Flooring 101: Choosing the Right Width for your Wood Floor
We are continuing our flooring 101 series this week and discussing one of the most important aspects of your wood floor design – the width of the planks.
In truth, this is not just about the width of your floor, but the overall dimensions of your entire floor - widths and lengths. And you want to think of this not as just another ”decision”, but an important design feature that will determine how beautiful your floor will turn out. You will find that you don’t want to settle for the 2 ¼ or 3” wide boards anymore!
If you are in the market for wood flooring you have been inundated with strip flooring options - prefinished, unfinished, character grade or select. No matter what the characteristics the floor has, you can’t overlook the fact that it is 2 ¼” (or maybe 3”) wide. After all, you only really want to use a narrow width like this if you are building a parquet floor.
And getting a wider board isn’t as impossible as it might seem. And you are joining the ranks of design savvy homeowners who know that wide plank flooring is growing in popularity. Just ask designer Steven Gurowitz, National Association of Realtors, Floor Covering Weekly, MetroWest Daily News, and more.
Wide Planks are “in” both for the value they add to a home, and for the beauty they can bring to the room. But what is “wide”? In the last 3-5 years, 5” boards have become the new form of “wide”. But even that won’t do if you want the best looking floor. And it doesn’t matter whether you want an authentic rustic look, or an upscale modern feel, the width of your plank will elevate, or diminish, the overall value and aesthetic of your room.
When you move beyond the standard 2 ¼ - 3” wide oak floors, there are two decisions to make. First, do you want all one width, or random widths? This is 100% a personal preference. Random widths work in any décor – rustic or modern.
All one width tends to be used the most in more elegant, upscale interiors where people like a clean, consistent, linear look.
Second, you must decide what widths, or width you want. There are basically 4 categories of widths to choose from. This can depend on the manufacturer.
Each of these photos represents roughly a 3-4’ wide span. As you can see the wider you go the fewer seams you have in the floor. In fact, if you upgrade your floor from the standard 3” strips to an average width of 8” you will reduce the number of seams in your floor by 80%.
The widest boards, in the 10” and above category, will naturally give you the fewest amount of seams, but it might not be available in all species.
For a hardwood floor clients tend to prefer something up to 12” wide, both for aesthetics and the simple fact that hardwood floors much wider than this are a needle in a haystack. These widths are much more common with Eastern White Pine flooring especially for historic renovation, restoration, or reproduction projects.
And remember, if you go wide, you want to make sure you get long lengths in your floor too. Request an average length of 7’ for hardwoods and 11' for Pine floors; otherwise it will completely defeat the purpose of getting a wide plank floor.