In our previous articles (see Parts 1 & 2), we mentioned some of the reasons why wide plank flooring can be difficult to work with compared to standard-sized flooring. Because a wide plank board includes wood from different parts of the tree, it’s bound to behave inconsistently if it’s not dried, milled, and installed with care. In this article, we’ll be considering some helpful tips for installing your wide plank wood floor in a way that’s designed to last.
How to Install a Wide Plank Floor That Won’t Become Uneven Over Time
First of all, it’s important to leave gaps between your boards. All year long, the boards are going to move in response to changes in the seasons. Before you ever install the boards, sticker them and let them have some time to acclimate to their new surroundings. How long you’ll want to wait will depend on several factors, such as how far the boards traveled to reach their final destination, and what the environment is like in the room where the boards will be installed.
If you choose to use the tongue and groove method that we recommended in our last article, you’ll also want to leave gaps between the boards. If you’re a supplier, inform your clients of the need for these gaps to help them avoid costly installation mistakes. Let them know that the expansion and contraction of the gaps between the boards is normal due to seasonal changes throughout the year.
You can normally toenail the tongue side of the plank to your subfloor so that the board will be anchored on one side and move on the other side of the board where you leave the gap. For clients that don’t ever want there to be any gaps, a floating floor would be the alternative to this method. With a floating floor, the whole floor will expand and contract together, with the changes being hidden by a shoe molding around the edge of the floor. There is, however, a potential for unevenness with this type of floor, because there’s no way to guarantee that all of the boards are going to have uniform movement either in the directions or the amount that they move.
Install a Humidity Control System for Greater Stability
If you’re still concerned about the potential for instability of your wide plank flooring, there’s a solution that goes beyond proper milling, drying, and installation. You could install a humidity control system in the room where your flooring will be located. Though such a system may be costly, it will protect the integrity of your flooring and help it to last. If you’re installing your flooring in a room such as a laboratory that needs to be kept as clean and sterile as possible, such a system would certainly be appropriate. Many homeowners, however, may not consider them to be necessary. If you have issues with your flooring down the road, do keep in mind that a humidity control system is one of the best ways to keep your floor as stable as possible throughout the year, and a system like this will minimize potential headaches with your floor boards moving.
These issues with stability are one of the main reasons why wide plank hardwood flooring used to be found almost exclusively in luxury homes. As this option becomes more prevalent in mainstream use, consumers need to work with knowledgeable suppliers and installers and be educated in order to better understand the pros and cons of wide plank hardwood flooring.