We installed new tongue and groove engineered 5/8" hardwood flooring in our kitchen this spring. I was hesitant because I didn't know how the wood would hold up in a kitchen, but we were going for a rustic look. The flooring guy at Home Depot said the hardwood would hold up just as well or better than the laminate options and we liked the look alot more. As far as I know, we did everything right. We replaced almost all of the plywood subfloor and even some of the floor boards. We bought a hardwood floor nailer and air compressor and nailed them hard and tight against each other. We also left 1/2" gap around the perimeter.

I know that hardwood expands and contracts, but that's not what this is. We had a hard time eliminating the gaps during installation because the tongue and groove didn't want to fit together very well. We spent a lot of time getting each piece to fit well. We have gone through spring, summer and now into fall and the gaps still remain. I would say it wasn't even a month after installing that we started noticing the gaps getting wider. Now you can see where dirt falls through the cracks.

My questions are can this be fixed and how - and how do you clean the floor without moisture damage to the floor and subfloor? Even though it was prefinished should we go over it with some kind of sealer? Even then I don't think the gaps would be sealed. We are completely depressed because we spent a lot of time getting it perfect. To add insult to injury, anything and everything seems to dent the floor. Of course, when we moved the fridge back it left huge gouges in the wood, even with furniture sliders and cardboard. It did not penetrate the finish but the gouges are deep. Is there any way to repair these? I think it would look too obvious to use wood filler. Should I try to find some kind of poly that would fill the gouges and still somewhat match the finish? I did hear that moisture, a towel and a hot iron might raise up the wood fibers, but it didn't seem to work on the sample piece I tried. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Also, the planks are solid wood with a cherry walnut type pre-finish.