If you have been looking for new flooring or just looking through social media, you’ve noticed that wood floor planks seem to be getting wider and wider. This new trend is actually something very old. The earliest hardwood floors were cut, planed, and shaped by hand. That means that the carpenters minimized the amount of work as much as possible. Cutting a tree trunk into large planks and then cutting those planks into skinnier planks would have been an unnecessary step. Instead, they left the planks wider. In today’s design world, a wide plank is about six inches wide or wider.
As homeowners work to recreate rustic looks, they’ve gravitated towards wide plank flooring. Before you get on the trend, you should know if there are any practical concerns.
Cupping and Crowning
Cupping and crowning can happen to any type of wood plank regardless of width or species. However, it is more common with wider planks. Cupping is when the edges of a wooden plank seem to rise up to form a cup shape. Crowning is when the center rises. Moisture causes these things to occur. Typically, it happens when you spill something and don’t clean it up or when there’s flood damage. However, it can happen just from ambient humidity as well.
Wide planks are more likely to cup because the wider planks have slightly less structural strength. Much like a long piece of wood is more likely to flex in the middle, a wide plank is more flexible. However, there are solutions. A strong vapor layer underneath your planks will help reduce humidity concerns. Alternately, choosing engineered hardwood can work. Engineered hardwood is more rigid and absorbs less moisture than solid plank hardwood.
If your wide plank floor is damaged in some way that’s not repairable, you’ll need to replace the entire plank. Replacing the plank is no more difficult with a wide plank, but the repair will be more noticeable. If it does not match the existing hardwood, it will be a bigger mismatched spot than with a skinnier plank.
Installation of wide plank hardwood is slightly more difficult. You might have to cut more planks to fit your floor if the space is not easily divisible by the width of your planks. You’ll also likely need to cut them more to fit irregular shapes.
These are by no means reasons to avoid wide plank hardwood. You just need to be aware of the issues when you make a purchase.