Hardwood floors can come in planks of many different widths. For a very long time, most planks were less than six inches wide. They generally range from about three to about six inches wide. Now, a trend has emerged of wider planks. Anything over six inches is generally considered a wide flooring plank. There are many different reasons for the emergence of the trend; the basic reason is obviously aesthetics.
Wide Planks in History
Before machines were used to cut and engineer the hardwood floor planks, they were cut and planed by hand. That meant that using skinny planks would require a craftsman to cut and plane hundreds of planks of wood. If they used wide planks, however, they could cover the floor with fewer planks of wood. It reduced the amount of work for them. Therefore, many antique homes and cabins have wide plank floors. They’re also used in the walls and floors of old barns. Barn wood has been at the forefront of the reclaimed wood trend.
So, if you’re using antique wood or if you’re trying to make your floor look like the floor of an antique home, you’re likely dealing with wide planks. That is how the wide plank flooring trend took hold.
Wide flooring planks come with a few considerations. Wooden floors absorb heat and moisture over time. That can cause the wood to warp; typically, that means it will cup. The sides will raise to form a cupped shape. This is more common with wide planks than it is with skinny planks. You can avoid this in a few ways. For one, engineered hardwood is less likely to cup than solid hardwood; so, if you want wide planks, the easiest way is to choose engineered hardwood floors.
Also, you can avoid putting hardwood in a basement or anywhere that is warm and humid. Also, you need to be vigilant about cleaning up any spills or waterproofing your home. Finally, wide planks are somewhat more difficult to replace. They’re not quite as common as thinner planks; also, the wood will have more of the grain showing. Therefore, if you want a board to match, it can be difficult to find one in the right color and grain pattern. However, the floors of antique homes and cabins rarely matched as well as modern floors anyway. That means that your floor might look even more authentic if it cups or if the planks don’t quite line up.