When a person hears the phrase “hardwood floors,” plank wood flooring is what typically comes to mind. These solid, wooden planks traditionally went right over the floor joist. Some folks stick to tradition when installing them today, but most prefer to place a layer of insulation first, to help reduce energy costs and retain heat.
Most wood planks are very thick in order to stand up to a lifetime of people walking across them, and they offer a great deal of flexibility in design. Homeowners may choose to leave them untreated, or they may apply a stain or even paint. For best results, hire a contractor to install plank wood flooring.
Styles and Costs
Customers have a variety of wood choices in plank flooring. We look at ash, bamboo, maple, oak, and pine.
Ash: $10 to $20 per square foot
This extremely hard wood makes floors some homeowners consider too light in color, although its sturdy nature makes it a popular choice. Color and grain pattern are the main indicators of cost. The wood holds stain well, providing a bit more flexibility for those put off by the light, natural color of ash.
Install this super hard wood in high traffic areas, such as the bathroom, entryway, hallways, kitchen, and living areas.
Bamboo: $8 to $15 per square foot
Bamboo plank flooring is a unique combination of natural and manufactured. To make bamboo planks, manufacturers soak individual bamboo strands in a binder and then use high pressure to form them into a plank of solid bamboo. The result is as durable and long lasting as oak, but from a sustainable source.
The heaviest influences on bamboo’s price are the binder and topcoat used during its manufacture. Cheaper bamboo flooring is much more susceptible to scratches and dents; prodigious use of area rugs is highly recommended, especially if you install it in your high-traffic areas or you have large dogs.
Maple: $7 to $16 per square foot
This hard, dent-resistant wood has a close, subtle grain that makes it a popular choice for homeowners looking for a lighter colored plank floor. Clearer grains come at a higher price, with streaks and knots lowering the price of maple planks.
Maple does not hold darker stains well, but most buyers prefer a lighter stain for maple anyway. Its hardness makes it a great choice for your high-traffic areas and in homes with dogs.
Oak: $8 to $20 per square foot
The most commonly used material is red oak. Don’t let the name fool you; red oak is not red. Its popularity as flooring material stems not from color, but from durability. The hardness of red oak means its surface holds up well against common abuses, absorbing fewer dents and scratches.
Grain pattern consistency and quality have the greatest influence on the price of oak, with more consistent grain patterns costing more. “Subtle” is not a word often used to describe the grain pattern of oak, making it unappealing for some homeowners.
Install oak in entryways, hallways, kitchens, and living rooms.
Pine: $5 to $20 per square foot
Technically a soft wood, the many types of pine offer a great deal of variance in hardness. In other words, check which kind of pine tree donated the planks for your plank wood floor; some pines dent and scratch easily under regular wear, such as pet paws.
Pine’s lower cost makes it a popular choice, despite its softness. You may install pine in your high-traffic areas, including entryway, kitchen, hallways, and living room. Place area rugs under furniture and in high-traffic areas of a room to lower the risk of denting.
Maintaining Wood Floors
Plank wood flooring offers homeowners easy maintenance. A soft bristle broom or dry microfiber mop works great for everyday cleaning. Once a week, run the vacuum over your wood floor, using the bare floor setting. This picks up dust from between the boards. About once a month, apply the wood flooring cleaner your contractor recommended.
Clean spills immediately, using a slightly damp cloth. Do not use products intended to clean tile or vinyl on your wood floors, as these tend to dull the wood’s appearance. In addition, wet mops and steam mops may damage the wood. Apply wax sparingly, or use a buffer. If you do use wax, apply it in light traffic areas every other time you wax.
Protect your wood floors with some basic precautions. Rugs in high-traffic areas and under furniture prevent dents and scratches. Apply felt protectors to furniture legs to prevent scratching. Replace these protectors as they wear out.
Do not slide heavy furniture across the floor; that is bad for both the floor and the furniture, as you scratch one and damage the legs of the other. A humidifier helps minimize gapping during dry, winter months.
Every four or five years, apply a maintenance coat. You can wait decades before sanding and refinishing your wood floor.