Knowledge Center

Solid Plank Flooring - How Wide?

December 18, 2015

If you are considering solid plank flooring in your home or place of business, there are several factors to consider. What type of wood will you use? How will you finish it? How wide should the individual planks be? Wide plank flooring is a popular choice, and the only difference between it and other types of flooring is its width.

The Definition of Wide Plank Flooring

When you shop for different types of flooring, you might be amazed or even overwhelmed at all of the options available to you these days. Many people believe that wide plank flooring is different because of the grain, the type of wood that is used, or even the way the lumber is processed. None of this is the case. The only thing that separates wide plank flooring from other types of flooring is its width, which is generally anything wider than 4 ¼”. However, you are more likely to find it in 6” and 7” widths, particularly in oak engineered flooring.

Wide Plank Flooring - The Original Hardwood Floor

People often look for wide plank flooring because it gives an antique ambiance. Years and years ago, when sawmills first began processing lumber for flooring material, there was one major difference – the trees were larger. Loggers would chop down huge trees for the lumberyards, which would then cut them into wide planks that were often as long as 16’. In fact, back in the early days, the sawmills often left the planks in widths of 10” to 12” just to make them easier to install.

Today’s Wide Plank Flooring

These days, trees are not as wide as they once were. Due to over-logging and initiatives to save the world’s trees, loggers do not take trees as wide as they did 100 years ago. Because of this, wood inventories worldwide have decreased significantly, and the costs involved in manufacturing wood flooring have skyrocketed. This is why solid hardwood floors are so much more expensive now than they once were – and so much more difficult to come by, particularly in the wider styles.

The Downfalls of Wide Planks

Although wide plank flooring provides a beautiful atmosphere that is difficult to duplicate in any other way, this type of flooring comes with some drawbacks that you should consider before you install it. Solid wood flooring reacts to changes in humidity, and wide plank flooring does so more than any other type. It will expand and contract based on the humidity in the air, and the gaps between the planks become incredibly noticeable. What’s more, because there are fewer nails in wide plank flooring, the bowing and buckling is more difficult to prevent. To combat this, you will need to control the humidity in your home or place of business with careful precision.

Wide plank flooring is a beautiful way to update your home or office, but only if you take the time to truly understand the differences and prepare yourself for humidity control. Be sure to check with the manufacturer of the flooring you select to determine the right amount of humidity year-round as well as the proper installation method.

If you want to install wide plank flooring in your house we would definitely recommend an engineered wood flooring solution.