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I need to replace some of my red oak flooring.

32 planks of my red oak flooring take up exactly 65 inches.

Is the wood really 2 and 1/32th inches wide? Or are you supposed to leave a little bit of gap to allow for expansion?

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  • The gap you are supposed to leave for expansion in wood floors is about 3/4" around the edge against the wall, where it can be hidden by trim.
    – bowlturner
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 19:47

1 Answer 1

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are you supposed to leave a little bit of gap to allow for expansion?

As indicated above in the Comment by @bowlturner the expansion gap for flooring is normally left around the perimeter1. I mean we don't commonly see any gaps between current floorboards do we?2 The expansion allowance is hidden from view under the skirting boards which is why we tend to be unaware of it.

Is the wood really 2 and 1/32th inches wide?

Only you can answer that because you have the boards in front of you. Typically with hardwoods however their measurements are actual, not nominal — if unsurfaced — and should be reasonably accurate. The only way to be sure of the size(s) you're dealing with is by measuring your wood. Don't just measure one board and assume they're all the same, measure a bunch of them to check if they're uniform.

Before installation, acclimation
Since you may not have read this elsewhere given the nature of the Question, it's very important to let the new wood acclimate to your home environment — ideally in the room it will be placed in — for at least a week (bare minimum) but if at all possible longer than that.

The boards should be stacked not touching side to side, and each layer separated. Sometimes this is done by cross-stacking but it's better to use 'stickers'.

Read more in the following link, Acclimating a Hardwood Floor (no endorsement, just the first informative link that a Google search brought up).


1 Note that it is far, far more important to leave enough gap at the edges (alongside the long grain) than at the ends where the end grain is because wood barely expands/contracts lengthwise. Boards primarily expand and contract through the seasons across their width, especially when the wood is flat-sawn.

2 If there are visible gaps between your floorboards I think it would be important to match them in the newly laid wood, unless you plan to re-lay the whole floor in a space.

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