Choosing Wide Plank Flooring – Getting the Right Wood For Your Home

Since wood floors comprise one of the Stained Concrete College Station visible areas in your home, they have a major impact on its look and feel. Choosing species and styles of wood that match your design and lifestyle preferences will ensure a harmonious relationship with your plank floors and a lifetime of enjoyment. Solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished many times; they will last longer than you will, so keep in mind that the floors you choose today will likely be beautifying your home for generations to come.

Plank Flooring Widths and Lengths

The term wide plank flooring refers to solid, usually unfinished, wood flooring greater than 3 inches in width. Most wide plank flooring is between 3″ and 20″ in width and is sold in random widths (a random amount of three or more different widths).  In the old days, people used the entire log or resource that was available to them, so floors in old homes have planks of several different widths, known as random widths. Single width floors, a more recent invention, are also available, although there is often a surcharge for single width orders or repeating pattern orders as this requires the manufacturer to do more sorting of the product. 

Installing a random width floor is no more difficult than installing all one width or a repeating pattern. The floor will consist of three or more widths in varying amounts. You will receive a tally sheet with your order telling how much lineal and square footage you have in each width of your order. The widths that have the most lineal footage will repeat more often than those with less lineal footage. For example, an order with mostly 4″ widths but some 5″ and 6″ widths may go like this: 4, 5, 4, 6, 5, 4, 6, 4, 5, 6, 5, 4 with the 4″ repeating most often, but randomly. The tally sheet tells you how many times each width should repeat across a given length of a room.

Wide plank flooring lengths vary greatly by manufacturer. Higher end wide plank flooring comes in longer lengths, often 8 to 16 feet long, and is sawn full length straight off the log.   Longer planks mean that there will be fewer end and edge seams, or transitions, on your floor, creating a clean visual line. Because longer planks were common in early America, traditional and antique homeowners often prefer long planks for their historic appeal. Lower end wide plank flooring, made by cutting around defects in milled boards, comes in lengths as short as one foot. The abundance of shorter boards creates a busy or patchwork effect.

All wood floors develop wear marks over time. This is part of the charm of wood. Some people prefer softer woods because they develop a patina more quickly. For example, wide plank pine is very popular among traditional and historic homeowners because it soon develops an “aged” feel. Others do not find wear charming, and they tend to choose harder woods such as Oak, Hickory, Maple, and Ash. Depending on your tolerance for wear, you may want to factor species hardness into your flooring decision. One way of comparing the hardness of various woods is the Janka hardness scale, which measures the force required to push a tiny steel ball into a piece of wood. The higher the Janka number, the harder the wood. Janka numbers for wood species are available online. Though your floor is unlikely to ever experience the kind of pressure exerted for the Janka scale, hardness numbers can give you an idea of the general toughness of the various wood species.

Where Will the Floor Go in Your Home?

Where you plan to place the floor in your home may make all the difference in your wood selection. Depending on your tolerance, a harder wood may be a better choice for a high-traffic area, while a lower-traffic area such as a bedroom may be the best place for a softer wood. Placing area rugs over your wood floor in high-traffic areas will also help reduce wear. Of course, wide plank flooring can always be refinished to remove scuff marks, if desired. The beauty of solid wood floors is that they can be sanded and refinished many times and still have a lifetime of wear left in them.

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