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Wood Flooring Trends: Wide Plank White Oak

When we tell people we manufacture and sell solid hardwood flooring up to 18” wide, they look at us like we are crazy, especially if they are in the flooring industry. To most people, the wider the board the more likely you are to have problems with cupping, gaps, etc. We can happily say that our wide plank live sawn white oak is our most trouble-free hardwood flooring option, and the one where we receive the fewest complaints.

The live sawn method of sawing the boards makes it incredibly stable, minimizing cupping, gaps, and squeaks if installed properly. Of course, all of these problems can occur in environments with extreme humidity fluctuations but happens significantly less than other hardwood flooring options. Because of the rustic look and texture of most live sawn floors, you hardly notice cupping if it does occur. When you have a hardwood floor with a smooth finish and a high gloss, especially in a dark floor, even the slightest cupping is very noticeable. This makes the live sawn white oak an ideal hardwood flooring option for a cottage environment which will have more relative humidity fluctuations than a normal home. In an extremely dry environment, even hardwood floors as stable as our live sawn white oak can shrink.

In a rustic wide plank hardwood floor, gaps are almost expected and really don’t take away from the overall look and appeal of the floor. In a traditional hardwood floor, especially one with a dark stain, gaps in the floor are magnified. This is especially true with very light woods like maple, hickory, and ash. If the flooring has a stain, the tongues on the boards are still white and when the wood shrinks, this white tongue is exposed. This isn’t an issue with natural floors but very noticeable when the wood is stained.

Of course, most people expect engineered hardwood flooring to be our most problem free flooring option, but it isn’t. When a solid wide plank live sawn white oak floor is dried out, it shrinks, and the worst-case scenario is you get some gaps between the boards. When a wide plank engineered floor is dried out, the surface wood layer shrinks, and the plywood below doesn’t. This causes the surface wood layer to check and crack. When we make the wide plank engineered flooring with a two-pass or distressed finish with a low sheen, these cracks are less noticeable, but are still there. With proper humidification these cracks should close up but will always be there.

Another reason we have so few complaints with our wide plank live sawn white oak is because of its rustic appearance. Clients buying this floor are expecting a lot of character and not a perfect floor. Wood is a natural product and there is no such thing as a perfect floor. If a live sawn white oak floor gets dented or scratched, it adds to the character and charm of the floor.

On a standard hardwood floor with a perfectly smooth finish, these same dents take away from the look of the floor and are considered by most clients to be an issue requiring repair. These dents and scratches look especially bad on a floor with a dark stain and a higher gloss finish. So, there you have it, those are the reasons why I would much prefer to sell someone wide plank live sawn white oak than any other floor. It makes the world a better place for everyone.

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