Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Just What Is Meant By "Wide Plank"


(Above): Albany Woodworks specializes in beautiful Wide Plank reclaimed Heart Pine flooring.  This is the Antique Heart Pine Wide Plank #1 Grade available on our website installed in a customer's home.  The consistant quality of our flooring makes it look original to the home.

From the Home Style Choices article Wide Plank Flooring:
 
You might think of wide plank wood flooring as something befitting a rustic cabin or a 200-year old historic home. It's true that these types of homes often have this kind of floor, but it doesn't mean that it can't be stylish in today's homes too.

As you'll find out below there's more to wide plank wood flooring than just pine boards fit for an old cabin. "Wide" doesn't discriminate among types of wood which means you can find wide plank floors in just about any type of wood, from softwoods to hardwoods, exotics to antiques. Wide plank wood floors aren't for everyone nor are they fit for every application. But they offer a refreshing alternative to the often-used narrow strip flooring and are certainly worth a closer look when considering wood floors.

Just What Is Meant By "Wide Plank"?
When it comes to flooring, "wide plank" simply means boards that are wider than about 3", give or take about 1/4". Anything narrower than that falls into the "strip" category of wood flooring.  Beyond that technical definition however, wide plank wood flooring usually carries with it a 'wider' implication. 'Wide plank' usually means boards that are anywhere from 5 to 20 inches wide. It's in these broader widths that wide plank wood flooring gains it's drama and distinction over the narrow strip floors.

"Wide" Isn't Biased - Lots Of Choices To Choose From
The nice thing about wide plank floors is that you're not limited to any particular type or form of wood. There are wide plank floors made from softwoods like pine and fir to virtually any kind of hardwood. It's also available in reclaimed and antique wood as well as exotic woods. Reclaimed wood is a good candidate for wide plank floors because it's often made from old growth trees. This kind of wood comes with the density that offers good stability (the measure of how much wood swells and shrinks) that's a needed feature with wide plank wood floors.

Are There Any Benefits To Wide Plank?
If you're in the market for a wood floor an appropriate question is whether wide plank wood floors offer any benefit over strip flooring. When floors were laid 150 years ago it made sense to use wider planks. The resources (larger, old growth trees) were plentiful, it took less time to lay the floor (fewer pieces) and using wider planks eliminated the effort of sawing larger boards into smaller strips.

In today's world however, the real benefit is mostly the aesthetic appeal that comes with a wide plank floor. It reflects a style choice that's still in the minority and from that standpoint, offers diversity.  There are also a few considerations you need to think about with wide plank floors because of their size. Understanding these points will help you make a more informed decision about whether they're right for your application.

Environmental Impact
One additional point to think about is the environmental impact. A lot of wide plank wood flooring is made from reclaimed lumber. That's wood that has been saved from the waste stream and put to good use again. Some of the very wide planks originated from the large trees harvested from virgin growth forests nearly a century ago that were used as beams in factories and barns. Reusing this wood saves existing timber stands.