What can I do to fix the shrinking of my new laminate flooring? It’s happening on the ends of some boards, and I figure that maybe the affected pieces came from one box that wasn’t acclimatized properly. My condo is dry, but none of my neighbours are having trouble with their laminate floors.
The issue isn’t caused by shrinking boards, but by individual pieces of laminate sliding away from neighbouring pieces along the ends. Most laminates these days click together on their long edges during installation, but the end joints are just ordinary tongue and groove connections. They’re free to slide apart. If the edge-locked joints don’t offer enough friction, pieces of laminate will slide relative to each other, moving into the clearance gap intentionally left between the flooring and the walls. This gap is covered by baseboard, so you can’t see it, but the laminate is still free to slide. End-gap openings on laminate flooring happens most often in high traffic areas during winter, when the air is driest and the click joints are loosest.
The fix involves applying a tiny bit of wood glue in the open tongue and groove gap, then sliding the flooring together with your hand. I find a toothpick works well for getting the glue down where it needs to be on the exposed tongue itself. You could use regular white or yellow wood glue, but I prefer Chair Doctor (www.leevalley.com; 800-267-8767). It has very low viscosity that allows it to wick deep into the joint.
Before you apply glue, however, make a dry run, experimenting to discover the best way to move the flooring and close the gap. I find a sharp, angled blow from the palm of my hand works best. As soon as you’ve glued and closed the gap, wipe off excess glue with a damp rag. You should also take a look at other boards along the same row. Sometimes closing one gap opens another, but that’s okay. Simply glue and close new gaps the same way.