After a while, laminate floors start to separate and detach. Why does this happen, and how to fix separating laminate floors?
To fix separating laminate floors, use a floor gap fixer. This device will push (or pull) the separated laminate planks together. Some floor gap fixers must be hit with a rubber mallet at the flat end to put the laminate planks back in place.
However, a floor gap fixer will fix only a small lateral separation in the laminate floors. For larger or longitudinal separations, you must remove the laminate floor and reassemble it.
Laminate Planks Shouldn’t Move
It’s not normal for laminate planks to move after installation. Laminate planks should stay still (in place) without moving. Also, no gap should be between the planks. If there’s a gap between laminate planks, water will seep through and damage the planks underneath.
Laminate floors should only move during the acclimation phase. However, once the laminate floors acclimate and settle, they shouldn’t move. The acclimation process of laminate floors lasts 3-5 days, and the laminate planks shouldn’t move after it has been completed.
So, if laminate floors move a few weeks after installation, the movement isn’t normal and indicates something wrong with the planks or subfloor.
Why is Your Laminate Floor Separating?
There are different reasons for separation in your laminate floor. But before we go on to the causes, you should know that there are two main types of separation in laminate floors; lateral and longitudinal.
The lateral separation or gaps is when the laminate planks get separated at the end of the plank. Lateral gaps are smaller and easier to fix. On the other hand, longitudinal separation is when the laminate floor separates on the long side. Longitudinal gaps are larger and harder to fix.
Here is why laminate floors are separating:
1. Uneven Subfloor
An uneven subfloor is the main reason for a longitudinal separation or gaps in your laminate floors. This is when the base of the laminate floor is patchy, bumpy, or rough.
If the subfloor has bumps, the laminate planks will sit on the bumps (or gouges) and pressure the laminate floors to detach or fall out of place.
The subfloor is the foundation or base of the floor. The subfloor can be concrete, wood, or a custom subfloor you install. This is where the laminate planks will sit on. So, if the subfloor is rough, uneven, or patchy, it will prevent the laminate planks from sitting straight (even) on the subfloor.
If the subfloor is faulty, the edges of the planks will raise and separate, leaving spaces underneath and between the laminate flooring.
2. Moisture or High Humidity
Though the laminate floors are water-resistant, the planks will get damaged if exposed to constant water. If the laminate floors are exposed to high moisture or water for prolonged periods, the water will seep underneath (and between) the planks and cause them to detach.
If this is the case, you will notice lateral or small gaps at the end of the laminate planks.
3. Inadequate Dry or Acclimation Time
You must allow laminate planks to acclimate for 3-5 days before using the floor. However, the laminate planks will separate if you don’t leave enough time for the planks to acclimate and put heavy items on the floor. This can cause both longitudinal and lateral gaps between the laminate planks.
4. Temperature Changes
Temperature changes can cause both lateral and longitudinal gaps in the laminate flooring. This is when rapid and extreme changes in temperature cause the laminate planks to shrink and expand excessively. The continuous shrinking and expansion of the laminate planks will eventually cause separation or gaps between the planks.
5. Improper Arrangement of The Laminate Planks
If you arrange the laminate planks incorrectly, they won’t lock with each other and will separate.
Installing laminate planks is like solving a puzzle. Just like not all pieces of the puzzle will fit together, not all planks of laminate floors will fit together too.
Laminate planks are designed with a click and lock mechanism. If you apply the planks correctly, you will hear a “click” or “snap”; if you don’t, you won’t hear a sound.
The click and lock mechanism prevents the planks from separating. So, if the laminate planks aren’t arranged properly, the click and lock won’t work, so the laminate planks will separate.
How To Fix Separate Laminate Flooring?
There are two ways to fix laminate flooring separating. You can either push the planks back together or reassemble them.
This guide will discuss both methods, how they work and when to use them.
Method 1: Push The Laminate Planks Back Together
To push the floors back together, use a floor gap fixer and a rubber mallet. Then, you must manually push (or pull) the separated planks back in place and use the locking mechanisms to lock them back together.
However, this method won’t work for large or longitudinal separation on a laminate floor. This method only works for small or lateral gaps in the laminate floors.
Here is a guide for this method:
- Inspect the laminate floor to check where the gaps are.
- Check the side and end of the separated laminate plank to know where the lock is.
- Put (fix) the floor gap fixer device other the end of the separated laminate plank.
- Hit the side of the floor gap fixer with a rubber mallet.
- Once the laminate planks are close to each other, use the locking mechanism to lock the planks.
Using the floor gap fixer, you must move both of the planks near each other. You shouldn’t just move one laminate plank as it can create more gaps.
Tip: Don’t kick the laminate planks back in place using hard rubber boots. That’s because kicking laminate planks can damage the planks, even with rubber boots. Also, you won’t get any accuracy by kicking the planks together. You risk compounding the problem rather than fixing the gap.
Method 2: Remove and Reassemble The Laminate Floor
To fix longitudinal or large gaps in laminate flooring, you must remove and reassemble the planks. This method is difficult and time-consuming, but it’s a permanent fix to separations in the laminate floor.
Here is a guide to using this method:
- Inspect the laminate floor to check where the gaps are.
- Put on a thick pair of work gloves.
- Remove the laminate planks (one by one) using a laminate pull bar.
- Sweep, vacuum, and clean the subfloor.
- Inspect the subfloor and check if it’s uneven or wet. If the subfloor is damaged, fix it with a filling compound.
- Sand the subfloor using a random orbital sander.
- Apply a water-resistant underlayment on the subfloor (if it doesn’t have one).
- Optionally, apply laminate glue under the laminate planks.
- Reassemble the laminate planks and lock them with the lock mechanism.
- Use a rubber mallet to tap the planks together.
After you reassemble the laminate planks, allow 3-5 days for the planks to acclimate before using them.
Glue Won’t Fix Separating Laminate Floors
Glue won’t fix separating laminate floors. That’s because the glue will keep the planks in one place and prevent planks from locking with each other. Also, the space between the planks will be filled with glue, making the floor look bad.
However, you can use glue to fix small gaps between the planks. If the gap between planks is small, you can apply glue to prevent planks from moving and fill the small gap.
You can also glue the laminate planks into the subfloor while installing them. The glue will keep the planks in place and won’t allow the planks to separate. The glue will also prevent water (or moisture) from penetrating underneath the planks and damaging them.
So, applying glue on laminate planks will prevent plank separation. But, if the laminate boards are already separated, the glue won’t fix it.
Preventing Laminate Planks From Separating
Here are some expert tips to prevent gaps in your laminate floor:
- Arrange the laminate boards properly.
- Use a waterproof underlayment under the laminate floors to prevent water from seeping under the floor and separating the planks.
- Place a waterproof mat or carpet over the laminate floor.
- Always allow the laminate floor to acclimate for 3-5 days after installation.
- Ensure the subfloor is even and smooth before laying laminate planks.
- Use laminate glue to keep the planks in their place.
You can fix laminate gaps and spaces using a floor gap fixer or by reassembling the planks. If the gaps between the planks are small or lateral, use a floor gap fixer. If the space between laminate planks is large or longitudinal, remove and reassemble the planks.
Also, you shouldn’t use glue, caulking compounds, or wood filler between the longitudinal gaps in the laminate floors.