Laminate flooring consists to about 90% of wood. Being a natural organic material, wood is always in motion. It’s a common saying that “wood works”. What this means is the wood expands or contracts (or grows and shrinks) in response to changing temperatures and humidity. So the same thing applies to laminate flooring. A metre of laminate flooring can undergo dimensional fluctuations of about a millimetre. This is what makes it so important to leave a gap of 10mm where the panels abut walls, door frames, pipes and so forth. If this isn’t done, the material can suffer damage as a result of buckling, warping and so on. The tongue-and-groove joints can also suffer, and all this may void the terms of the warranty.
The gap around the edges of the floor, which are camouflaged by skirting boards, doesn’t allow enough play in large rooms. If a room is wider than 8 metres and/or longer than 12 metres, one or more additional expansion joints are needed in the middle.
To create an expansion joint in the middle of the floor, leave a gap between two adjacent panels instead of clicking them together as usual. So-called “transition profiles” can be obtained in DIY markets and specialised supply stores for covering these gaps. These are appropriately sized to visually disguise them. It’s a good idea to inquire about the kinds of profiles that are available before installing your laminate floor.
Nowadays you can take advantage of a huge range of transition profiles with different surfaces and in various colours to ensure that they perfectly match the décor of your laminate floor. Depending on the profile, the distance between the double-rail in the middle and the panel on each side of it should be at least 10mm. So if the rails are 5mm apart, the expansion joint will have a total width of 25mm. Spacers of the right size also come in very handy. After inserting a gap with a profile, you continue laying the laminate panels like at the start, i.e. beginning with a “first row”.
Large laminate floors have to include at least one expansion joint in the middle.
We recommend that you take the same approach when a laminate floor extends across more than one room. At the transition between two adjacent rooms, you face essentially the same situation as before. Transition profiles should also be inserted at door frames and where laminate meets another kind of floor covering.
Important Facts About Expansion Joints at a Glance: