Laminate flooring planks typically rely on their interlocking system to stay in place, as they are not usually glued down or fastened to the sub-floor using staples, screws, or nails. As such, a faulty interlock mechanism, temperature fluctuations, and humidity can cause gaps, bubbles, and buckling to appear on the floorboards. But, how can I fix the laminate that’s is separating?
High humidity, low temperature, and poor installation are major causes of laminate board separation. You can fix your separating laminate floor by identifying the cause, scoop the wood glue and apply, re-attach the separated laminate floorboards by pushing the misplaced plank. Ensure you clean up any residual with a clean wet piece of cloth
If you’re dealing with this kind of problem, read on for an elaborate guide on how you can fix it and prevent the same from happening in the future.
Why is my laminate floor separating?
When adjoining laminate planks start pulling away from each other, you’ll notice unsightly gaps on your floor. You may be wondering why this is happening and whether there’s anything you can do about it. One common cause of gaping in laminate flooring is high humidity levels. As the weather gets hot and humid, the laminate planks do expand and contract, resulting in gaps between the boards.
Separation of laminate floorboards may also occur when room temperature drops below 60-degrees Fahrenheit. When laminate planks are installed without previously being acclimatized to the temperature of the room, separation, bubble, and buckling is likely to occur.
Sometimes, click-lock laminate floorboards separate due to a faulty locking mechanism. A defective hook or latch obstructs your locking mechanism, resulting in gaps. Poor installation may have also lead to glue obstructing the interlock system, consequently causing gaps. Finally, your laminate boards may also come undone due to an uneven sub-floor resulting in open joints.
How do you fix separating laminate flooring?
The good news for homeowners is that there are multiple fixes for gapping in laminate floors. We recommend following the procedure below to restore your separating floorboards to their original positions:
- Prepare the tools needed for the project, including a floor gap fixer (a special kind of tapping block), a hammer/mallet, a chisel, and a crowbar.
- Next, identify which side of the floorboard moved to cause the open joint, then take out the baseboard on this side of the board using your chisel and hammer.
- With the skirting board out of the way, you can now see which side of your laminate board moved out of place. You can then knock the misplaced board back to its original position using your floor gap fixer and hammer. Commercial tapping blocks come with an adhesive face to grip the drifting plank as you tap on its sides to move the plank closer to its original spot.
- If you like, you can prevent future movement of the same plank by applying wood glue.
- Finish off by gluing back your baseboard.
If you don’t fancy the above approach, you can use wood glue instead- as detailed below:
- Start off by cleaning up the gaps between the laminate planks, as glue sticks better to clean surfaces. Naturally, the gaps will contain dust and debris that has been gradually building up.
- For precision application, scoop the wood glue using an improvisation tool that can get in between the narrow gaps. For instance, you can use a toothpick, a disposable syringe, a matchstick, or a cotton swab.
- Next, apply the glue to the exposed end of the misplaced floorboard, making sure to target the interlocking grooves between the misplaced plank and the next one. Do this step repeatedly until there’s a thick, uniform layer of glue on the interlocking grooves.
- After applying glue, reattach the separated laminate floorboards by pushing the misplaced plank towards the one adjoining it.
- Finish off by cleaning up any residual glue using a wet piece of cloth, as excess glue can dry up and discolor your laminate floor.
If you don’t have any commercial wood glue at home, you can use wood putty or caulk as an alternative. However, residual caulk will cause unsightly marks on your laminate surface once it dries up, hence the need to sand after fixing the gaps. We recommend using fine-grit sandpaper for a smooth finish.
How to prevent laminate flooring from separating
Sometimes, the gaps may occur between several adjacent floorboards. Fixing such gaps one after the other can be tiresome and time-consuming. What’s more, replacing them can be a costly project. This is why it’s always advisable to undertake prevention measures. Here are some ways in which you can safeguard your laminate flooring against gaping:
Before installing a new laminate floor, you should let the floorboards sit in the room in which they are to be installed for at least 2-3 days. This allows the planks to acclimatize to the room’s unique temperature and humidity conditions.
Installing new planks right away without undertaking proper acclimatization can result in expansion and contraction, consequently causing gaps between the boards.
2. Professional Installation
Avoid DIY laminate floor installation or hiring cheap and shady contractors to install your laminate flooring for you. Both of these options leave lots of room for error.
On the contrary, a professional contractor is more likely to get the job done the right way, ensuring your planks won’t separate at the seams down the line. For instance, a pro is likely to notice that your sub-floor is uneven and will- therefore- use a leveling compound to level it prior to installing the floorboards.
3. Moisture Prevention
Once moisture penetrates beneath your laminate flooring, it can cause the formation of gaps and lumps. Which is why whenever water or any liquid beverage spill on your laminate floor, you should wipe it off immediately. A dry piece of cloth or a vacuum cleaner can easily get the job done.
What laminate floor gap filler should I use?
There are several commercial floor gap fillers like; Coconix Floor and Furniture Repair Kit that you can choose from. However, not all are effective at keeping your previously-separated planks in place.
To prevent your floorboards from separating again just a few months after fixing the same problem, we recommend using high-end wood and laminate adhesives such as Gorilla Glue, Epoxy Glue, and Titebond III. The second option is highly viscous and can effectively hold the laminate pieces in place even under stressful conditions.