Laminate flooring expansion gap guide

Laminate flooring expansion gap guide

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As our team of expert fitters will tell you, when laying a new laminate floor, you’ll need an expansion gap for your flooring. Proper expansion gaps around the room you’re getting your new flooring installed in are important, and we’re here to give you all the information you need to ensure your expansion gap knowledge is up to date.

We’ll take you through exactly what a laminate flooring expansion gap is, and why your laminate flooring needs to expand in the first place. We’ll also take you through the best size for an expansion gap, and how best to cover it up with both skirting boards and beading or scotia.

What is a laminate flooring expansion gap?

Creating a gap around the edges of the room is crucial when you're installing laminate and engineered wood flooring. This gap, known as the expansion gap, should run all the way around the room wherever the flooring meets things like walls, stairs, doorways, radiator pipes, or fireplaces. It gives your flooring the space it needs to adjust properly and is necessary to allow your flooring to expand.

Why does laminate flooring expand?

Just like any type of wood, laminate flooring is porous. This means it can react to things like temperature and humidity changes by expanding and contracting, which is why you need to let your laminate flooring acclimatise for up to 48 hours when it first arrives at your home.

Since laminate is designed to "float" on your floor and should never be nailed or glued down, it needs room to ‘breathe’ without being blocked by walls, doorways, or cabinets - these could become tight spots that cause problems for your flooring in the long run, especially during times of year when the weather is much hotter or colder.

Without an expansion gap, your flooring will have no room to move and instead will be forced upwards, causing them to become bouncy and look warped. Our guides on ‘Why is my laminate floor lifting?’ and ‘Why is my laminate floor bouncy?’ have lots more information if you’ve already reached this point and need to know how to understand more.  

What size of expansion gap do I need for laminate flooring?

The expansion gap you need will vary from product to product, so it’s best to check the instructions that come with your flooring. As a good rule of thumb though, you can judge the expansion gap by the thickness of the flooring – so an 8mm thick laminate requires a minimum of an 8mm expansion gap.

Sometimes your expansion gap might seem too big once your flooring has had time to settle, and this is often caused by not allowing your flooring to acclimatise in the room that it will be laid in. This can often mean that your flooring hasn’t had time to adequately adjust to the climate and temperature.

What is the best edge for laminate floors?

Once your expansion gap is laid out and all your laminate flooring is installed, you will find that your expansion gap is visible around the edges of the room – how can you cover it? There are a couple of ways you can cover up your expansion gap, including:

  • Beading/scotia
  • Skirting boards
  • Trim

You must not try to fill the gap with anything like caulk or foam, as the space is essential for your laminate flooring to expand. So how do you know if you need skirting or beading?


Do you need beading for laminate flooring?

If you have installed new flooring in a room without first removing the skirting boards, then you will need beading to cover the expansion gap. If you’re installing new skirting boards at the same time as installing your laminate flooring, then you won’t need to invest in beading for your floors. This will give you a smooth look all around the edges of the room.

You can even find covers to go around radiator and plumbing pipes that you’ve laid your laminate flooring around. Skirting boards are useful for not only hiding the raw edges of your laminate flooring and the gap that they’ve left between the boards and the wall, but for hiding other items like plumbing pipes or electric wires too.

And it doesn’t need to be a hassle painting them either – our guide on how to paint your skirting boards has all the info you need to paint your skirting boards without marking your new floors.

Fitting your laminate flooring and ensuring that your expansion gap is exactly right can be easy when you use our fitting service. We've got a little black book of professional fitters across the UK, and we have complete confidence in their ability to install your laminate or flooring swiftly and flawlessly.

They'll handle the cleanup, removing any offcuts and giving your new flooring a thorough vacuuming so that it's all set for you to enjoy right away. Pop into your local Tapi store or book a free home visit for us to come to you and we’ll get your laminate flooring sorted before you can blink!

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