There are lots of excellent websites where you can find good information if you are thinking about purchasing and installing wide plank flooring. For this post, we have sorted the useful resources into three categories (we’ll cover more categories in future posts).
About the wood that is used for plank flooring
Wide plank flooring, which delivers the look and feel of rustic, antique flooring like no other wood can, comes in a wide variety of hardwoods, along with some soft woods.
A good place to start is the National Wood Flooring Association, which has a consumer-oriented site packed with lots of useful information on wood floors, ranging from descriptions of wood types and species, to designing a room with wood floors (with a cool interactive tool!) to wood floor maintenance. If you are thinking of installing plank floors, it is a good site to visit.
Another useful site is the American Hardwood Information Center. They cover more than floors, but also provide a good section on buying hardwood flooring. They also provide an excellent species guide that tells you where each wood grows, its physical properties, main uses, typical grades, strength and hardness, and other features that you’ll want to know before making a final choice.
Softwoods, primarily because they are softer, are less popular as flooring choices, but nonetheless several species of softwood, including heart pine, Eastern white pine, and Southern yellow pine, have been used extensively in wide plank floors, beginning with colonial times and proceeding to the present day.
The Northeastern Lumber Manufacturer’s Association has a page full of resources for eastern white pine. The association notes that Eastern white pine has been a mainstay of quality construction for centuries, and was the wood of choice for early colonists, who prized the tree for its straightness, strength, and durability. Pine floors are synonymous with early American dwellings.
Designing with wide plank flooring
There is no shortage of interior design websites to give you inspiration and ideas for wood flooring. There are no hard and fast rules about what species of wood does best in what location in your house. It is really up to you and your style of house, taste, furniture, and so forth. One of the best ways to get ideas is to look through the photo galleries of some good lifestyle and decorating websites.
Traditional Home is one such website with tons of images of different room settings. Another good site to visit is House Beautiful, especially their photo gallery of designer living rooms. You’ll see on the House Beautiful site that at least half of their top living room designs incorporate a beautiful hardwood floor — frequently wide plank.
One of the great features of wood flooring is its versatility. Wood is equally at home in contemporary homes as it is in traditional houses. You can see a lot of photos of contemporary wood flooring at this home owner forum. Finally, take a look at some of the beautiful wood floors in the gallery of this award-winning interior designer from Minneapolis.
Care and maintenance of hardwood floors
The National Wood Flooring Association is again one of the best destinations when you need information about care and maintenance of wood floors. As the NWFA notes, the recent advances in wood flooring stains and finishes means that it is easier than ever to care for a wood floor. Sweeping with a soft broom, and periodic vacuuming are the main tasks in caring for wood floors. The NWFA site has a complete list of other treatments you may consider in special circumstances. Overall, there are few maintenance chores easier than wood floors.
If you find that your wood floor needs repair or renewal, the NWFA is again a good place to start.