For a while, it seemed like live edge wood trend was going to fade away. The concept is simple. Typically, when wood is milled, it is cut into planks. The planks are then squared off so that it forms a perfect rectangle. Live edge wood is different. It is cut into planks but the edges are left untouched. That leaves you with a smooth plank of wood with irregular edges that basically create the outline of the original tree. Live edge was first very popular for coffee tables, shelves, and cutting boards. However, it has grown in popularity, and new innovations have made it for very popular for flooring.
Live Edge Hardwood Flooring
Typically, hardwood floors are made using tongue and groove connections so that each hardwood plank fits flush to the next one. That creates a smooth floor. Obviously, that’s not possible with live edge flooring. Instead, the planks are typically laid as close to one another as possible. They’re then affixed to the subfloor. There are two basic ways to affix the wood to the subfloor. It can be top-nailed or blind-nailed. Top-nailing is simply nailing through the top of the plank. The nailhead is then removed, sunken into the wood, or just allowed to sit on top. This was the method used in a lot of antique, Plantation-era hardwood floors.
Alternately, the planks can be blind-nailed. Blind-nailing involves nailing into the side of the plank at a 45-degree angle. The nail goes into the subfloor and the head is hidden below the surface. Either way, once that is done, the space between planks needs to be filled.
There are different methods for filling the space but the most popular is using a combination of wood and epoxy.
Wood and Epoxy
Some crafters use wood resin, sawdust, and epoxy. This creates a generally wood-colored filling substance that can be poured between the planks. Others, however, choose to use bark or wood chips. Using bark or wood chips in the epoxy will create a less uniform look but will create a more textured filler.
A more textured filler adds more movement and complexity to the flooring but could distract from the live edge. A uniformly colored filler is less dynamic but allows the wood grain to really pop.
Typically, you’ll see live edge flooring in very wide and very long planks. That helps to emphasize the different planks. However, smaller planks are becoming more popular as well. Soon, they’ll be as readily available as any other type of hardwood flooring.