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How to Repair Gaps Between Floorboards


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Question: How to Repair Gaps Between Floorboards
I have old wood tongue-in-groove flooring. Over the years, gaps have formed between the floorboards. Is there any way to fix or fill in those gaps?
Answer: This is a common problem with older wood flooring that is not attached to a sub-floor. A sub-floor acts as a kind of "backing" to hold flooring in place (though minor gaps can still result). But tongue-and-groove flooring laid directly on joists will eventually develop gaps.

Unless your flooring is covered with carpeting, besides the aesthetic problems with gapping you may also notice that the floor feels drafty. This is normal airflow coming up from your basement or crawlspace.

You have two options (though I would not exactly call them "solutions"):
  1. Patching - Fill in the gaps with wood filler. Force in the filler as far as possible with a putty knife. Sand to the level of the flooring after the filler has hardened. This is not a great option. The surrounding floorboards will shift and eventually start to crack the filler.
  2. Wood Strips - Use your table saw to rip strips out of spare floorboards you might luckily have laying around. Apply glue to the sides of the strips and gently pound the strips into the gaps with a mallet or hammer. Plane or sand down high spots. Also not a perfect option, but better than the wood fill method.
Some remodeling guides recommend pulling up the floorboards and relaying them, closing up the gaps in the process. But if you have tongue-and-groove flooring, all you will accomplish is breaking off the tongues and destroying your floorboards.
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