For laminate flooring expansion space is required around walls, fixed objects all vertical surfaces and even screws and other fasteners used to hold an item in place such as a closet slider on top of the laminate floor. Failure to leave the proper expansion space will often result in the planks squeaking, lifting or separating. Even a single plank such as in the picture above can lock in a floor and cause problems for other parts of the installation.
Expansion Space Walls and Fixed Objects
During laminate floor installation the proper expansion space must be left around all walls and vertical surfaces.
Without the proper expansion space a floor may buckle and gap due to the normal expansion and contraction of the laminate floating floor.
Expansion space must be left around fixed objects such as pipes, cabinets, fireplace hearths, sliding glass door tracks, floor outlets, floor vents and thresholds.
The size of the required expansion space can range from 1/8″ to more than 1/4″ depending upon the manufacturer and product.
The failure to leave proper expansion space locks in the floor and can resulting in buckling or tenting of the floor and separation at the floor joints.
An installer must also be careful not to leave a space wider than the door base or molding that is used along the wall or other fixed object to cover the expansion space.
On floating floors that click together the problem is often seen as gaps developing at the seams.
When a floor is tenting upward and lifting off of the subfloor it is obvious that the laminate has expanded and is locked in at some point.
Most laminate manufacturers require that a T-Molding be installed at all doorways under 4 feet wide.
The T-Molding allows the laminate floating floor to expand and contract.
Failure to use the T-Molding will often cause the laminate floor to tent, buckle or develop gaps.
Do not fasten T-Molding through the laminate floor or with fasteners against the edge of the laminate floor as this will lock the floor in.
Under Cutting Door Jambs
Door Jambs need to be undercut to allow for expansion space.
When a jamb is undercut as poorly as seen in photograph this is an installation related concern.
When door casings are not undercut and the floor is locked in this also becomes an installation related concern.