What is Plank Flooring?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Plank flooring is flooring which is made from solid wooden planks. The majority of wooden flooring was made with planks well through the 20th century, when alternatives began to gain ground. Many older homes retain their traditional plank flooring, and some new homes have planks installed because people appreciate their look and durability. Typically, this type of flooring must be installed by a contractor, using planks which have been custom cut for the structure.

Up through the 20th century, wood floors were typically made with planks.
Up through the 20th century, wood floors were typically made with planks.

Traditional plank flooring was installed by laying planks directly over the supportive floor joists. Modern versions are typically installed in the same way, although a layer of insulation may be put in place under the floor to keep the home warm. Flooring planks are typically wide and very thick, designed to withstand a lifetime of use, and they can be stained or painted or left untreated, depending on personal taste. They are typically mounted to the joist with wooden pegs which match the color of the flooring, although other attachment techniques are certainly acceptable.

A wide assortment of woods can be used for plank flooring. As a general rule, softer woods like pine are not a good idea. Cedar and oak are both common, and people can also use more exotic woods like ebony, redwood, ironwood, or rubber wood. One of the major advantages to plank flooring is that if a single plank fails, it can be replaced with another one without the need to tear up the whole floor; this trait can be very useful in high traffic areas.

Typically the character of the wood in the form of whorls and knots is retained in plank flooring. Many people think of plank floors as rustic, associating them with country farm houses, and the new homes that they appear in typically have a rustic theme. However, this flooring can also be made to look quite elegant, with pale woods like ash and beech sometimes appearing in less rustic homes, often as an alternative to hardwood flooring.

Care directions for plank flooring vary, depending on the type of wood and whether or not it has been sealed. As a general rule, frequent sweeping is recommended to avoid grit and dirt which could be ground into the floor. If the floor has been sealed, it can also be mopped to keep it cleaner; some people also like to run dust rags over their floor for a quick dry mopping.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

paul11

@spbigger

I wouldn't really advise that. You should redo the entire operation overall or install wide plank laminate flooring. I hope I understood your question correctly.

spbigger

Please tell me if it is possible or practical to put plank flooring over existing laminate flooring.

Thanks

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