The Subduction Zone in my Floor


There’s a bit of a mystery happening at my house, which has something of a geologic flavour. Over a year ago, you may remember that we replaced the carpet with vinyl wood-finished flooring in our living and dining room. While this flooring was tricky to lay down, I swear to you that when we were finished, the panels all clicked together smoothly.

Well, early this past winter, I noticed that two of the vinyl strips had pulled apart, leaving about a gap of about an eighth of an inch. Shrinkage, I thought, as this was during the height of the polar vortex. Possibly the two planks would come back together when the temperatures heated up. But they didn’t. The gap grew to a quarter of an inch wide. So, I responded by plunking down wood filler.

Well, not only did that not look very good, it didn’t work. Cracks appeared in the wood filler as the vinyl strips pulled further apart. More wood filler, more pulling apart. About a month ago, my father took me aside and said, “I notice you’ve been trying to fill gaps with wood filler. Look, you still have some of those vinyl flooring strips in your basement. Clean out the wood filler, measure the gap, cut off a piece, fit it in, and put a small amount of wood filler around it.

So I did. And, I had to admit, the floor looked much better. Everything lined up.

Until cracks appeared in the wood filler again.

To be clear, the whole floor is not breaking apart. We’re talking about two six-inch strips of vinyl flooring on a floor that is at least ten feet wide. No other strips are behaving in the same fashion. These two strips are blocked on one side by a bannister. And yet gap I’m trying to fill is now an inch wide. Continuing along the line, the vinyl flooring disappears beneath the dining room bookcase, and (I think) abuts the common wall that I share with my neighbour.

I am flummoxed. Where is this flooring disappearing to? Is there a subduction zone that’s absorbing the flooring at my wall and returning the molten vinyl to the crust? Or am I going to have to talk to my neighbour in the near future about the vinyl flooring that’s suddenly sticking out from under his wall?

Suggestions welcome.

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