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Do Vinyl Floors Expand and Contract? (Explained)

The new trend of flooring is definitely vinyl plank floors. This system of flooring gives the room a good and classy lift to it. The highly engineered floor type is a bit difficult to maintain, but worth the maintenance.

It is very common for the temperature sensitive flooring to react to the changing environment of the house. The temperature of the house can make the floors expand or shrink depending on the heat and cold. However, this problem is not permanent.

Do vinyl floors expand and contract?

Naturally, vinyl flooring expands and contracts with heat and cold. The expansion and contraction are very normal with the change in temperature. It is best to leave small gaps from quarter to an inch to half an inch to avoid buckling and breakage during the hot months.

Vinyl floors change their size ever so slightly as the temperature changes. This is very natural and interior planners tend to keep it in mind while designing.

There is no need to leave too much space between, the floor may seem loose. And no space at all will make the flooring break and buckle.

How much will vinyl flooring expand and contract?

There is no accurate size for the expansion and contraction as it is ever so slight. Most of the floors have gaps between to avoid buckling and clashing. The gaps are around 1/4″ quarter of an inch) to 1/2″ (half of an inch).

As temperature increases, it is natural for vinyl floors to expand. Similarly, during colder times the floors contract a bit from their initial size. This is very common which is why there are very little gaps left while flooring.

Why does vinyl plank flooring expand and contract?

Expansion and contraction is very common when it comes to vinyl floors. The temperature is a very obvious and common reason for the change in size. The more precise reasons for the changes might be –


Too much heat inside the house can cause the planks of the vinyl floors to expand by half inches. The heat can be due to the temperature or the heating of the house.

It can also be if there is any equipment that releases hot air always. That particular plank of the flooring can expand a bit. Make sure to check properly and from time to time.

Direct Sunlight

If any part of your house floor is exposed to the sunlight, then the warmth of it can make the floor planks expand. This is very common for areas around the window and doors. The warmth of the sun rays can make the floor planks grow. Try to check the floorings near the windows.

Low Temperature

Just as heat makes the floorings expand, the cold temperature makes the planks shrink and contract by half an inch. The cold months tend to make the floors loose if you have too much gap in the planks.


If the vinyl floor planks are not acclimated with the humidity of the room, the planks can shrink a little bit. This is a common problem for newly installed vinyl plank floors.

Plastic Layer of the vinyl floor

Sometimes, the top layer of the vinyl floor will curl up a little bit. This does not mean the entire plank is shrinking or anything. It just means the top layer might not be properly placed or acclimated.

The main reason why the vinyl floor might shrink or expand is the cold and hot temperature. Try to keep gaps between the planks. Also, if possible, keep the heating and temperature of the house to a moderate level most of the time.

Does vinyl plank flooring settle over time?

Vinyl plank floors do tend to expand and shrink with the changing temperature. But it is not forever. After some time the floor planks settle. With time the vinyl plank floors tend to fit just perfectly.

You will have to acclimate the floor planks to the temperature of the room for a while though.

There is a guarantee that the vinyl floors fit impeccably. For this you should leave the boards on the floor to adjust to stickiness levels and room temperature. This is on the grounds that vinyl board flooring will in general expand in high mugginess and psychologist in low moistness.

Vinyl floors naturally tend to expand and contract with the temperature and humidity. Give the floor planks time to adjust and acclimate with the house temperature and the contraction and expansion will eventually stop with time.

Do you need an expansion gap for vinyl flooring?

Vinyl floors are known to be climate and temperature sensitive floors. The floor planks of a vinyl floor tend to change with the temperature and humidity. This is why you should always keep an expansion gap between the floor planks.

As a result of the vinyl ground surface’s temperature sensitivity and its reaction, make sure to leave about a ¼-inch gap around the edges of your floor. Along these lines if the deck extends it will have the space to do as such and it will not twist or lock in the center

It is best to keep gaps of quarter (1/4″) to half(1/2″) an inch when installing vinyl floors to avoid any problems when the floors expand due to heat. Try not to make the gaps too big, as when the floors shrink the floor will look loose and not good.

What happens if an expansion gap is not left?

It is crucial for vinyl floors to have expansion gaps as they tend to expand in hot temperature and high humidity.

If there is no expansion gap, the floors might break or cause cracks between the planks. To maintain an expansion gap is one of the basic rules while installing vinyl floor planks.

If there is no gap between the floor plank of the vinyl floor for expansion the planks may wrap and rise up. This will cause the planks to break or clash into each other. This is not a desirable outcome as it is risky and may cause accidents. Not to mention, it does not look good.

Use flooring spacers to maintain the perfect and equal amount of spacing between the planks. The gaps do not need to be too big. The perfect sized gaps are hardly noticeable, so you do not have to worry about your floor looking loose.

Why is my vinyl plank flooring separating?

Separating vinyl plank flooring is a common problem and the main reason behind it can be the weather or the temperature. The floor planks can seem enlarged or compressed depending on how hot or cold the rooms’ temperature is.

If your vinyl plank floors tend to expand and shrink almost regularly, the floor can get separated and the damage can be permanent. Try to keep the room temperature at a moderate level and give the plank floors time to acclimate to the environment of the room to avoid this problem. 

How to fix vinyl plank flooring separating?

If you find your vinyl floor separating, it may be because of the too frequent temperature change or the constant expansion and compression of the planks. This problem is not unfixable. There are some easy hacks to fix a separated vinyl plank flooring-

  • Glue the floor planks leaving an expansion gap up to half an inch or quarter to an inch;
  • Apply vinyl putty between the gaps;
  • You can use a caulking method to fix the problem. Make sure the gaps are clean and dry before you apply new caulk;
  • If the separation is new and not too much, you can just place the floors in place with your foot. A slight push will do the job.

Try to fix the separated floor plank as soon as you notice. Do not let the damage stay long. Otherwise it might get unfixable.

What are the disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring?

Vinyl floors look amazing and give the whole interior a classy lift. Yet, the floor type is sometimes avoided by some interior designers. The reason behind this might be-


The floor planks cannot be replaced once installed.

Volatile Organic Compound issues

There is no emission of Volatile Organic Compound from the floor.


The flooring has a shorter life span than any other floor types.

Resale Value

When it comes to resale, the floor adds no value to the monetary amount of the house.


If adhesive is used to install the floor planks, it cannot be removed at all.


The floorboard cannot be recycled, which is not eco friendly.

These are the reasons why the vinyl floor type is avoided by many people and specialists.

Vinyl plank floorings are very classy when it comes to the looks of it. However, they can be a bit difficult to maintain. As the flooring is sensitive to temperature and weather. It is best to be very sure and aware of all the factors before installing the vinyl plank flooring.