The question “does engineered wood flooring require an expansion gap?” is a question which is frequently asked by anyone investing in engineered wood flooring for the first time. While a professional fitter will look after all the requirements of your engineered wood flooring installation, if you are planning a DIY engineered wood flooring installation, it’s well worth checking things out carefully.
Wood is a natural product and as such expands and contracts with changes in moisture and temperature. Solid wood, as the name suggests is made from one single piece of wood and is highly susceptible to expansion and contraction due to atmospheric changes. Although engineered wood flooring is made from a combination of plywood and a solid oak lamella or top layer, it still suffers some expansion and contraction with atmospheric fluctuations.
So, while engineered wood flooring withstands temperature and moisture changes much better than solid wood, you should still anticipate a small element of expansion and contraction. As a result, when it comes to installing engineered wood flooring you must leave an expansion gap, otherwise you could come up against severe problems in the future.
Expansion gaps should be left wherever the floor comes up against a fixed object, for example, next to a wall, a doorway or a heating pipe. A general rule of thumb is that you should allow 1.5mm expansion gap all around the room and wherever there is a fixed object. There are also guidelines for large rooms, which recommend an expansion gap allowance for (on average) every 12 metres of length and 8 metres of width. That said, if you are in any doubt about how much of an expansion gap and how often an expansion gap should be left when fitting your engineered wood flooring, you should seek the advice of an expert. Extra time invested in planning at the start of the project will save nasty surprises and problems later in the day.
When it comes to fitting methods for engineered wood flooring, there are various options and one of the most common and most popular is the glue-down method. If you are opting for a full glue-down method of installation for your engineered wood flooring, this is the only time when expansion gaps are not required when working over large areas. That said, you must still, even in the glue-down method of installation, allow a 1.5mm expansion gap where your engineered wood flooring meets a fixed object to allow for expansion and contraction.