How to Use Wood Floor Fillers

How to use wood floor fillersWood floors usually develop some gaps and cracks in between the boards with time and this is totally normal and a result of wear and tear and everyday use. Despite the fact that these little gaps usually don’t hide serious risks for the structural integrity of the floor and its condition, they can be quite annoying and affect the appearance of the floor, make it look older, tired, and sad. This is definitely a look you are not going for with your favourite wooden floor, right?

In addition to spoiling the appearance of your floor, these small gaps also spoil its insulation by letting drafts of cold air from outside to pass through the floor in wintertime and reducing the efficiency of your heating system. In addition, the drafts of air passing through the floor additionally increase the risk of new gaps occurring and the old ones getting wider. Because of that, you definitely want to deal with the gaps as soon as possible and make sure to get rid of them. The good news is that getting rid of these gaps is a fairly easy thing and you can even DIY it as you don’t need professional help for that.

Now, DIY gap filling is definitely a project appropriate for small and hardly noticeable gaps. The wider and bigger the gaps are, the more you are going to need professional help as the problem may get serious and require an experienced and knowledgeable approach. However, if the gaps are insignificant, dealing with them on your own is easy, inexpensive, and fast. All you need to do is using a filler that will help you fill the gaps and cracks in and keep the durability and sturdiness of the floor intact. However, before you go down on your knees and start working on these small gaps, first make sure these are not actually expansion gaps.

Expansion gaps are very important and they serve a very specific purpose. Expansion gaps are left during the installation process and normally between the floorboards and the walls along the whole perimeter of the room. They are important because they allow the contraction and expansion of the floorboards due to the impact of moisture and temperature fluctuations by allowing extra room and preventing the floorboards from getting damaged, distressed, from breaking. Expansion gaps are usually covered with baseboards or skirting boards. They are a very important part of the sturdiness of the floor and expansion gaps should not be filled with a filler.

However, if you are dealing with gaps that are not left for the expansion of the floor, a simple filler should sort out the problem. Fillers, as the name suggests, are products that are used for filling in the wood flooring gaps and little cracks. Filler range from off-the-shelf products you can buy from most stores to thin slivers or shims of wood or pieces of wood that are usually used for wider gaps that are recommended to be handled by professionals. Both methods are really effective in stopping the drafts of air from chilling the room and ensuring the sleek appearance of the floor.

Different Types of Fillers

Off-the-shelf wood floor gap fillers are available in many different options, the most popular of them being made out of latex compounds, putty foam, lacquer-based and an epoxy two-part system. The choice of the filler you are going to use is pretty much determined by the type of floor and also your level of expertise and experience of working with such products.

  • Latex fillers remain among the most popular and commonly chosen filler options out there. Latex fillers are mainly popular because of their sustainability and the fact they are easy to apply and work with, also very quick to sand. Putty fillers are also a common choice among DIY enthusiasts.
  • Putty fillers are also easy to use and work with because they dry slowly and allow you to work with them even if you don’t have particular experience in working with this type of products. Putty fillers are normally used for small gaps and it is best to use this solution before finishing the floor with a lacquer or varnish.
  • Lacquer based fillers are pretty much lacquer mixed with sawdust. During manufacturing and other processes with a wood floor that produces fine sawdust, the finest wood dust is collected and then mixed with lacquer to make a paste which is later used for filling in the gaps and cracks between the floorboards. This solution dries really fast but it has a very strong smell. The advantage of this method of gap filling is that you can easily use the sawdust produced during the sanding of your own floor, which will ensure a perfect colour match and the areas where the filler is used won’t stand out.
  • Epoxy fillers are a blend of two substances you will find in two different containers when purchasing this type of filler. Both substances should be mixed right before you use and apply them. To reduce the waste of the product, mix just a small amount of the two substances before application. Epoxy fillers dry very fast.

How to Apply the Filler

Different types of wood fillersNo matter what type of gap filling technique you are going to select, all types of fillers are applied in a similar manner. Before you apply the filler solution, make sure that all gaps are free of dust and dirt. Thoroughly clean the areas and pay close attention to removing all the dirt that could be accumulated in the gaps and cracks of the floor. Once all the dust and dirt are completely removed, you can continue with the application of the filler.

Depending on the type of filler product you are working with, you can apply the product with a finger or use a putty knife. Once you apply the filler, make sure to leave it to dry completely by following the manufacturers' instructions and checking the drying time of the different types of gap fillers. If necessary and if the filled gap area stands out a lot, you can slightly sand the area by hand and even stain it to ensure an even and uniform look of the entire surface of the floor.