Whether you’ve just moved in or have been in your home for years, you may have noticed a gap between your flooring and your walls. This is an expansion gap, and most homes are designed with these in mind. So, what is an expansion gap and why should I leave one? Landmark Interiors bridges the gap for you in this blog!

What is an Expansion Gap?

An expansion gap is a tiny space between the wall and the edge of the floor. It should run around the perimeter of the room so that every wall is evenly separated from the planks, floorboards, or tiles. Even large commercial buildings include gaps at the edges and strategically placed cracks between concrete slabs. When it comes to your home, whether you look in your bedroom, bathroom, dining room, or stairs, you should be able to see a small gap that’s about ¼-inch wide.

Why Expansion Gaps are Necessary?

Why are expansion gaps there to begin with? They’re actually essential to keeping your floors in good condition. Humidity causes building materials to expand and contract. For example, if you’ve ever had a tough time closing a door in the summer but didn’t have a problem in the winter, that’s because the humidity caused the wood to swell.

Expansion gaps are built into flooring designs to account for this. If your flooring materials were flush with the walls, they would experience noticeable wear and tear through the summer months. Not only would they look warped and feel uneven, but the floor’s structural integrity could be jeopardized.

Flooring options like engineered hardwood and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) are designed to hold up better against humidity than natural hardwood floors. However, they still need to be installed with expansion gaps to prevent the planks from sagging or buckling.

Can I Cover an Expansion Gap?

If you’re not a fan of the expansion gap running around your room, there are a few options you can explore. Putting furniture against the wall is a quick fix that won’t affect the flooring. Another option is adding a baseboard like skirting or molding around the room. This can improve the aesthetic, cover up the gap, and even increase the value of your home. In many cases, baseboards are already installed, but you can always hire a contractor to replace it with something that will cover the gap.

The convenient thing about these options is that they tend to be a standard that never fades out of style, and they also don’t affect the flooring. Since the expansion gap plays a pivotal role in the long-term sustainability of your flooring, the last thing you want to do is fill in the gap with something like caulk or epoxy resin.

Do I Need to Add an Expansion Gap?

Most homes are built with expansion gaps already in place. If you renovated your home and you hired a professional contractor, they should have left room for an expansion gap when they installed your flooring.

However, not all contractors are created equal. Additionally, some homeowners may have made the floorboards flush with the wall when doing DIY work. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to see if your floors have enough space to expand.

The most obvious way is to look at the edge of the flooring, but if there’s skirting or molding covering it, there’s a quick test you can do. Flooring should be up to L/360 standards, which means that the planks should not sag or deflect too much. The right amount is the length or span divided by 360. So, if your flooring has 10-foot planks, the center of each plank should only dip down by 1/3 of an inch.

Lay a Strong Foundation by Including an Expansion Gap

If you’re starting a home renovation project, contact your local Landmark Interiors retailer to purchase premium low-cost flooring that can weather the humidity. Before installing, check the manufacturer’s instructions to find out how much of an expansion gap to leave to account for changing weather with the seasons. Find your nearest retailer here!

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