Floorboard gaps: what’s the problem?

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Why have I got gaps? Floorboards are planks of wood. Wood contains moisture. The level of this moisture depends on the moisture in the air above and below the floor. This will vary depending on the season: higher in summer, lower in winter when the heating is on. Your floorboards will expand with more moisture content and be wider in summer, shrink and be narrower in winter. So, wider gaps between the boards in winter, just what we do not want.

How big is the problem? A small gap here and there won’t break the bank but floorboard gaps add up: an average room has 80 to 100 metres of gaps, if laid end to end. Enough to reach the corner shop. In total these tiny gaps add up to an area of 50 x 50 centimetres: 3 square feet. That’s the same as an open window. What about the tiny spaces between floor and skirting boards? – also present in carpeted rooms – these can total 20 x 20 centimetres per room: the equivalent of yet more open windows. You would normally close open windows in the winter. How to close your gaps?

Does it matter? Draughty gaps will have a dramatic effect on the energy used to heat your home* If you burn wood for heat and have unlimited access to woodland then fuel bills may not trouble you too much but terminally cold feet from freezing floor level air currents may still be a problem. For the rest of us, rising energy bills are a fact of life to be addressed. Keeping your living room at a comfortable temperature can consume a quarter of your total energy use – the  average yearly energy bill is now over £1300 – so around £325 goes to keep you comfy as you relax. Draughty gaps as described above could be costing half of this figure, year after year.

Draughts in buildings are particularly wasteful of energy because they not only allow heated air to escape, but also make the occupants of the building feel cold. Occupants of draughty buildings often turn up thermostats to compensate for this discomfort, which wastes even more energy, and the problem can grow into a vicious circle.

Extract from English Heritage Guide – Energy Efficiency and Historic Buildings: Insulation of suspended timber floors

What can be done? StopGap is a one-size-fits-all way of sealing irregular gaps between your boards. It has been designed to be simple to fit, inexpensive, and to take day-to-day changes of temperature and humidity in its stride. StopGap could easily pay for itself in less than one heating season and go on saving you increasing amounts of money year after year after year.