One of the most common problems that homeowners experience with laminate floors is separation. This is when the laminate planks start to detach. So how do you fix this?
You can fix separating laminate floors by using a floor gap fixer. This is a device that is designed to pull or push the separated laminate planks together. Some floor gap fixers will need you to hit the flat end of the fixer with a rubber mallet to push the separated laminate floor back in place.
However, you should know that this method works for small and lateral separation in the laminate floor. Larger or longitudinal separations might not be fixed by using a floor gap fixer. For such separations, you’ll have to take apart the laminate floor and reassemble it.
Is It Normal For Laminate Floor To Move?
It’s common for laminate floors to move but this should only happen when you have just installed the laminate flooring. If you notice movement in your laminate floor after a few weeks that the floor was installed, the movement is not normal and is an indication of a problem with either the arrangement of the laminate planks or the subfloor.
After installing a laminate floor, it’s advised to leave the floor for at least 3 to 5 days to allow the laminate planks to adapt to the floor. During this period, the laminate boards will stretch, expand, and contract based on temperature changes until the planks fully lock in place. This process is known as laminate acclimation and this is how the laminate floor adjusts to lock in place.
Think of when you buy a new sofa and you try to find the most comfortable position to sit on the sofa. That’s the same way the laminate planks contract and expand to find the most comfortable position to sit on your subfloor. At this stage, the movement is very normal.
However, if you notice the laminate floor or planks starting to move out of place weeks after installing the floor, it’s an indication of a problem and in this case, the movement of the laminate floor is not normal. This is because, by this time, the laminate floor should have already been locked in place.
Since it’s not normal for the laminate floor to move, let’s check out why it happens.
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.
The first type is lateral separation or gaps. This is when the laminate planks get separated at the end of the plank. Lateral gaps are usually smaller and are easier to fix.
The second type of separation is longitudinal separation. This refers to the separation or gaps between the planks. This is when the laminate planks detach along the sides. Longitudinal gaps are usually bigger and more complex to fix.
Now that you know the types of separation, Here are the common causes:
1. Uneven Subfloor
The most common reason for longitudinal separation or gaps in your laminate flooring is an uneven subfloor. This is when the base of the laminate floor is patchy, bumpy, or rough.
The subfloor of your laminate floor is the foundation or base of the floor. This is what the laminate planks will sit on. Now, if the subfloor is rough, uneven, or patchy, it will prevent the laminate planks from sitting flush on the subfloor.
In this case, the laminate floor will ride on the bumps and gouges on the wood putting intense pressure on the laminate floor to detach or fall out of place. If this is the cause of separation on your floor, the edges of the planks will become raised and separated leaving spaces underneath and between the laminate flooring.
2. Moisture or High Humidity
Another cause for gaps in laminate flooring is high levels of moisture or humidity. When the floor is exposed to high moisture content or water for prolonged periods, the water will begin to seep underneath and between the laminate planks causing them to soak and detach. In this case, you’ll notice lateral or small gaps at the end of the laminate planks.
3. Inadequate Dry or Acclimation Time
As explained earlier, you are advised to leave your laminate floor for at least 3 to 5 days after application to allow the floor to acclimate or adjust to the floor before using it.
If you don’t leave enough time for the laminate floor to acclimate before high foot traffic or before putting heavy items on the floor, the laminate planks will become separated. 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
Many people don’t know this but installing laminate planks is like solving a puzzle. Just like not all pieces of the puzzle will fit together, not all the planks of your laminate floor will fit together too.
Laminate planks are designed with a snap and lock mechanism. When you fix the planks correctly, you’ll hear a click or snap that tells you that the planks have been locked in place.
This prevents the planks from separating. However, if you don’t arrange the planks correctly, the planks will not click and lock in place and this can quickly cause them to separate.
So can you glue laminate flooring together? Let’s find out.
Can You Glue Laminate Flooring Together To Fix Separation?
You can glue laminate floors together but you can only do this during the initial installation of the floor. In this case, the laminate glue can be applied underneath the laminate planks or on the subfloor to make the planks adhere strongly. If you attempt to fix separation and gaps in a laminate floor by using glue, you’ll create a mess because the glue will prevent the laminate planks from snapping and locking in place.
It’s a common practice to glue laminate floors together. There is no problem with this as long as you do it during the initial installation of the floor.
