Are they Normal or Abnormal?Gaps between the wood is a very common complaint. Some people immediately blame installers or Manufactures.
I would say most of the time these gaps occur because of normal, seasonal conditions. However if you notice the gaps immediately after installation improper locking of joints or improper straps may have occurred during installation. If you’re installer notifies you of bad boards or curved boards you more than likely have to exchange the product with you’re vendor.
Normal Gaps or cracks may occur in the winter time and close during summer time because of the higher and lower humidity levels. Normal gaps may vary in width from hairline gaps to more significant gaps (1/8″) depending upon the width of the strips of the flooring. Larger gaps are expected in geographical areas with an extended dry heating season like Arizona. Planks sometimes separate due to movement of your’e subfloor and may reflect gaps directly associated with the sub floor movement.Now on the other hand in Winter season shrinkage may be concentrated into only a few gaps on individual boards. Other joints between these larger gaps generally remain tight throughout the floor. In this event, some gaps may be considerably wider than the thickness of a quarter but still considered normal. all these gaps should nearly close during summer These movements in planks are considered normal per NFA.
In the other hand abnormal gaps or large gaps that don’t close out during summer, when humidity is at it’s maximum level,it is 95% caused by job site conditions during or after installation. Improper acclimatization before installation is one of the main reason for this problem to occur. You have to let “ANY” and believe me “ANY” engineered, Laminate or Real Wood floor acclimatize for at least 24-48 hours. There would be outfits out there trying to convince you to do the install that same day. Trust me on this one “DONT” do it. tell them to go back the very next day or two. Make sure you keep you’re room at normal temperature conditions. once they do leave the product inside you’re home make sure they unwrap the plastic out of the box or better yet get the wood out the box for proper acclimatization. Generally, a site inspection is necessary to determine the actual cause or causes of abnormal gaping. you can call you’re local floor inspectors or if your’e in the phoenix metro area call us and we will do a complimentary inspection report.
When there’s a lot of moist in the surface, it will often cause wood flooring to expand before, or right after installation. When this happens,planks close on one another. The flooring will move or reposition itself and, if the pressure is sufficient, cupping or buckling may result. Once summer arrives, the total moisture environment changes, and the flooring and subfloor structure will dry out. If the earlier moisture absorption was great enough, the summer season will produce abnormal or permanent gaps. From this point the gaps will most likely never completely close in the hotter months.Another cause of abnormal gaps can be improperly manufacturing of the wood. This usually occurs because the wood flooring is not adequately dried before the flooring is milled. For wood flooring to perform best in most areas of the country, it should be manufactured between 6-10% moisture content. When wood is manufactured; cut, sanded and/or finished above 10% it tends to loose moisture after installation, resulting in permanent gaps or warping.
Other reasons for gaps that is really nobody’s fault but nature, is settling of the subfloor and walls. This shifts the whole floor if you have plywood subfloor or it cracks the concrete subfloors indenting part of you’re concrete slab. This can be detected in foundation walls or by checking cracks on the floor.