsightly and accumulate dirt. Before this happens, you will want to fix up your hardwood flooring. Follow this handy guide on how to fill all the gaps in the wood floors:
Determining whether the gaps need to be filled
If you’ve just started to notice a slight gap in your wooden floors, it is a good idea to fully assess the situation prior to taking immediate action. Keep in mind that all real wood floors will expand and contract. This is the result of seasonal weather changes and shifts in humidity. Some minor gaps should not be a cause for alarm because they simply indicate a change in the temperature. For example, you may notice small gaps in the winter that become nearly imperceptible in the warmer months. In these instances, it is probably not a great idea to tamper with them too much. In fact, filling the gaps may make the wood floors expand further once the temperature changes. This could potentially end up causing the boards to buckle. You need to figure out whether the gaps in your home’s wood floors are minor or severe. Depending on the extent of the problem, you can take necessary steps if you do decide to fill the gaps in your wood flooring.
Wait for the humid season
Older wooden floors can grow gaps that are essentially permanent. This means the gaps don’t shift noticeably with changes in humidity. In order to confirm this is the case, it is a good idea to wait until the humid season in order to assess your boards. This is when the wood is most swollen, and the boards will be at their tightest. Check to see what state your wood flooring is in. If there is still enough space remaining that you can easily insert a coin, you’re probably going to want to do a repair job. Keep in mind that it is also best to do this when the gaps are most narrow. You will get the most accurate results while the humidity is still at a high.
Clean out any debris between the gaps
If you’ve decided to go ahead and fill the gaps, your first job will be getting the floors nice and clean. Start by removing any debris that has accumulated between the gaps. The process for doing this will be different depending on how much space there is. In general, you’ll want to vacuum the floor gaps with a powerful appliance. Afterwards, run a sharp object in between the gaps to dislodge anything that the suction power did not capture.
Once you’re satisfied that the gaps are thoroughly clean, it is time to apply your filler of choice. There are a variety of fillers available to do the job. Most fillers will be perfectly adequate if applied properly. You can choose between putty, powdered filler (which is mixed to a putty or paste form), or even caulking. Pick the filler that you’re most familiar and comfortable working with. Be sure to carefully read and adhere to any instructions provided. You also want to make sure that the gaps are completely filled, so note that accounting for a bit of overfill is a good idea.
Sand and stain
Once all the gaps are filled, you’ll want to leave the filler to dry before sanding down the floors and putting on the final touches. Depending on the type of floor and the filler that you’ve used, you may have more or less work to do when it comes to staining. When sanding and staining, make sure you work slowly. Ensure your sanding process is even. Apply as much stain as needed to arrive at an appearance that you’re happy with.
Wait and see
As stated above, it is important to remember that your wood floors are going to continue expanding and contracting depending on the humidity. You’ll have to keep an eye on them to ensure your fix was a success. In some cases, part of the filler will be pushed out as the boards expand. In these instances, you may need to repeat the sanding process once again.