Why Aren’t Hardwood Planks Longer and Wider?

If you have a hardwood floor or are shopping for one, you’ve likely noticed a few things about them. You may have noticed the trend toward longer and wider hardwood planks. And you may have a few questions. One of the questions rarely asked is the size of hardwood planks. Standard planks are about four inches wide. Wide planks are about six all the way up to eleven inches wide. They’re all typically a foot or two in length. That means you’ll spend all day installing a hardwood floor. Wouldn’t it be much easier and simpler to just use wide boards that are longer? If each board was twelve inches wide and ten feet long, you could floor a typical room with ten boards. So, why is that not the case, and what would be the problem?


Wood, as a porous material, absorbs moisture. It absorbs moisture when you spill a drink on the floor but also from the ambient air. When it absorbs moisture, it expands. When it dries again, it contracts. If the wood planks expand, they bump against one another and are squeezed upwards. They’ll start to bend upwards in the middle. If they dry, they’ll contract and open gaps between boards. If they dry unevenly or swell unevenly, they’ll often warp side to side. All of those things are more likely to occur the wider and longer the planks are. Longer and wider hardwood planks are more likely to absorb moisture or to dry out. They are also more likely to do it unevenly.


With a plank of wood, the weakest point is the point directly in the middle. The longer the planks of wood, the weaker that point. So, your flooring planks will likely be installed on a subfloor, but they’ll still need the strength of their own. The floor and subfloor are installed on joists, which are not solid. That means they’ll have weak points. If you have boards that are ten feet long, they’ll be very weak in the middle.


Installing longer and wider planks is definitely easier than using multiple smaller planks. However, there’s one situation in which that’s not the case. If a floor is irregularly shaped or if the room has several pieces of permanent furniture, it will be easier to use multiple small planks. For example, if you need to install the floor around an island or a permanent bookcase, multiple small planks might not even need to be cut. You’d have to cut long planks to try and make them fit around the obstruction. You’d also have to do a lot of work to remove and replace any damaged boards.

Do I Need to Do Anything Differently For Larger Planks?

The same installation methods are used to install longer length and wider width boards. Nothing extra is needed. The good news is, that they’re also very easy to maintain! Simply sweep or vacuum any debris, and use a cleaner formulated for hardwood – such as Bona -to clean up any spills.

In Closing:

What’s great about wider width and longer length wood plank floors is that you can use them for any style space! They can create drama in a modern space, or they can add a rustic touch–it all depends on what color and finish you choose! A dark hue with a smooth finish is perfect for a modern look, while a hand-scraped look can be used in traditional spaces. If you would like to get your own personal design consultation in our showroom just contact our office.