Vinyl plank flooring is becoming increasingly popular and replicates hardwood floors so immaculately that you may not even notice that it isn’t hardwood. These are a cheaper choice to the more expensive floor styles, and they hold up well under wear and tear. When your vinyl plank floor starts to separate, you should fix it.
You can and should fix a separating vinyl plank flooring. However, there are circumstances where fixing the flooring is not worth your while. But most vinyl floor planks can be fixed using a simple solution and does not require a complete replacement.
This article will explore why vinyl plank floors separate, including the elements, installation, and movement mistakes. Read on to find out how to fix the issue when the separation occurs. These fixes include the replacement of sections, using caulking or enamel, and adhesives.
What Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Separation?
Vinyl plank flooring comes in three primary types. These types are:
- Glue-down – These boards are glued down to the subfloor.
- Click-in – The boards go together like a jigsaw puzzle where they click together.
- Loose lay – These boards are also like a jigsaw but only fit together without anything holding them in place.
Separation is characterized by small gaps or separations that you can see between vertical floorboards. It isn’t between the horizontal lines, but rather the longest running lines of the boards.
What Causes Vinyl Plank Separation?
Several things can cause separation in your floorboards. As frustrating as this separation is, there isn’t much you can do about it except repair the issue or replace the floors. However, some causes are human-made and can be avoided.
The Weather Can Cause Planks to Expand And Contract
Heat and cold are the primary reasons for separation. The vinyl plank flooring can expand and retract depending on how hot or cold the room is. When it is incredibly warm outside, and the room is hotter, you will notice the flooring will be a tighter fit because of expansion.
If it is extremely cold and the room feels cold, then you will see the separation. The temperature affecting the boards also pertains to locations, such as near an air conditioning unit or vent.
The separation may not occur just because it went from summer to winter. Still, the constant change from hot to cold, like turning your house temperature way down at night in the winter and up during the day, can impact the boards as they continually change in size due to temperature. Thus, the constant expansion and retraction can leave the floor plank to separate.
Moving Heavy Furniture Can Shift Planks Around
Heavy furniture does weigh on the floors. Though they are designed to carry the weight, when you move any piece of furniture by dragging it on the floor, it can shift the planks and cause them to separate. This is because the moving of heavy furniture can weaken the integrity of the floors.
It is best to move heavy furniture to lift it and carry it to the new location. Another way to protect the integrity of the floor is to use pads under the furniture’s feet. Simple fixes can prevent a lot of frustration in the long run.
A New Home’s Vinyl Flooring May Need Time to Settle
When you lay vinyl plank flooring of any kind in a new home, you are probably going to see separation over time. The problem that is experienced most often with newly built homes is that they need to settle.
A settling home goes through various phases. For example, the soil dug out for the foundation needs to settle to become naturally compacted. When it rains or snows, the water will settle in the soil and further compact, thus shifting the entire home from the foundation.
The wood used to build the home will also go through the same issue, as stated above, with the vinyl plank floors in heat and cold. The boards will expand and retract depending on the temperature that will also cause settling in the home. Most contractors know how to install the flooring to prevent gaps during settling, but that doesn’t always work out as planned.
Ultimately, it is up to nature, the way it was installed, and the home as to how it will impact your floors. Regardless, be prepared that if you install vinyl plank flooring in a newly built home, there will probably be some separation of the planks.
How to Fix Vinyl Plank Flooring Separation: Caulking
Just because you see the planks’ separation does not mean you need to replace the entire floor. You can try to fix the issues before a complete overhaul, and one way is through caulking.
You can use caulking to help fix separating plank floors. Caulking not only holds up the integrity of the floor, but it also acts as a barrier between water. Furthermore, it is flexible enough to allow for expansion and retraction without leaving apparent signs.
- Pick the right caulking. You can get latex, which is a low odor and has excellent expansion characteristics. Another right choice is acrylic, as it is suitable for the long term and is much more durable than latex with more significant wear and tear capabilities. Finally, silicone caulking is best when you live in a climate with extreme temperatures, as it will withstand any harsh conditions.
- Clean the floors very well, including in between the separating boards to ensure that no dust particles or other debris are in the way. Use both the vacuum and water to make sure all is removed.
- Ensure there are no obstructions in the room when you go to caulk, including kids or pets.
- Use masking tape to protect the floors to avoid getting caulking anywhere other than where you want it to be.
- Apply the caulking. As you apply the caulking, use a damp finger to remove excess caulk and ensure that the planks’ separation is filled.
- If the caulked area is prominent, you can use a stain or paint close to the plank flooring color and paint over it to have it blend in. If you are painting it, don’t use silicone caulking as it doesn’t do well with paint.
Verdict: You Can and Should Fix Vinyl Plank Flooring Separation
Separation of vinyl plank flooring can be annoying and inconvenient, but it can be fixed with the right caulking and some paint. You don’t have to accept that the separation is something you have to live with or make you replace the floors entirely.
The weather elements and settling homes are nothing you can stop or change. Therefore, learning how to fix issues that can come with these things is vital to keeping your floors looking spectacular and in pristine shape.
The only time you will want to replace the floors due to separation is if the floors have many large gaps in them. In which case, poor installation is probably the issue, and a complete overhaul might be a good idea.
When you install vinyl plank flooring, there is going to be some separation over time. You can’t help that. However, you don’t have to live with it either. You can fix the planks’ separation and make your home look new again without having to redo them completely.
Vinyl plank flooring is still a great alternative to more expensive types of flooring, such as hardwood. Additionally, other flooring types can and will experience separation issues as well. Fixing the issue is quick and straightforward. You don’t need to panic when you see a separation. It is an easy fix. Soon enough, you will have beautiful floors again.