Plank Hardwood Flooring Installing a wood Floor how to flooring how to hardwood floor

Plank Hardwood Flooring Installing a wood Floor how to flooring how to hardwood floor

Plank Hardwood Flooring

Plank Hardwood Flooring

If you are planning to upgrade your home by installing a new hardwood floor, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is how wide you want your floorboards to be. Hardwood boards that are less than 3 inches wide are generally referred to as strips, whereas boards that are 3 inches and wider are planks. Planks can be as wide as 8 inches, and can be installed in varying widths on the same floor; they lend a rustic, farmhouse look to your home.

Most dealers of hardwood floors will offer strips and planks of various widths; you will be able to choose planks from a wide variety of hardwoods, as well as softer woods such as pine and fir. One thing you should bear in mind, if you are thinking about wider planks for your floorboards, is that wide planks tend to shrink and swell more than narrow strips. Too much swelling can cause cupping, in which the edges of the planks lift up, or crowning, in which the center of the board bows up. Also, excessive shrinkage can leave gaps between the boards. To some degree, these alterations over time may add to the rustic flavor of your house, but excessive movement in your floorboards will eventually necessitate a new floor.

To control plank movement, you should control the temperature and humidity in your home by minimizing fluctuations. Use air conditioning in the summer months and humidification during the dryer winter months. Also, choose planks that exhibit a tighter, denser grain pattern, with vertical grain orientation. And quartersawn boards tend to be more stable than plainsawn boards. Quartersawn boards are created by first cutting a log into quarters, and then making parallel cuts perpendicular to the log’s rings. Because its grain is more consistent, quartersawn wood is very stable.

You should minimize the moisture content of your subfloor. A concrete subfloor may not be advisable for wide plank floors, as concrete retains moisture. The installation of a moisture barrier between the subfloor and your planks may help; consult with your dealer. And, finally, some wood types are more stable, and less susceptible to movement. Teak, pine, red cedar, and mahogany, for instance, are relatively stable species; beech, oak, and sugar maple are less so.

The benefits of wide plank flooring over strip flooring are largely aesthetic. When plank floors were first laid hundreds of years ago, resources (old-growth trees) were more plentiful; and the wider planks necessitated less sawing, and shorter installation times, than narrow strips of flooring. These considerations are no longer as relevant; it’s simply a matter of what appeals to you.

There is much wide plank flooring on the market that is reclaimed. The market for antique wood is trickier than for new wood, as there is no established grading system for reclaimed boards, so you or your designer should have some knowledge of how to shop for these boards. But if you do it right, your antique plank floor can be uniquely beautiful.

Try to find a dealer who is established and has a reputation to maintain; the dealer should have the capability to do many preparation tasks, such as kiln-drying and manufacturing, on site. And because there is no grading system, appearance becomes more important than grade. Some defects that will prompt a lower grade in new wood — such as cracked knots and worm holes — add character to an antique floor, and thus become desirable.

Plank Hardwood Flooring Installing a wood Floor how to flooring how to hardwood floor

But because each antique board is unique, shopping for these boards is tricky. Because of this variation, you should be suspicious of samples. The eventual load of wood that is delivered to your home will probably have a wide variety of densities, grain patterns, colors, and other features. It is just this kind of variation that lends an antique floor its charm; if you prefer consistency, you can stain your floor, or just purchase new planks instead.

If at all possible, visit the dealer’s shop and look over what’s available. If a store visit is not possible, then ask for samples of all the different woods that your dealer is proposing to ship with your order. And ask if the dealer will be mixing different wood species, such as oak and chestnut; if so, ask for samples of both. The color contrasts may not be to your liking. And ask whether the boards were originally used as floorboards — sometimes referred to as distressed boards, these planks will usually have deeper colors and more nailholes — or whether they are sawn from old beams, which results in a lighter wood, with fewer nailholes but more beetle tracks. Distressed boards appear more rustic, and most buyers of reclaimed floorboards prefer their darker colors.

If you make your selection carefully, you will have a beautiful new plank floor that you can be proud of for decades to come.

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