Wide plank flooring is all the rage right now. This is especially true when it comes to luxury home renovations. Planks that are larger than 4” in width are considered wide by industry standards. Many of the latest plank flooring projects call for boards as wide as 12.” A good rule of thumb is that a large room should have wider planks. If your flooring will be going into a small room, you can get away with the smaller planks.
Some of the current flooring styles prefer to give rooms a rustic appearance by using either reclaimed flooring or boards that are given the appearance of age. The only problem with this trend is the considerable amount of difficulty involved in finding and milling wood suitable to make such wide planks.
Another problem that contractors may face is the trickiness of installation. Because wood is an organic product, you can expect it to move over time. The wider the boards, the more movement you can expect. Since you want your floor to stay flat, you’ll want to make sure you work with someone who has experience installing wide plank flooring. You should also only purchase high-quality flooring made from a species that’s conducive to wide plank applications.
Only Choose Certain Species for Wide Plank Flooring Projects
This point really cannot be stressed enough. Selecting the right wood species can make a huge difference when it comes to the cost and finished product of wide plank flooring. Boards that are between 8-12” often come in limited supply for many species. If you’re planning to install a floor in a large room, you’ll need a lot of flooring to cover that amount of square footage. If you’re able to find enough quantity, you may run into issues with matching the grain and the color of your boards. That’s because the boards will have to come from different trees since one tree will only yield a relatively small number of wide boards.
If you do choose a species that contains a lot of color variations, you can always try to even out the differences with a color blending finish. Take Walnut, for instance. This species’ interesting grain patterns and the chocolaty-brown color is extremely popular for high-end flooring jobs. Unfortunately, Walnut is known for its tendency to have imperfections as well as its lack of heartiness.
With both of these characteristics working against it, you’ll be fortunate to find only a couple of acceptable wide flooring boards together from the same tree batch. You may also have to go down to a shorter than typical board length to find wide boards that look good enough to use. Some consumers choose to cover up the flaws in their Walnut boards with a dark stain, while others use another species, such as Wenge, that’s more readily available. It’s fine to use Walnut for your wide plank flooring project as long as you’re prepared to pay more and put in more work to get the floor looking the way you want it to look.
In our next article in this series, we’ll take a look at some of the other challenges associated with wide plank flooring.