How to Fix Vinyl Plank Flooring Separating: A Step-by-Step Guide

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A beautiful vinyl plank floor can effortlessly elevate the look and feel of any space. However, issues like vinyl plank flooring separation can disrupt the harmony and appeal of your floors. And when that happens, it can be difficult to fix if you aren’t sure why it’s happening in the first place. Once you can properly identify the causes of separation, you can then fix minor issues, and even replacing damaged planks. Let’s get started on restoring your vinyl plank flooring.

Key Takeaways:

  • Common causes of vinyl plank flooring separation include improper installation, temperature changes, moisture and sunlight exposure, and moving heavy furniture.
  • To fix minor separation issues with click-lock vinyl planks, use a rubber mallet to tap the planks back into position.
  • For small gaps between planks, use silicone caulking to fill the gaps and create a seamless blend.
  • For glue-down vinyl floors with adhesive failure, reapply a high-quality vinyl flooring adhesive to fix the separation.
  • For more extensive gaps and separation problems, consider replacing damaged vinyl planks with new ones of the same color, shades, and sizes.

Identifying the Causes of Separation

Before diving into the solutions, first we need to understand the root causes of vinyl plank flooring separating. 

Common culprits include: 

Improper installation:  For example, not laying the planks correctly when installing, using low-quality materials, or not allowing the planks to acclimate fully before installation.

Temperature changes: Vinyl plank flooring is sensitive to changes in temperature, which can cause expansion or contraction. When it’s cooler, the planks will contract and when it’s more humid, they’ll expand. 

Moisture and sunlight: If the constantly exposed to direct sunlight, the adhesive might start to break down, leading to separation. Similarly, moisture exposure can also negatively affect the adhesive used to install vinyl plank floors.

Heavy furniture: Moving heavy furniture can potentially compromise the structural stability of the flooring, leading to shifts and separations in the planks.

Keep in mind that the cause of the separation might not be isolated to a single factor. It could be a combination of reasons, such as cold weather causing contraction, followed by moving heavy furniture, which further aggravated the issue. Always consider all possibilities before attempting any fixes.

Fixing Separation Issues

Here are a few ways to fix vinyl plank flooring separation:

Use a Rubber Mallet for Click-Lock Vinyl

You can use this method to fix separating vinyl planks if they’re click-lock only:

  1.  Grab a rubber mallet and a block of wood.
  2. Tap the block of wood with the rubber mallet, moving it along the edge of the separated planks. This should slide the plank back into position

If the planks don’t return to their original position after the first attempt, don’t worry. Simply repeat the process until the planks are back in place. It’s important to remember that this method is most effective for minor separation issues and might not solve more extensive gaps caused by damaged planks or adhesive failure.

Once you’ve successfully closed the gap, visually inspect the area to ensure that the planks are securely in place and the flooring color is consistent.

Use Silicone Caulking 

This process involves filling gaps between planks with silicone caulk. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Clean the area using a damp cloth and ensure it’s completely dry. 
  2. Choose the right caulking material for your vinyl plank flooring. Latex, acrylic, and silicone caulking are all suitable options.
  3. Apply the caulk along the gap and use a putty knife to spread it evenly. Ensure you’re only applying the caulk to the gap by using masking tape to protect the surrounding area.
  4. After applying the caulk, remove any excess with the putty knife and, if needed, use a stain or paint in a color similar to the plank flooring to cover the caulking area for a seamless blend.

Reapplying the Adhesive

In cases where the adhesive has failed causing separation in glue-down vinyl floors, you’ll need to reapply the adhesive to fix the issue. To do this, you’ll require a high-quality glue specifically designed for vinyl flooring and a putty knife.

  1. First, ensure the area is thoroughly cleaned and dried. 
  2. Next, apply a thin layer of adhesive to the affected area and spread it evenly with a putty knife. 
  3. Return the plank to its original position. Press it down firmly until it’s securely glued to the other planks. Allow the adhesive to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Reapplying adhesive is a relatively simple process but can make all the difference in fixing glue-down vinyl floors that have experienced separation. Just be sure to use an appropriate adhesive designed for vinyl flooring to ensure a strong bond and prevent future issues.

Replacing Damaged Vinyl Planks

If you’re dealing with more extensive gaps and separation problems, you might need to replace the damaged vinyl planks. 

  1. Start by taking off the baseboard or molding that’s attached to the walls. Unscrew it, then carefully pry it from the wall with a flat tool. 
  2. Lift the plank at the end and carefully remove it. Then, continue to remove the planks until you reach the affected areas.
  3. Remove the existing planks and replace them with new ones that have the same color, shades, and sizes. 

Although replacing damaged vinyl planks is a more involved process, it’s necessary for addressing larger gaps and separation issues that cannot be resolved with quick fixes. Take your time and ensure that the new planks are installed correctly to avoid future problems.

Preventing Future Vinyl Plank Separation

The best way to avoid vinyl plank flooring separation issues is to prevent them from happening in the first place. 

  • Ensure proper installation by hiring a reliable and experienced professional. Remember that investing in professional installation can save you time, money, and trouble in the long run.
  • Manage moisture levels and regulate the temperature in your home to prevent future vinyl plank separation. 
  • Be mindful of how you move heavy furniture and consider using furniture pads to protect your floors from scratches and dents.
  • Make sure to thoroughly dry your vinyl floors after cleaning to reduce prolonged exposure to moisture.
  • Avoid direct sunlight or extreme heat or temperature changes, which can cause the vinyl to expand or contract, causing separation.
  • Regularly monitor your floors for damages that you can fix quickly, to avoid larger issues from spreading

Paul McCrae, renovations contractor of over 12 years also says it’s important to inspect homes before purchasing. “If you’re buying a house and the house has undergone a refresh, if it’s not a good quality floor it won’t be long before you see the floor come apart if there’s a big temperature difference between areas in the room.”

Maintaining Your Vinyl Plank Flooring

Proper maintenance is key to ensuring the longevity of your vinyl plank flooring and preventing separation issues. 

Regularly sweep or vacuum the floors to remove dirt and grit, followed by mopping with just water.

If your flooring needs a deeper clean, use a mild solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Refrain from using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning tools, as these can damage your vinyl plank flooring and lead to separation problems.

Enjoy Gap-Free Vinyl Plank Floors!

For minor separations, try using a rubber mallet or silicone caulking. For more extensive gaps and adhesive failures, consider reapplying adhesive for glue-down vinyl floors or replacing damaged planks.

Remember that preventing future vinyl plank separation begins with proper installation, moisture control, temperature management, and regular maintenance. By following these tips and strategies, you can enjoy beautiful, gap-free vinyl plank flooring and maintain its longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do if your vinyl plank flooring is separating?

If your vinyl plank flooring is separating, you can nudge the planks together using a rubber mallet and wooden block to close the gaps or use silicone caulking for small gaps. For larger gaps caused by damage, consider reapplying the adhesive underneath the vinyl planks, or replacing damaged planks.

What is the recommended maintenance for vinyl plank flooring?

For vinyl plank flooring, regular sweep or vacuum to remove dirt and grit, followed by a water-only mop.

How can I replace damaged vinyl planks?

Replace damaged planks as follows:

  1. Remove the molding or baseboards from the wall.
  2. Remove each plank until you reach the damaged area.
  3. Replace the old planks with new ones in the same shades and sizes for a seamless repair.

If you’re unsure, consult a professional to replace the damaged planks for you.

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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.

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