This will make the laminate floor adhere strongly to the surface. Also, if you applied the glue during the initial installation, then the laminate planks will adjust to the glue during the acclimation process.
However, if you apply the glue to fix gaps especially longitudinal gaps in the laminate floor, you’ll end up making the floor messy because the spaces between the planks will now be filled with glue.
Asides from that, the glue will also change the appearance of the floor and can even stain the planks turning the floor from brown and glossy to white and patchy. If you are to use glue to fix gaps in a laminate floor, ensure to only use it for tiny gaps or on hidden areas that wouldn’t be seen.
Since using glue isn’t the best option, how do you now fix separate laminate floors? Let’s find out next.
How To Fix Separate Laminate Flooring?
There are two ways to fix laminate flooring. You can either push the planks back together or reassemble the planks. This guide will discuss both methods, how they work and when to use them.
Method 1: Push The Laminate Planks Back Together
This fix is very easy to carry out and, in most cases, all you need is a floor gap fixer and a rubber mallet. For this method, you’ll need to manually push or pull the separated planks back in place while taking into consideration the click and lock mechanism.
You should know that this method only works for lateral or small gaps in the laminate floor. You are not to use this method for large or longitudinal separations in a laminate floor.
Here is a guide for this method:
- Inspect the laminate floor to check where there are gaps
- Check the side and end of the separated laminate plank to know where the lock is
- Fix the curved end of a floor gap fixer to the side or end of the separated laminate plank
- Use a rubber mallet to hit the laminate plank and the floor gap fixer to lock the laminate plank in place. You should do this with several taps rather than one huge bang.
- Tap the laminate plank with the rubber mallet till you hear the click and lock sound.
Sometimes, homeowners try to kick the laminate planks back in place while putting on a pair of hard rubber boots. It’s not a good idea to kick the laminate planks. Doing so can cause internal injuries even with the rubber boots. Also, there is no way you will get any accuracy by kicking the planks together. You’ll risk compounding the problem rather than fixing the gap.
Method 2: Remove and Reassemble The Laminate Floor
This is the second way to fix the separated laminate floor. For this method, you’ll need to remove the laminate planks one after the other, prep the subfloor, and reassemble the laminate planks.
This method is difficult and time-consuming but it is a permanent fix to separations in the laminate floor. You should use this method for longitudinal and large gaps in the floor. You should also use this method when you notice several gaps on the floor.
Here is a guide to using this method:
- Inspect the laminate floor to check for where the gaps are
- Put on a thick pair of work gloves
- Using a laminate pull bar or any other device capable of lifting the laminate planks, remove the laminate planks one after the other
- Sweep, vacuum, and clean the subfloor
- Inspect the subfloor to know if it is uneven or wet. If the subfloor is damaged, you need to repair it with filling compound
- Sand the subfloor using a random orbital sander
- Apply a water-resistant underlay on the subfloor
- You can put laminate floor glue on the underlay or subfloor
- Reassemble the laminate planks taking into consideration where the locks are
- Use a rubber mallet to tap the planks together.
When the floor is locked in place, you have completed the task. You should know that reassembling a laminate floor is a daunting and time-consuming task. So if you need help, call for an experienced professional.
How To Prevent Laminate Floors From Separating?
Here are some expert tips to prevent gaps in your laminate floor:
- Arrange the floor properly taking into consideration the click and lock mechanism
- Use a waterproof underlay beneath the laminate floors to prevent moisture from seeping under the floor and separating the planks
- If you live in areas with extreme temperatures, consider installing a thermostat to control the room temperature
- Provide insulation (like floor mats and carpets) for your laminate floor during the cold winter seasons
- Always leave the laminate floor to adjust and acclimate for at least 3 to 5 days
- Ensure the subfloor is level and smooth before laying laminate planks
- Employ the services of a professional if you can’t lay the laminate floor by yourself. An extra set of hands will not hurt.
- Use laminate floor glue while installing the laminate floor.
In summary, gaps and spaces in laminate floors can be fixed but you need to access the size and type of gap before going ahead to fix it. Remember to always click and lock the laminate planks in place so the floor doesn’t get separated.
Also, glues, caulking compounds, and wood fillers shouldn’t be used to fix longitudinal gaps in laminate floors as doing so will be messy. If you notice several gaps in the floor, then the best thing to do is to remove and reassemble the laminate floor.