Installing wide plank flooring can breathe new life into a house in a way few things can. Hardwood has been a classic for a long time, and for good reason. It’s elegant, and it will last for decades if properly cared for. And wide planks just have a special look you don’t see in most homes.
But within the category “hardwood flooring” there are several different options. One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want narrow or wide plank hardwood flooring. Read on to learn a little more about each and the differences between them.
The Difference Between Wide and Narrow Plank Hardwood Flooring
The difference between wide and narrow plank flooring may, at first glance, seem obvious. Wide plank flooring starts at about 5 inches wide and can go up to as much as 12 inches wide, depending on the wood and the manufacturer. Narrow plank floors tend to run somewhere between 2 and 4 inches in width.
But the differences go further than just the width of the flooring. The two floors give very different feels to a room, and you’ll need to consider the look you want to go for before choosing your flooring style. We’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of each type of flooring below.
Perks of Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring
If you want to create a traditional or rustic look in a space, you can’t beat wide plank wood flooring. Because wide plank is, well, wider, it tends to show more of the grain of the wood and includes more knots and imperfections. Some designers cherish these unique touches, as they help make a space one-of-a-kind and can add a rustic charm. Select Grade wide plank floors are also available that have very few if any knots. These work well in Contemporary or Modern spaces.
Wide plank flooring, lighter shades, in particular, are also gaining popularity in contemporary spaces. In large spaces, the wide planks and light wood can give an airy, open feel. Wide plank flooring also means fewer seams between boards and thus fewer interruptions of the natural lines of both the wood and the room.
Challenges of Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring
However, wide plank flooring is not the right choice for every space. In small spaces, the wider flooring can make the room feel cramped. And although this may be a perk for some people, the wider planks can mean a greater likelihood of knots in the wood, which can interfere with a more polished vibe. If you want fewer knots, make sure to specify a Select Grade wide plank floor.
In addition, because the flooring is wider, it can be harder to get a right fit between boards if you choose a lower quality product. This, combined with the lower humidity tolerance that wide plank flooring has, can mean the floor could cup more easily. If you live somewhere where humidity varies a lot, solid wide plank flooring may not be the best choice for you. For your home, you will need high-quality wide plank Engineered floors. These Engineered floors will look the same once installed and can be refinished again in the future.
Perks of Narrow Plank Hardwood Flooring
Narrow plank flooring can be an excellent choice for those who want to create a cleaner, more contemporary feel. It is also excellent in small spaces, as it tends to make the space seem larger than it is. In addition, because there are more boards in the floor, narrow plank floors tend to be easier to maintain.
Wide plank floors need more space to expand and contract with humidity, narrow plank floors need less. This means they won’t shift as much with changes in humidity and will be less likely to buckle or warp. If the humidity in your area changes a lot, narrow plank flooring or Engineered Plank may be a good choice for your home.
Challenges of Narrow Plank Hardwood Flooring
Of course, while narrow plank flooring has its benefits, it also has some drawbacks. For one thing, it isn’t as versatile as wide plank flooring. Wide plank flooring can work well in a number of spaces, but narrow plank flooring only really works well in contemporary spaces.
Narrow plank flooring can run on the more expensive side. Because there are more planks in the floor, it may take longer to install. Installation costs can however be offset if you are gluing and nailing your wide plank floors. Most wide plank flooring providers will require that installation use both nails and glue.
Accounting for Humidity
As we’ve mentioned, humidity is a major factor in choosing between narrow plank flooring and wide plank flooring. Generally speaking, 30 to 50 percent relative humidity is the optimal range for hardwood flooring. But in winter, when things are drier, and in summer, when they are more humid, things may veer out of that range if you do not have a system in place to prevent it.
There are ways to keep your flooring from being damaged by the effects of too much or too little humidity. For one thing, you’ll want to make sure your interior humidity controls (a built-in part of your HVAC system) are working at their peak performance. For another, you’ll want to be patient with the installation process. Make sure you floors are acclimated prior to installation. This can take a couple weeks but will be worth it in the long run.
If you live someplace with high or very variable humidity and you’re looking at wide plank flooring, don’t worry. You can still have the floors you want without dealing with bowing or cupping. High quality American made Engineered planks are much more resistant to humidity.
Unfinished vs. Pre-Finished Flooring
Another factor you will want to consider when deciding about your floors is if you want them pre-finished or unfinished. Both narrow and wide plank flooring is available in both options, so it’s a matter of personal preference. Would you rather have control over the finishing of your floors on site, or would you prefer to avoid the mess and hassle and just get pre-finished floors?
Find the Best Hardwood Flooring
Installing hardwood flooring is a tremendous investment for a house. It can transform your space faster than almost anything else. Think carefully about what you want the space to be, and you’ll wind up with the floors of your dreams.
If you are considering installing wide plank hardwood flooring, visit us at Oak & Broad. We’ll craft the hardwood floors of your dreams. Contact us today to get started on a new look for your house.