There’s no doubt that wide plank hardwood flooring — which features planks wider than 5” — is on the upswing. Wide planks provide many benefits that strip floors just don’t offer.
So, are wide planks right for you?
Before you invest in wide plank flooring for your project, go through the following list of wide plank characteristics to decide whether it would be a good fit in your home.
Wide planks evoke a rustic style
The rustic look is in right now, and wide plank floors certainly fit the bill.
Back when flooring was still hand-milled, carpenters generally did not cut lumber down into smaller strips, so wide plank floors were the norm. Today, wide plank floors are used to create a vintage look.
This isn’t to say, however, that wide plank floors only work well in rustic settings. They can make any room appear to have more depth and space. Single-width wide plank floors can even transform a space to make it look upscale and modern. But overall, wide plank flooring is ideal for achieving a vintage look.
Wide planks fluctuate more than strip floors
It’s important to know before you select a wide plank floor that due to their large surface area and tendency to be plain sawn, wide planks fluctuate more than strip floors in response to humidity and temperature changes. Luckily, there are several ways to enjoy wide planks while lowering the risk of humidity-related complications.
If you live in an area where the humidity fluctuates a lot throughout the year, you might want to select engineered wide plank floors because they are constructed to be more dimensionally stable than solid wood.
However, if you prefer the look and feel of solid wood, quarter sawn wide plank floors are a safe choice. Quarter sawn flooring is more dimensionally stable than plain sawn flooring.
If you live in an area where the humidity level fluctuates a lot but you don’t want to settle for engineered or quarter sawn wide plank flooring, it would be best to stick to narrow strip floors to avoid possible problems.
Wide planks are perfect for green home design
If you would like to be as “green” as possible in your project, reclaimed wide plank floors make an excellent choice. Reclaimed wide plank flooring is repurposed from old lumber sourced from barns, industrial buildings, and houses that have been torn down.
By choosing reclaimed floors, you’re doing the earth a favor by using recycled lumber instead of creating more demand for freshly cut trees. You’’re essentially using second-hand wood for your floors.
American chestnut is one species you can’t go wrong with in terms of eco-friendliness. Due to a blight affecting the species, chestnut trees are no longer harvested in the United States, so any American chestnut wide plank floors you buy are reclaimed by default.
The bottom line
Just as with anything else, wide plank hardwood floors have both pros and cons. They make a great choice for those who want to achieve a rustic look, or for people who want to make their building projects as eco-conscious as possible. But the fluctuations that wide plank floors experience in response to humidity changes can complicate the installation of wide planks in certain settings.