How to Fill Gaps Between Floorboards

Written by kevin mcdermott
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If you've got an old wide-plank wood floor---especially a soft wood such as pine---you may find that gaps of as wide as half an inch form between the boards at certain times of the year. This is a natural expansion-and-contraction property in wood floors, and an annoying one. Many a homeowner has tried to fill in those gaps with wood putty, only to see it crumble the next time the gaps change size. It's better to fill those gaps with natural rope, stained to the shade of the floor, because it will expand and contract with the wood.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Hemp rope (very thick, with multiple strands)
  • Utility knife
  • Newspapers
  • Gallon of wood stain
  • Putty knife

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  1. 1

    Vacuum all debris and dust out of the gaps.

  2. 2

    Lay your hemp rope alongside one of the gaps, from end to end. Cut the rope to the length of the gap, using your utility knife.

  3. 3

    Unwind the multiple strands of the rope to get a strand (or combination of strands) that's about 50 per cent wider than the gap.

  4. 4

    Repeat steps 2 and 3 to get a length of hemp rope of the right thickness for each gap.

  5. 5

    Shake a gallon can of wood stain. Immerse all the cut sections of hemp rope in the stain one by one, then lay them out on newspapers to dry for 24 hours.

  6. 6

    Lay a length of stained hemp rope on the gap it was cut for. The rope should cover the whole length of the space. Push the rope down into the space with the palms of your hands. Use a putty knife to tamp it down into the space until the surface of the rope is even with the surface of the floor. Repeat for each gap.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear rubber gloves when immersing the ropes in the stain.

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