It’s important to leave a gap between laminate flooring and the wall. Why and how much?

When installing laminate flooring, it’s important to leave a gap between the panel edges and all walls. But don’t worry: the gap will be hidden by the skirting boards.

Why is a gap at the walls important?

The backing material of laminate flooring panels is high-density fibreboard (HDF), to which décor papier is attached. HDF boards consist to 90% of wood fibre, and this renewable natural resource responds sensitively to changing environmental conditions such as heat, cold and moisture. Experts refer to it hygroscopic, meaning that it expands and contracts as a result of absorbing and releasing moisture. That is why the panels need a little extra room: otherwise there is a risk they will press against the walls and warp.

How wide should the gap be between the laminate flooring and the walls?

You should leave a 10mm gap between the laminate flooring and the walls on all sides. The same applies to other solid objects such as doorframes, heating pipes, stoves and radiators that are flush with the floor and furniture. This free centimetre won’t be visible later because it will be covered by skirting boards or transition profiles.

If the room is larger than 8 by 12 metres, you should also include an expansion joint in the middle.

How can I make sure that the gap has the right width?

Insert spacers or wedges, which you can get from any DIY market, between the wall and the flooring. A cheaper alternative is to use common household items such as clothespins, corks, wooden blocks or the like.

While laying the first row of panels, put spacers between the wall and the flooring roughly 50cm apart. Make sure that they aren’t right at joints between panels – move them slightly to one side if that is the case. And leave them where they are until you have laid the last row so that nothing can slip out of place while you’re working. Removing them at the end is easier with wedges from the DIY market, as household items can tend to get stuck.

The KRONOTEX movie clips also provide useful support. In these tutorials, we show you how quick and easy it is to install snap-together laminate flooring. Wall gaps are covered in the #cut-and-clic clip.

What can happen if I don’t leave a gap of the right width all the way round?

If the gap doesn’t consistently have the right width, it’s more likely that your new laminate flooring may be damaged, which would be a shame. Things that can happen include arching or warping of the flooring, cracks, peeling of the surface layer or breaking of the tongue-and-groove joints, none of which can be easily fixed.

The warranty on your new laminate flooring will also be voided if you fail to include a gap of the right width between it and all fixed objects. So there are plenty of good reasons to make the effort.