How to fill gaps in oak flooring

Written by cynthia measom
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Gapping between oak floor boards is common. Gapping is caused by changes in seasonal climate or humidity. For instance, in winter, the relative humidity is generally lower, and floorboards will shrink, which will result in gaps. During summer, the opposite effect occurs when humidity increases. Consequently, the wood will swell and the gaps will decrease or close. Many times the resulting gaps are not noticeable. Yet sometimes they are quite apparent and unsightly, which will compel some homeowners to find a solution to correct the problem.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Putty knife or painter's tool
  • Vacuum or broom and dustpan
  • Tape measure
  • Natural fibre rope (different sizes)
  • Wood stain

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  1. 1

    Scrape any existing debris from between the oak flooring planks. Insert a putty knife or a painter's tool between the planks and dislodge the debris. Be careful not to damage the boards when scraping.

  2. 2

    Vacuum or sweep up the debris that was dislodged from between the planks.

  3. 3

    Assess the gaps between the oak flooring planks. Take a measurement of the widest part of the gap. This measurement will help you decide what size rope to purchase.

  4. 4

    Purchase several different small sizes of natural-fibre rope from your local hardware or home improvement store. Here are some sizes and circumferences of rope:

    Size of rope (Circumference) 4mm (1/2 inch) 5mm (5/8 inch) 6mm (3/4 inch) 7mm (7/8 inch) 8mm (1 inch) 10mm (1-1/4 inch) 12mm (1-1/2 inch) 14mm (1-3/4 inch) 16mm (2 inches)

  5. 5

    Check to see what size rope will fit in the gaps. Take a piece of rope and use the putty knife or painter's tool to push it down into each gap.

  6. 6

    Stain the rope with wood stain that matches the colour of the existing oak floor. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

  7. 7

    Use the painter's tool or putty knife to insert the stained rope between the gaps in the oak flooring planks. Be prepared to force the rope into the gaps in order to get a snug fit.

Tips and warnings

  • Staining the rope is optional, but it will help to camouflage the rope.

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