February 17, 2023

Fixing the Gaps on Your Hardwood Floors

Repairman's hands Installing Skirting Board Oak Wooden Floor with Caulking Gun Silicone from Cartridge.

Gaps on hardwood floors are inevitable issues over time. From old tongue-and-grove hardwood to wide-plank floorings, gaps develop between the boards when it shrinks as it dries out and loses moisture. While they’re not much of an issue like warped flooring, floor gaps can be a major appearance problem. The good news, however, is that there are numerous ways homeowners can fix the gaps in their hardwood flooring.

Why is Fixing Gaps on Hardwood Flooring Necessary?

Expanding and contracting with the changes in season humidity is a natural trait of hardwood planks. Gaps are more noticeable during the dry winter days but become nearly invisible when exposed to humid seasons. In these instances, leaving them alone is the best option, as it’s your flooring’s way of acclimating. But if the gaps widen and stay permanently despite the changes in seasons, fixing them is the better choice.

Check your hardwood floors during the humid seasons when the boards are their tightest. When you find gaps wide enough for a nickel to slide into the gaps, it means they’re now a problem that needs fixing. Observe these floor gaps throughout the year. Once you’re certain that the spaces are large and consistent all year round, you can start planning how to fill them.

Gaps are a problem to the appearance and flow of your hardwood floors. One factor that makes hardwood flooring classic addition to homes is its ability to blend well with different interior styles, furnishing, and décor. Having wide, unnatural gaps on your flooring destroys the flow and affects the way your hardwood floorboards work within your home.

There are several ways homeowners and remodelers can fix hardwood flooring gaps. From wood strips and ropes to using wood putty, bringing back order to your floors is always possible. However, the process of filling the gaps in your floors can change depending on the material you prefer to use.

Fixing Hardwood Flooring Gaps with Wood Strips

The method of fixing gaps with wood strips involves using a table saw to rip-cut narrow planks from your spare floorboards. In instances where you have no leftover hardwood planks available, you can buy or salvage boards of the same specie or pieces of matching hardwood lumber.

Cut the Strips

The first thing you need to do is cut the strips. Measure the length and width of the gaps between your floorboards. In a space near your working area, set up a table saw to rip-cut the strips following the measurements. Cut them as required to fill the gap using a miter saw or handsaw.

When cutting the hardwood planks, cut them from the grooved side. Doing this will help give you an accurate depth of the piece when you lay them with the existing floorboard.

Remember that ripping hardwood strips is hazardous and needs specific safety precautions. It’s best to get expert help to accomplish this task.

Gluing the Strips in Place

Once you measure and cut the strips, you can apply wood glue to the sides of each cutting. Gently tap it into the gap with a mallet or hammer. Fill it in to get the wood strip flushed with the existing boards. Wipe away all excess glue with a damp cloth and leave them to dry.

Sanding and Staining

After the glue dries out, sand or plane down the high spots you see in the strips. Be careful not to destroy any of the surrounding finish or planks. Clean the area thoroughly and proceed with staining and coating the new wood to match their existing flooring.

Fixing Hardwood Flooring with Rope

Filling large gaps using natural fiber rope is a traditional method used on wide plank floorboards in old homes. The rope may not look like hardwood, but staining to blend with the planks is better than having noticeable dark, empty gaps. When using this method, it’s best to have a natural rope, like jute or cotton, as synthetic ropes don’t accept or absorb stains.

Clean the Gaps

Scrape the dirt and grime from the gaps using a painter’s 5-in-1 tool or a flathead screwdriver. Be thorough in removing all buildup dirt and old putty from the spaces. In addition, work around the gaps to avoid any damage from the adjoining hardwood planks. Vacuum the loose debris you took out and repeat the process until the spaces are clear of dirt and other materials.

Stain the Rope

Choose a rope slightly longer and has a diameter a bit larger than the gap. Pour your chosen wood stain into a small bucket and dunk the material until the color saturates. Pull it out of the bucket carefully ad let the excess stain drip back. Stretch the rope on clean cardboard and let it dry.

Fill the Gaps

When the stained rope dries out, string it along the gap and force it in the space using the screwdriver, putty knife, or 5-in-1 tool. Stop when the rope flushes with or below the hardwood’s surface and trim it as needed using a utility knife.

Hardwood Flooring Repair in Austin

Issues like gaps are common occurrences in hardwood floors, especially in old homes. While the damage works differently with mold growth and overexposure to water, gaps are an inconvenience from an appearance standpoint. They ruin the classic look and flow they offer homes because of the dark spaces between the floorboards. These methods of fixing gaps on your hardwood floors can prevent that disturbance and keep the sophisticated appearance of your flooring.

Contact Kelly Hardwood Floors today for an expert consultation!