Wooden floors are beautiful and easy to take care of, but they also hold an unsightly feature. Since they are made of wood, they experience the same contracting and expanding of all wooden items. Over time, a floor made of wood panels will undergo some movement; this will create gaps in the floor. Air temperature and moisture levels in your apartment are also key components to gap creation. Make sure the air is not too dry and the floor moisture level is not too high when you are installing your boards. Without proper precaution, gaps of up to a 1/4 inch may develop in the ground.
How can you fix these gaps in wood floors?
The word "fix" may not exactly apply to the gaps in your floor. Truly large gaps should be dealt with by a professional, but home remedies can help fix smaller gaps in wood flooring.
The first approach to fix any gaps in your wooden floors should be to attack moisture levels. Your tool in this case will be a humidifier. The gaps are caused by dry air; you may notice that in the summer, some or all of the gaps will disappear. Summer's high humidity is easily replicated simply by using a humidifier.
If the above option is not effective enough on your larger wooden floor gaps, you can try to fill in the holes with the following two options:
- Buy wood filler and try to patch the gaps. Smooth along the surface and do not use excessive filler. Patching will work temporarily and aesthetically, but improper moisture levels may cause further expansion and push on the filled area.
- Using spare wood boards of the flooring you have, you can try to fill in the gaps in your floor. You can repurpose flooring from a closet or other hidden space if you don't have spare boards lying around. Estimate the size of the gap and cut a straight strip off of extra floor boards. Do not make the strip too thick; it should fit in between the gap. Add glue to the sides and slip the cut strip into the gap. Use a mallet to fit the strip into the gap completely.
For each of the above options, finishing will be key. If the floor is not level, use some sandpaper to carefully reduce bumps and grooves.
The most important action to take to keep your wooden floors gap-free will be to regulate moisture levels. The above fixes can temporarily patch gaps, but further expansion or contraction can occur around filler. A nifty option is to fill with a length of rope and stain it to the color of your wood floors. If the gap is small enough, the rope will fill the gap and look like wood, while allowing for expansion or contraction from the floor boards around it.