Wide Plank Installation

2-1/4″ planks were once the standard in residential hardwood flooring, but planks that are 5 inches wide and above are popping up all over residential and commercial settings alike. You’ll find that the installation process is a bit different from working with floors under 5 inches wide.

Wide plank floors are growing in popularity, so you should be prepared to perform this type of installation.

In case you get a request to install wide plank flooring for a client and you’re worried about the differences between wide planks and thinner planks, we’ve compiled some tips.

The installation process

It is especially important to ensure fasten the planks correctly when installing wide plank floors. Plain sawn wide plank floors are more prone to moving in response to relative humidity changes, so you have to be extra careful when installing this type of flooring. Fastening these floors securely often
Fastening a Click Lock Floorentails using adhesive in addition to nails, even if you’re installing a solid wide plank floor.

When installing solid wide plank floors over a plywood subfloor, the best method is to apply adhesive to the floorboards, blind nail the length of the boards with a pneumatic nailer, and face nail when you reach the end of a board.

Make sure to leave a 1/4″ gap between the floorboards and end walls to allow for seasonal dimensional growth so the wood can expand without cupping.

When installing solid wide plank over a concrete slab, only adhesive is used to secure the flooring. It will benefit you to use an adhesive that has a moisture vapor barrier incorporated into the formulation, to keep out any moisture that will seep through the concrete.

Always be aware of the species and milling of the plank floor so you can avoid potential problems. For example, plain sawn hickory is a lot less stable than a quarter sawn American cherry, so it would be better to install cherry in an environment that is subject to significant fluctuations in humidity throughout the year.

Acclimation and moisture measurements

With wide plank flooring, acclimation and moisture measurements are especially important to perform correctly because wide planks are more prone to noticeable cupping and gapping than thinner planks.

Make sure to take accurate readings of the moisture content in the floor planks and subfloor to ensure that conditions are ideal for installation.
HumidityRelative humidity in the room should be between 35 and 55 percent, with the year average of 50 percent usually being the ideal level of moisture in the air.

If you install wide planks when the moisture content and relative humidity levels aren’t right, you’ll be in for a cupping-gapping-squeaking call back.

Installing wide planks in humid areas? Yes, it can be done. In these situations, it’s often necessary to peg the floors to prevent cupping. Make sure that your subfloor is able to handle the extra moisture. A problematic subfloor will lead to a problem in the floor itself down the road. Most adhesive companies require a relative humidity level of the concrete slab of 85%. Be sure to learn the newest method (Insitu) for measuring relative humidity.

Just as with thinner flooring, you run a risk installing solid wide plank floors in below-grade environments, like basements and garages. But you can safely install engineered wide plank floors in below-grade environments.

Educating your clients about their wide plank floors

As with all things, education is the key to preventing problems down the line. Although your client may have really wanted wide plank floors installed in their home, they may not understand the possible complications involved with this type of flooring.

Education should be a constant process. Before, during, and after the installation, let your clients know how to care for their floors, and what to expect a few months down the line.

Let them know that wide plank flooring is more prone to movement than thinner floors, and that they might experience noticeable gapping during the colder months, particularly in areas where forced hot air heating systems are commonplace. Educate them about proper relative humidity levels, and the steps they can take to maintain the optimal level of moisture content in their home.

It would a good idea to see your clients off with a floor care guide tailored specifically with information about wide plank floors. Read more about crafting the perfect floor care guides for your clients.

Conclusion

Installing wide plank floors might seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. But if you arrive at the jobsite prepared with this knowledge and you perform to the best of your abilities, you’ll end up with a fantastic wide plank installation to make you proud for years to come.

Posted In: Resources

10 thoughts on “Tips for Installing Wide Plank Flooring

  1. Roger Middleton

    My wife and I have been wanting to get hardwood floor put in our home to remove all of the carpet that we currently have. I liked that you had mentioned that it takes very precise measurements to avoid possible problems with the install. We might have to start looking for a professional that can handle the installation of the hardwood floor for us since I don’t really trust my own measuring.

    Reply
  2. Jeremy Thompson

    I was thinking about having some hardwood installed in our new home construction. The idea of using a wide plank as it’s growing in popularity even though it might be a tad different in installing compared to the thinner planks as your article had mentioned is quite nice. Having a professional do this for me would be much more of my style as it would take most or all of the hard labor from me. Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Kayla

    Our house is around fifty years old already and the flooring is in a bad shape now. My dad suggested hiring contractors for wood flooring and shared this article with us at home. It says here that there are wood flooring that requires using adhesive only.

    Reply
  4. J. Fillion

    Hello. Thank you for this information. I’m considering the installation of a 5″ solid hickory flooring on plywood. The installation location is in New England. In your section above it would indicate I should put adhesive on the planks. I’ve seen this on the installation guide for multiple manufacturers for boards wider than 4″. In your photo above it looks like someone is doing an installation using a vapor retarder. I’m assuming that adhesive is not being used in that photo. Is that correct? When doing an installation with adhesive on the back side of the planks, how does one protect against moisture migration?

    Reply
  5. Derek Dewitt

    My wife and I want to install wood floors in our living room this year, so thanks for sharing these tips. I like your point about making sure the moisture content of the planks are ideal first. We’ll be sure to give the planks time to acclimate to the area so we don’t risk gaps in between the boards.

    Reply
  6. Riverbend Interiors

    I am wondering to install Wide Plank Flooring in my house. Thanks for sharing such a great tips that how to Install Wide Plank Flooring. It is really helpful. I just loved it. keep up the work.

    Reply
  7. Gary Puntman

    I didn’t know that wide planks are more prone to cupping and gapping. It’s probably important to take this into consideration when installing it. It’s important to make sure your measurements are accurate and that you account for any movement.

    Reply
  8. Gillian Babcock

    My dad wanted to have good flooring for our home because the current one was damaged by water. It was explained here that the installation process should be good and uses adhesive boards. Moreover, it’s recommended to hire professionals when considering installing residential flooring.

    Reply
  9. Sam Li

    I like what you said about applying adhesive to the floorboards being the best method to utilize. Flooring installation is a job that requires the expertise of trained professionals with sufficient experience. I want to install hardwood in my kitchen, so I’ll hire a company that can provide efficient service.

    Reply
  10. Taylor Bishop

    Thanks for this advice for installing wide plank flooring. I actually didn’t know that it’s important to check the moisture content in the floor planks and the subfloor. I’m kind of interested to learn if you should wait to install the flooring if the reading is too high or low in some way.

    Reply

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