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I've got my floor "half" installed already. No glue, or nailing, purely floating. We've got a foam underlayment and are using spacers. I'm noticing some trouble with the boards coming loose, gaps appearing between some of the boards. I'm wondering if the first row needs to be secured to the sub-floor (plywood over 6" planks) somehow. I'm really hoping that I don't have to pull up that first row, as that "row" is a bit not row-like, we have a great-room: living, dining and kitchen.

What can I do to tighten this up, without compromising the "breathing" of the floor, so as to avoid buckling etc?

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    Are these interlocking boards ( a kind of snap-lock system) or straight tongue and groove? – bib Oct 26 '15 at 20:34
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    I realize this is cabin grade flooring so you get a lot of short pieces, but that makes it much more important to make sure that you aren't letting the horizontal joints line up (top picture, bottom center). A good way to do this is to sort and rack all of your flooring by length, then make sure that each course gets an even distribution of lengths - i.e. 1 long, 3 medium, 5 short or whatever works out for the total length and distribution of your flooring lot. Then do a quick dry layout run to check spacing each course before you install them. – Comintern Oct 27 '15 at 1:55
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I've seen this opening of seams and it regularly happens with a "snap together"-type floor. Unless the manufacturer states the flooring can be secured it would be wise not to chance any repercussions that may occur. The working mechanics for a floating floor system is to allow the planks to expand and contract freely (that's the reason for the 3/8 inch spacing along the wall). If no allowance is made for movement the boards will move in the plane of least resistance, usually upwards. I found that it's easiest to close the gap by kicking the board tight with a rubber soled sneaker. Nice looking floor BTW.

  • Thank you! It's a cabin-grade cherry stained hickory (tongue and groove). We wanted the cabin grade because we love the character of all of the defects/knots, and because we have three young boys... I've been trying the kicking method and have found that it displaced all of the boards in the far corner there by the fireplace. I'm thinking that I'll just work on sucking all the space out this way, then re-board the corner to suck up the extra gap. What do you think about this approach? I've read where you can glue the end seams of the first row and was curious if this would help at all? – Ivan Pointer Oct 26 '15 at 23:04
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    Have you seen this specialized tool for flooring? It's essentially a ratcheting strap with flat metal hooks on each end. Anchor each end along floor boards and ratcheting tightens the opposing boards tight. The other trick is to cut wooden wedges and tap them along the boards edge. Even a pry bar with a scrap wood cushion might help. It's worth a try before removing installed flooring. – ojait Oct 27 '15 at 0:28
  • I've never had any sort of luck with the ratchet straps. I usually take a scrap of oak with a groove routed in it for the tongue of the flooring and use it as a block to tap them together with a mallet. A strip of 3/8 plywood used as a spacer against the wall will keep everything from moving. – Comintern Oct 27 '15 at 1:47
  • Thank you guys! I ended up using the rubber-soled shoe technique. I kicked the boards in towards the center of the room (away from the corner). Once I had sucked all of that space out, I lifted the boards out of the corner and re-cut new ones to fill in the existing space. Also, I started running the cuttings from the boards through the miter saw, to create wedges to use as spacers. We bought two boxes of the plastic wedges, but quickly ran out so I decided to use the trimmings, as I saw it in a couple videos I watched on YouTube. The kits I bought came with a rubber block and a pull bar. – Ivan Pointer Oct 27 '15 at 16:56
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You are using tongue and grove flooring. When installing this floor as floating, you still need to glue the boards together. They make a wood glue for this and it can usually be found in the box hardware stores in the flooring section or at any flooring store. You just need to run a bead down the grove before installing it. If you don't glue this floor together, you will find it will come apart when people run over it or just generally live in the house. Only the click-lock floors do not need to be glued together.

From the pictures, you need to plan the floor a little bit better. When putting down the courses, you need to space the joints about 4 inches from each other. This is for strength and making your floor last longer.

Also to prevent buckling, the goal is to let the floor stretch and contract with the seasons. By pinning the edges, you cause the floor pull apart when it wants to contract. And buckle when it wants to expand.

  • I was afraid that we really did need to glue it down. We did some research and decided from what we found that we didn't need to glue it. With how far we are with the installation, I feel that these floors may be temporary, only getting us by for the next 5 years or so before we buy higher quality flooring, and glue it together... – Ivan Pointer Oct 27 '15 at 16:55
  • I wish I could select two answers because this is the correct way to do it, I should've done it this way from the start. I chose the other answer because it is more directly what I need for my current situation. Your advice is most definitely going to help me down the road when I replace these floors again. The good part about this run was that this flooring was quite cheap, and I spent far more time preparing for the floor, than I have actually installing. I had a section of the downstairs that had 1/4 plywood, where the rest is 5/8 particle board. I had to rip out a lot of floor too. – Ivan Pointer Oct 27 '15 at 17:05
  • @IvanPointer no issue. But I have a feeling you are not completely getting it. There are 3 main install methods. Glue down, nail down and float. Glue down is where the floor is literally glued to the sub floor. Nail down is where you nail the boards to a wood sub floor. And float is where the floor floats about the sub floor. But in a float the boards still need to be bounded to each other. With click-lock, they have enough grip to keep from coming apart. But with tongue and grove you need to put a bead of glue in the grove so the boards are bound together. – diceless Oct 27 '15 at 17:27
  • @IvanPointer since you have a wood sub flooor, I highly recommend doing a nail down for the permanent floor as you can do much larger areas without the risk of buckling. When floating, there is a max size the manufacture will set before expansions joints are needed to prevent buckling. – diceless Oct 27 '15 at 17:31
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    Your right he does! I still got the impression that it was the 'snap together'- type flooring. "Potato. Pototo" – ojait Oct 28 '15 at 19:49
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make them tight together in average temperature for your room, measure the gap against the wall and fill in with an elastomer- silicone is enough ( but not acrylic), PU sealer or cork might be to hard, buy silicone sq strips for the wooden flooring. wood will shrink and expand, if you lay the floor in the right temperature- silicone will deflect when wood expanding and then spring back when shrinking- shrinkage may not be even noticed. if the underlay is too soft and too spongy, or the subfloor uneven, planks will also move excessively causing joints to split. Not important- the floor looks old, dark and creepy, like from an old granny house, why would you bother with something like that anyway? When I am struggling with something I want this to look nice modern and as new forever....

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