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What Is a Flooring Clamp?

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  • Written By: M. McGee
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A flooring clamp is a device that is used to install hardwood floors. A hardwood floor is made up of several long, thin strips of wood, called slats, which should be as close to one another as possible. Even high-quality flooring will have slight irregularities in the cut or warping due to environmental, storage or transport conditions. To eliminate the gaps caused by these problems, a flooring clamp will hold sections of slats together as tightly as physically possible. These devices typically use a ratcheting system to secure the boards, but some newer models have an electric motor instead.

When a hardwood floor is properly installed, it shouldn’t be possible to slip even a piece of paper between the boards. While this does have an aesthetic advantage, the reasoning goes far beyond appearance. From a use perspective, the floor has fewer places to collect dirt, food particles and other household refuse. This keeps the house and floor cleaner with less work, as well as prevents the growth of mold.

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Those reasons aside, a properly installed floor lasts significantly longer than one with gaps. On the fast-acting side, physical particles can get in between boards and force one out of alignment. This will put pressure on other boards until there are several out of place or one begins to pop up from the floor. In the long term, these gaps will allow water and mold into the boards; this will create warping, rot and, if the floor is on a cement foundation, sometimes make the boards come loose.

In order to make sure the boards fit together as tight as possible, builders use a flooring clamp. This device will collect a group of floorboards into a single grouping and hold them very tight. Since these boards are often very long, it is uncommon for someone to only use one flooring clamp. Generally, there is one clamp near one end and another at the other. For exceptionally long floorboards, additional clamps hold the middle of the boards.

In many cases, the wood used to make a hardwood floor compresses easily when pressed from the side. In order to avoid damaging the floor, and to maximize the efficiency of the clamp, a spacer is placed between the clamp and the boards. This spacer is often another piece of wood, but not a piece of the floor. This will cushion the direct force caused by the clamp, placing impression or tool marks on the spacer rather than the floor itself. In addition, this spreads the pressure created by the flooring clamp out over a larger area.

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