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Help! What are expansion breaks and do I need them?

lkloc's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 1

08-09-13, 08:46 AM   #1  
Help! What are expansion breaks and do I need them?

Installing an engineered click bamboo floor in LR, DR, small foyer and hall--570 sf. I thought I was all set but just read in the instructions the need for expansion breaks. What!? All the videos I've watched on YouTube and posts I've read have not mentioned or shown this. And I'm having trouble finding info on it. I need to know if I need to worry about this and if so, 1. what it looks like so I can visualize it, and 2. how to do it.

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Northern Mike's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2012
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08-09-13, 08:58 AM   #2  
Welcome to the forum.

Not being a flooring guy (but will be doing some in the near future), I did a quick google search and found that the few sites mentioning expansion breaks, it's suggested that one be installed for every ~12m long (~40ft), ~8m in width (~26ft).
It was also mentioned that if the engineered flooring was glued to the subfloor, this would not be required.

Regardless, a gap for expansion should be left along all hard surfaces (walls, doors, etc). One site recommended a minimum of 1.5mm (0.06in) gap around the perimeter. Sounds a bit small to me. Personally I'd look at ~1/8" inch as the baseboard trim should still easily hide it, and high sections in a floor is a pain to remove after it swells.

joecaption1's Avatar
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08-09-13, 03:06 PM   #3  
Why would you be looking on You Tube? All your going to get is generic info.
You need to be going on the manufactures web site, printing out the install directions and reading and understanding them before ever installing the flooring.
There the one's going to be warrantying this floor.

HardwoodGuy's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12

08-20-13, 04:46 AM   #4  
YouTube? Be careful...some pitiful information out there.

It's all about moisture with expansion and engineered floating products Aside of that there really should not be the need for these so called breaks on 570 sf, providing you keep a balanced expansion area around the perimeter of the areas involved. Keeping that expansion area isn't easy as you continue through the installation especially under door casings that hide the work you've been doing. One has to keep a good eye on what's happening, otherwise a tenting or buckling issue may arise. BUT only if the moisture levels of the area involved rise substantially which can be as simple as keeping the home open for weeks at a time in the humid summer months of Virgina.

I would shoot for 1/2 inch expansion to be on the safe side. There's an old saying in the wood flooring business. Keep your expansion the thickness of the flooring being used. I'm really surprised breaks were mentioned unless it's a laminate floor. But then it could also be a Chinese product where they're fairly handy in copying generic information from elsewhere.

sam floor's Avatar
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08-20-13, 08:51 AM   #5  
All organic products expand and contract, especially wood and grass(bamboo). Even your wall studs do a little. That is why you need the expansion joints. You basically have two things, floor and wall, expanding and contracting at the same time. I would go to the manufacturers website and do whatever they say.

IliaOrkin's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 3

08-22-13, 10:08 AM   #6  
Usually we leave an expansion gap that is 1/3 of the thickness of your floor. So if your floor is 3/4", you should leave 1/4" for expansion all around. You need these because your moisture levels will rise at one point or another and force your planks to slightly expand. Instead of pushing through the walls they will form bumps on your floor as the planks squeeze themselves together.

Always refer to manufacturer instructions, the 1/3rd rule is a standard rule for most wood or laminate coverings.

Also, avoid screwing down your floor if it reaches a landing. Some people screw in a metal molding on the edge of a landing, this also keeps the floor from moving with humidity and might cause bumps.

If your floor is on an extremely large area (40ft long or more), then you might need to stick a T-Joint as a separation in the middle of the floor or near the end. However, I'm 99% sure you won't need this with 570sqft.

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