Wide Plank Flooring:
Wide plank wood flooring is the name given to a traditional strip
flooring that is typically over 3 1/4" in width. Contrary
to public opinion, there is nothing special about it other then
its wider width. Most often you find it in 4" and 5"
widths for traditional hardwoods like solid red oak plank flooring,
and as wide as 8 or 10" for reclaimed pine wood flooring.
It does create a wonderful ambiance, harking back to years gone
by, when all floors were wide plank. Floors were hard to find
in any other fashion. Trees were larger. Sawyers left the wood
planks in 10" and 12" widths to make the installer's
job a little easier. Boards were often 14 and 16 feet long.
So what has changed today?
The obvious change has been in the lumber supply. I certainly
don't need to tell any readers that the log dimensions are significantly
smaller today than 30 years ago. That has led to reduced inventories
and increased costs to create a wide plank flooring.
But more important that this, has been the shift in house construction
standards. If you visited a local museum with old wide timber
floors the first thing you'll notice is the gapping between boards.
Do you care? Of course not, but what if this was your home?
As a general rule, customers do not want to see any gaps between
the individual strips of hardwood. But wood lives and breaths.
As the house changes in humidity, dry or wet, so does the wood
Wide plank wood flooring will react significantly more per
board, than a narrower cousin. To make the matter worse a
wide plank flooring has less nails holding it in place. As seasonal
fluctuations move the humidity up and down your floor reacts.
In moist seasons wide planks will cup, popping the nails and
leave a floor uneven. In dry seasons they will shrink and leave
obvious between-board gaps.
3" Standard Hardwood Floor
6" Wide Wood Plank Floor
So What's the Solution:
- Regulate your humidity year round to move in a narrower band.
For Northern Ontario this would realistically be between 35
and 55% relative humidity.
- If you can't regulate your humidity, consider a narrower floor
option. Wide plank flooring is not for you... at least if you
want to install it without problems.
- Look at some alternate types of construction. Consider a plywood
based wide plank engineered flooring. The plywood offers greater
dimensional stability. ... but this doesn't get you off the
hook for regulating the humidity. Engineered floors still expand
and contract, just less easily than their solid cousin.
- With a wide plank engineered flooring consider a glue down
application. This will offer you 100% adhesion to the base floor,
not just one nail every 6".
- Consider using an hardwood wide plank floating floors. If
it is a well made product, with a good interlocking joint, it
will move as a unit if adequate expansion space has been left
around the perimeter.
Thus if you are going to consider a wide plank wood floor, I'd
check out a few of the flooring options online and inquire about
the recommended installation methods and the band of humidity
fluctuations that any one particular flooring brand is able to
tolerate without usability issues popping their ugly head.
Solid wide plank flooring is not for every house.
Installation:Solid hardwood flooring, either standard
strip or wide plank flooring can only be installed by nailing
it down to a wooden subfloor. See our section for Hardwood
Floor Installation Tips