How to Fix Hardwood Floor Gaps and Cracks
Your family and pets are not the ones in your home to feel the temperature drop as the season’s change. Your hardwood floors change with the weather as well. It is common for gaps to appear and form in hardwood floors as the humidity changes. Holes start to develop when the wood compresses and expands. When the humidity and temperature fall and rise, hardwood loses and gains moisture.
Regardless of whether your hardwood floor is newly installed or has been around for years, you can reduce the chance of gaps forming. Using a room or furnace humidifier will minimize the likelihood of gaps forming in the future.
Do Not Wait
Once you discover gaps in your hardwood, you should take action immediately. The method you use to fix the gap will depend on its size, sturdiness of the floor, and the number of holes. If there are too many gaps, notably wide gaps, or if the floor moves too much (loose or creaky boards), it may need comprehensive repair. You should also first determine whether the gap is even a cause for concern. If the gap closes when the humidity increases, the floor will likely not need any work done. You can consult a professional to be sure if your gaps need fixing or not.
Different Repair Methods
The most extensive and costly repair method is replacing the floor completely. Usually, you can simply fill the gaps with putty, wood filler, or with pieces of rope along with a stain that matches the floor. Using rope is a more traditional way of fixing floors, but is also good for preventing drafts from coming through the floor.
Fillers like powder, putty, or even caulk can also be an effective method. These are best for narrow gaps here and there. Keep in mind though as the floor contracts and expands from changes in humidity, the filler may become loose and come out.
How to Start
Begin by first cleaning any debris that might be between the gap. Use a putty knife or your fingers to apply the filler liberally allowing for some overflow. You can sand the extra filler once it has dried and stain where needed. You may have to do this process again if the filler comes out of the floor or cracks.
You will likely need to use rope, narrow pieces of wood, or wood shims to fix wider gaps. This process is more time consuming but is also more permanent and looks more beautiful than paste or putty. When starting this method, ensure the floorboards are secure. Measure rope or narrow pieces of wood to the length of the gaps and use an adhesive to stick the piece in place. You can finish this process with sanding and staining once the rope or wood filler has dried.
When filling any gap, be sure to do it when the weather is most humid as this will be when the gap is smallest, reducing the chance of the pieces of wood or shims from splitting or cracking when the wood expands.
It is essential to check the manufacturer’s guide before starting any type of work on your hardwood. Be sure the products you use are safe for your wood and follow directions accurately. Heavily damaged floor may benefit more from being replaced completely, so call a professional to have your damaged assessed first.