Vinyl plank flooring is a great alternative to higher-priced hardwood floors. The plank flooring provides you the same luxurious look, and it is much more cost-effective. Vinyl flooring is typically much more comfortable to install with either a click-together, glue-down, or loose lay type of installation. When floor gaps occur, it should be easy enough to fix.
You can and you should fix vinyl plank flooring gaps before exploring other options. It isn’t as difficult to fix this type of floor as you may think it is. Due to the inexpensive nature of this flooring, you may want to replace it, but that should be the last option.
In this article, you will learn what causes vinyl plank flooring gaps and how to fix them. You will see that the process is a quick and straightforward solution to a complete flooring replacement. The end result is that the floors will look just as good as they were beforehand.
What Causes Vinyl Plank Flooring Gaps?
Finding gaps in your vinyl plank flooring can be extremely frustrating, especially if it is a relatively recent install. There are many causes of these gaps that range from human-made to environmental. Here are some of the most common causes of gaps in your vinyl floors.
Heat and Cold Exposure
One of the significant causes of gaps in your flooring is hot and cold temperatures. Heat tends to expand vinyl, and cold will retract it. The constant battle with the elements will leave gaps in your flooring. You are most likely to experience gaps in a heavy traffic zone. Other affected areas include near windows, close to vents, and in rooms that change in precipitation.
The constant change in heat or cold will cause these gaps to occur. It doesn’t matter what kind of vinyl flooring you are using; gaps can and will occur at some point. The idea is just to be prepared when those gaps show up.
As stated above, rooms that change in precipitation are going to experience gaps in the floors. Moisture is a significant cause of gaps forming because it can get underneath the floors. When moisture gets trapped under the flooring, like in the case of spilled water, it can weaken the vinyl’s integrity.
If you glue the boards down, the moisture will weaken the glue and cause the boards to shift. If you use click-together or lose lay, the boards will shift in moisture as they slide around. It would help if you were extremely careful to use waterproof vinyl in areas where moisture is a constant, such as the kitchen or bathroom.
However, moisture can occur in another room, as well. A dropped vase of flowers or condensation dripping from a window. This moisture will wreak havoc on your floors when they are not prepared for the water.
Moving Heavy Objects
When it comes to loose-lay vinyl plank flooring, you need to be careful when moving heavy objects. The mere act of dragging a heavy object across the floor can shift the vinyl and cause it to gap. To help prevent this, you should be lifting furniture rather than dragging it. Another good idea is to have felt pads under the feet of, particularly heavy furniture.
How to Fix Gaps in Vinyl Plank Flooring
When vinyl flooring is manufactured, it is designed to be tight and square when installed. That means that there will be no gaps in between the planks. Because the flooring is built like that, there is no need for grouting or filling newly installed vinyl planks.
However, as stated above, there are various reasons that over time vinyl planks will shift, and gaps will occur that need to be filled. Filling these gaps is necessary to keep the integrity of the floor.
Glued or Clicked-In Floors
When you have floors that are glued down or clicked in place, it isn’t easy to replace a section without wreaking havoc on the rest of the floor. Here are the steps to fixing the gaps:
- Clean the floors the same way you would when you are moping them. Use a cleaner to remove all the debris and dirt that builds up in the gap. You could also vacuum the gap to remove excess debris.
- Wait at least 24 hours for the floor to dry and then check that all dirt has been removed from the gap. If there is nothing there, use your finger to check that the gap is dry.
- Use clear caulking to fill the gap between the planks. You can use a putty knife to ensure that the caulking is pushed down and covers the entire space of the gap. Scrape off excess caulking and wait for it to dry.
- Paint over the spot with a stain or paint that matches the rest of the floor. You want to wait at least 24 hours before you step on the fixed flooring. Check that it is dry and hardened before walking on it.
Note: You can use enamel to fix the gaps the same way as the caulking as well.
Loose Lay Floors
When you are using loose lay floors, it can be just as quick and easy to fix a gap. Simply use a rubber mallet to nudge the board together again from the end of the row. You can also get tools that will fix the gaps and fill them with this sticky substance. Double-sided tape and rubber mallet work the same way.
Place the double-sided tape in the gap, use a small piece of 4 X 4 lumber and place it over top of the gap. Then, use the rubber mallet and hit the woodblock until the gap closes. It will open another gap nearby, and you will keep doing this until you can hide the gap behind a baseboard.
All Vinyl Plank Floor Types
If you have extra or can get the same vinyl floor planks, you may want to replace the section where the gap is located. Since vinyl plank flooring offers you the flexibility to fix sections without needing to replace the entire floor, this is a good option when the gap is too large for a more straightforward fix.
Verdict: Yes, You Can and Should Fix Vinyl Plank Floor Gaps
Gaps will occur in your vinyl floors, and when they do, you can fix them with ease. You don’t have to replace the entire floor when there are simple solutions to the gap issues. The only reason you may need to replace the floor is if there are multiple significant gaps.
The simple fixes listed above are good options when there are only a couple of smaller gaps that need to be fixed. Larger gaps can require a section being replaced rather than repaired. However, replacement is the last option.
Gaps will occur in your vinyl plank flooring for a lot of reasons. It can be changed in the weather, moisture, or even moving around heavy furniture. When gaps occur, you don’t want to have to change out the entire floor to fix it. You can fix the gaps using the methods above to help you get your floor looking pristine again.
If the gaps are too large to fix with any of the above solutions, you want to replace the flooring, but that should be a last resort. There are much cheaper and simpler options that you can explore before pulling up the floors in your home.