There’s a catchy insurance company slogan that you may have heard in their commercials, urging you to “know the gaps.” That’s because “gaps” are important to know, not only with insurance coverage, but also when installing a floating LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) or LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) floor, as well.

Floating floors are never glued down

Floating floors, like the kind available in NovaFloor® Lyndon™, Casa™, or NovaCore™ are designed to be locked together by means of a male/female profile along the edges of the plank or tile that will “clic” together to make a secure connection. Novalis uses their NovaClic® locking system to accomplish this. Floating floors are designed to freely move in the room as a whole and should never be glued down or nailed to the subfloor. Also, any permanent fixtures like cabinets, wood stoves, or fixed appliances should never be installed on top of and through a floating vinyl floor.

Expansion and contraction is a fact of life

Luxury vinyl tiles and planks are made of … vinyl! Vinyl is susceptible to temperature changes in its ambient environment which will cause the vinyl flooring to expand and contract with normal hot and cold fluctuations. When installing floating vinyl floors it is necessary to allow for this expansion by leaving a gap around the perimeter of the floor or anywhere it meets another floor or vertical surface.

Factors that can cause problems

Maintaining a controlled indoor environment is not only pleasant for you, it’s nice for your floor, as well. Extreme shifts in temperature can play havoc on a floating floor; but even in the best of HVAC conditions, floors will react to even subtle changes over time. Always be sure to keep the installed environment temperatures consistently between 65°F and 80°F. Also be sure to keep any radiant (in-floor) heating systems to a temperature that will not heat the floor above 85°F. Areas with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight should have suitable window coverings to lessen the amount of generated heat that will be exposed on the floor, especially during peak sun hours.

Why gaps are important

We usually think of gaps as a bad thing. But when properly used, expansion gaps can relieve the pressure from heat expansion that can affect a floating floor before it meets an immovable, vertical obstruction like a wall, a doorpost, an installed cabinet, or a supporting column. Such close encounters between the floor and a wall, for example, can result in a noticeable and unsightly buckling or peaked appearance. To avoid this, Jim Kups, North American Technical Manager for Novalis Innovative Flooring, recommends maintaining uniform “expansion gaps” around the perimeter of the floor or at any vertical obstruction when installing.

What does an expansion gap look like?

Gaps are usually 5/16” between the outside edge of the floor (the perimeter) and the obstruction (see featured image). The gap is always hidden by a piece of trim molding, like a quarter-round or a transition. Against metal doorframes and areas where you cannot install a molding, use a color-coordinated silicone caulk to fill the gap and allow the floor to expand into the gap when necessary. Always check the installation instructions that are included with the flooring or available online under http://novafloor.us/tech-info/ for specific guidance for your particular NovaFloor product.