In most cases, a hardwood floor is made of planks of equal width and equal length. Each plank is probably about six inches wide and between eight and 12 inches long. Those are pretty standard measurements for hardwood flooring planks. However, many homeowners have decided to mix it up by using many different widths and/or lengths for their hardwood floors. The reason is actually a convergence of two different trends and some history as well.
The history of hardwood floors is one of elegance and beauty but also one of necessity. For many homeowners, local hardwoods were the only durable building materials that were available. Groups of townspeople would gather together to fell trees and cut them into usable boards. There was a limit to how many boards of equal size one could plane from each tree trunk. For example, if a tree trunk has a diameter of 17 inches, a crafter can cut that into two planks of six inches each. The third plank will be five inches wide. Alternately, the crafter could cut them into a 12-inch plank and a five inch plank. The divisions go on and on. Furthermore, it would have been wasteful to discard any planks that were not the exact same width and/or length as the others.
Therefore, many antique homes had floors with hardwood planks of different widths and lengths. That’s especially true of lower-income homes, slave quarters, cabins, and similar spaces. That rustic look has become very popular again. So, homeowners are deliberately choosing to mix hardwood widths to get that look.
The two trends that converge in the move towards mixed-width hardwood are the rustic trend and the economical trend. Many buyers are looking to make their home look more rustic and antique. Mixed-width flooring and reclaimed wood are great ways to do that. Wide-plank hardwood is a great way to do that as well. For the same reason that crafters in the past would cut planks into multiple widths, they would also cut the planks wide. That would minimize the amount of work they had to do. So, many antique homes have very wide hardwood planks.
The economical trend involves people looking for ways to get hardwood flooring in the most affordable way possible. Mixed width hardwood is a way to do that if you’re willing to do some shopping. Buying hardwood on clearance is a good way to cut costs. If you’re not worried about plank length or width, you’ll have a better chance of saving money.