Design Considerations for Buying a Wide Plank Hickory Floor

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Hickory flooring is one of the most popular wood flooring styles available today. This comes as no surprise given that this floor is so durable and so versatile.

But, not all Hickory is created equal and you want to make sure you do your homework before investing in a new Hickory floor. Use this information to guide you through the search and selection process, to ensure you are making an “apples to apples” comparison, and getting the best quality product that will create the look you envision, meet your installation needs and project requirements.


The term “heartwood” refers to the center of a tree, and in this case a wide plank flooring board. If you have been looking at Hickory floors, especially natural Hickory you may have noticed that some Hickory floors have a significant amount of color variation.

Hickory flooring and engineered wood flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

The darker, brown, center of the boards is the heartwood, coming from the oldest part of the tree. The lighter, blonde, sections of the board are sapwood and cut from farther outside the log. Heartwood plays two roles when thinking about wide plank floors — aesthetics and performance. Hickory flooring with a higher concentration of heartwood will look better because it does not have so much color variation. Hickory flooring with a higher concentration of heartwood will perform better because heartwood is the most stable part of the tree, and therefore produces more stable wide plank boards. These boards can also be installed in more environments, which we will go into later on in this post.

Widths & Lengths

When considering Hickory flooring for your project you must consider the widths and lengths that the product will come in. Mass produced Hickory floors are made by a machine which are equipped to handle short, narrow boards; therefore, a majority of flooring available is going to be 2-4” wide and up to 7’ long. To create a more beautiful aesthetic, use a board that is at least 8” wide, and an average length of 7’ will create the best look.

Hickory flooring and Prefinished Wood Flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

This will reduce the number of seams in your floor by up to 80%. By minimizing seams, you also minimize color variation, which improves the overall look of your floor, especially if you are considering a grade of Hickory with more knots for a more rustic look.

Air drying Wood from Carlisle Wide Plank FloorsDrying Process

It is a common misconception that Hickory floors are less stable than other wood flooring. Like all wood floors, it is not the species that determine the stability, but the quality of the wood itself. Aside from using the material with a higher concentration of heartwood you also want to make sure the wood is dried properly. The most stable wide plank hickory flooring should be made from the material that has gone through a double curing process. Double curing refers to a drying process that includes air drying for 3-6 months, and then kiln drying prior to manufacturing. This process slowly reduces the moisture in the timbers so the flooring is more stable once it is milled; this why so many Carlisle Hickory floors can be installed on radiant heat, near the water, and even on a concrete slab.

Installation Options

It’s true! With the right quality flooring, you can install Hickory on radiant heat, concrete slab, and even near the water. This is not the case with all hickory flooring so make sure they meet the criteria above — floorboards are cut from old, mature timbers; high concentration of heartwood in the floor; air and kiln dried.

Click here watch some helpful installation videos and learn more.

Heart Pine Flooring and Radiant Heat from Carlisle Wide Plank FloorsEngineered vs. Solid

In some cases, an engineered wood flooring may be more suitable for your project. In some environments, a solid wood flooring is a better choice. You want to make sure that the product you are considering is available in either structure so you aren’t limited, and you don’t need to compromise. Like our Hickory floors, not all engineered flooring on the market is created equal.  Decide whether solid or engineered hickory flooring is right for you.

Click here to download our engineered wood flooring shopping guide.

Wood Flooring Grades

Hickory flooring is available in a number of different grades, depending on the manufacturer. The grade determines how the floor will look once it is installed.

Every manufacturer uses different grading principles. Most wood flooring grades are based on the quality of the wood that is being used to make the floor. Carlisle is unique in that no matter what grade you buy the quality is the same, the only difference in the look you create. Here are examples of Carlisle’s Hickory grades…you can see how each one can create a unique look.

Make sure you understand the grade that you are considering. This can be done with project photos. Get inspired by our photo gallery of Hickory floors to better understand the design options and various looks that you can create a Carlisle hickory floor.

Color Options

When it comes to selecting a wood floor for your home, the color and finish you choose for your home will determine the final look and maintenance for your floor. The best and most convenient experience is ordering a prefinished hardwood floor which would arrive to you with the stain and finish you have selected. The best part about this is there is no finishing on site. This minimizes delays on site caused by sanding, staining, and finishing and increases accessibility to the job site for all trade and contractors for your project. You also know (almost) exactly what your floor will look like prior to installation. This makes it so easy to choose paint colors, wood cabinets and other interior selections to complete the interior décor of your home.

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