Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Expand and Contract?

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There are different types of flooring materials available in the market today including vinyl planks, laminate flooring, hardwood, and natural stones among other materials. These flooring materials need to be installed properly to avoid any changes in their form and arrangement due to variations in temperature, human movement, and exposure to water. In this article, we are going to tell you everything we know about vinyl planks flooring installation, expansion, and contraction. Read on to learn more.

Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Expand and Contract?

Vinyl plank flooring expands and contracts every time it is exposed to weather temperature and weather changes. Each plank will expand and contract by a fraction of an inch, but when each expansion and contraction effect is multiplied over multiple planks, big gaps normally end up forming.

Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Need An Expansion Gap?

Vinyl plank flooring needs an expansion gap. If your vinyl planks flooring expands without the necessary expansion gap, your floor may crack, bubble or buckle. The gap allows your flooring to expand and contract in response to regular hot and cold temperature variations.

Before a Vinyl plank reaches an immovable, vertical barrier like a wall or a doorpost, an expansion gap is used to relieve the strain of thermal expansion. In most cases, an expansion gap of ¼ or ½ inch around the room perimeter is allowed.

When considering other forms like tongue and groove Vinyl, which snaps together like laminate. You need an expansion gap with them, just as you would with other forms of Vinyl flooring.

How To Leave An Expansion Gap

The key to creating an expansion gap is to use a uniformly thick spacer to create an expansion gap between your floor and the wall in all four corners of the room. You can decide to use a commercially produced spacer or make yourself some from plywood.

 When installing the spacers during the installation of Vinyl Planks, start in the left-hand corner and work left to right with the “groove” edge facing to the right and away from the beginning wall, starting in the left-hand corner and working left to right with the “groove” edge facing to the right and away from the starting wall. Floating flooring is meant to be fastened together along the margins of the plank to form a secure connection.

What Happens If There’s No Expansion Gap?

At any time that you might be ready to install Vinyl Planks, you should remember that you must leave an expansion gap around the border of your room. If you fail to install the expansion gap, buckling will occur. When vinyl plank flooring does not have enough room to contract and expand in response to temperature fluctuations, it buckles. Planks more often contract when it’s cold and expand when it is warm.

How To Avoid Buckling

To achieve a successful installation of vinyl planks, you must leave an expansion gap between the wall and the installed planks. Around all vertical impediments, such as walls, fixed cabinets, and pipes, expansion spaces of 1/4′′ to 1/2′′ are often left.

What Causes Gaps in Vinyl Plank Floors?

It’s aggravating to discover holes in your vinyl plank floor, especially if it’s a new installation. There are a variety of reasons for these disparities, ranging from human-made to environmental. Gaps in your vinyl floors can be caused by a variety of factors, as indicated below.

1. Temperature Variations

Hot and cold temperatures are one of the most common causes of gaps in your flooring. Vinyl expands in the heat and contracts in the cold. In a high-traffic area, you’re more likely to encounter gaps. These gaps will appear as a result of the continual fluctuation in heat or cold. Gaps can and will appear regardless of the type of vinyl flooring you have installed. The goal is to be ready for when such gaps appear.

2. Moisture Content In The Rooms

Rooms that encounter changes in precipitation will have gaps in the flooring. Because moisture seeps below the floorboards, it is a major source of gaps. Moisture trapped beneath the flooring, such as from spilled water, might compromise the vinyl’s integrity.

Dampness will dissolve the glue and this can lead to the twisting of the boards if you glue them firmly. It would be beneficial if you used waterproof vinyl with extra caution in locations where wetness is a constant, like the laundry room.

3. Transporting Large Objects

Extra caution has to be taken when dealing with vinyl planks. Simply moving a large object all over the floor might cause the vinyl to move and gap. Lifting furniture instead of dragging it will help prevent this. Felt pads beneath the feet of furniture, especially heavier furnishings, are another wonderful suggestion.

Steps To Filling The Expansion Gap

If your vinyl plank flooring has some gaps, you can follow the 3 steps below to fill it.

  • Cleanse the floors in the same manner as you would while mopping them. Remove all of the debris and grime that has accumulated in the gap with a cleaner. You might also vacuum the space to get rid of any remaining particles.
  • Allow at least 24 hours for the floor to dry completely before inspecting the gap for dirt. Once you are sure that there’s nothing there, check the space with your finger to see if it’s dry.
  • Paint the patches to match the rest of the floor. Before stepping onto the fixed flooring, you should wait at least 24 hours. Before you step on it, make sure it’s dry and hardened.

How Do You Prevent Vinyl Planks From Separating?

You can use Caulking to prevent Vinyl Planks from separating. Caulking not only protects the floor’s structure but also functions as a water barrier. It’s also adaptable enough to permit expansion and contraction without leaving visible traces. Here are steps you need to follow to prevent Vinyl planks from separating:

  • We have a variety of caulking materials such as Latex, acrylic, and silicone caulking. When you reside in a climate with high temperatures, silicone caulking is the best option. Acrylate is significantly more robust than latex, and it can withstand a lot more wear and tear.
  • To guarantee that no dust particles or other materials are in the way, thoroughly clean the flooring, especially in between the dividing boards. To make sure everything is gone, use both the cleaner and the water.
  • When caulking, make sure there are no obstacles in the way, such as children or dogs. This is to ensure that the caulk is not disturbed till it properly dries out.
  • To avoid getting spilling caulking anyplace other than where you want it, cover the flooring with masking tape.
  • Caulk the joints. Use a moist finger to remove extra caulk and ensure that the planks’ separation is filled as you apply the caulk.
  • If the caulked area stands out too much, you may cover it with a stain or paint that matches the plank flooring color. If you’re painting it, avoid using silicone caulking since it won’t hold up to the paint.
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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

3 thoughts on “Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Expand and Contract?”

  1. thanks for this article I found it very informative.
    I have a question. I’m going to be putting down vinyl plank flooring. Is it OK if the expansion gap is say an inch or would this lead to potential issues with the floor moving and causing gaps.
    Thank you

  2. Hi joe I’m a flooring retailer for the past 40 years I can count on one hand the number of claims. we’ve installed 100s of LVP flooring recently and with proper gapping to the vertical barriers walls etc
    We are getting complaints of the product cupping our suppliers are
    now saying a credit card gap is required to prevent “pinching” a new term that is being tossed around. Never heard or was advised of this early on when they
    placed their displays in the store
    I’ve heard that suppliers are getting slammed with claims and digging their heals in with every excuse
    We’ve install baseboards for years
    What is your take

  3. I have a question. When installing luxury vinyl planking like Home Depot’s Life Proof vinyl plank flooring how much should you undercut door jambs/casings in order to fit the product underneath the casing and allow for expansion? Thank You.


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