Should I have an expansion gap

Oak flooring including all ranges sold at Elesco should be installed with an expansion gap around the perimeter of the room.  The designs you choose does not affect this, herringbone, chevrons, mansions weave and planks all need an expansion gap.  We recommend a 10-15mm gap for expansion.  The reason you need an expansion gap is that oak flooring are natural products, they will absorb and lose moisture, and this cause the flooring to expand and contract.  If you installed the flooring without an expansion gap you run the risk of damaging the flooring or whatever it touches.  For instance, if you butted the flooring up to a tiled floor you could end up cracking the tiles as the wood pushed against it, or in extreme circumstances the flooring itself can buckle.  The questions are how you can cover and hide the gaps.

In most cases the easiest solution is using skirting boards.  Many clients will buy new skirting boards and install these after the flooring is down, this effectively covers the gap.  Old skirting boards can be removed and reused, for this carefully score the join where the skirting board meets the wall and then prise the boards off the wall with a wide flat tool.  This job can sometimes be very easy or very hard it just depends how they were installed.  Once you have removed the skirting boards you will need to clean up the backs to remove any adhesive so they fit flush to the wall, and it would be worthwhile adding a coat of paint whilst they are off.  In certain houses the skirting boards can not be replaced, in this situation you can use a form of beading, I would recommend painting the beading the same colour as the skirting board, not the same colour as the floor.  The last option if the skirting can not be removed is to undercut the skirting, you may struggle to find a joinery to do this task as it can leave gaps and is not a simple task.  The risk with undercutting the skirting is you cannot easily control the expansion gap, and, in some cases, you may end up touching the wall and therefore have no gap.

Other areas to consider are where you have no skirting board, i.e., internal doorways, external doors ways, fireplaces etc.  For these area Elesco can offer you a wide range of thresholds, these would be coloured to match the flooring.  This then leaves the expansion gap in place with a clean subtle threshold.  We offer, flat edges, T profiles, half ramps and full ramps.

It is always important to maintain the expansion gap around all sides of the flooring, it will not work to leave a gap on 2 of the sides and the other 2 sides are installed up to another surface.

For more information on the installation of Elesco floors please visit our technical page or contact the office.

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