Are expansion joints essential around the edges of a floor?

Yes. An expansion joint is a gap around the whole room. It should be 1.5 mm per linear metre of flooring width, with a minimum of 8 mm. The flooring should not come into contact with objects such as heating pipes, other floor coverings, thresholds, stairs or fireplaces. You should also cut round the bottoms of doorframes to a depth of 1 cm.

This gap allows the floor to expand and contract as it beds in.

Use a slightly bigger gap in kitchens and bathrooms where the atmosphere will be more humid, and fill it with a silicone filler unless it is covered by a skirting board. It is important to prevent water from getting underneath the floor.

The direction in which you lay the floor will depend on the size of the room. You may need a separate join between rooms.