Very Wide Plank
At Old Wood, we take pride in the fact that we have been working with wood for generations. Wide plank floors have been in use for centuries, and have stood as a timeless classic in a number of different architectural styles. Generally, wide plank floors are known as anything over 6-8 inches; we have taken it to the next level, and routinely create floors with widths between 13-24”. The recent large forest fires across the United States have given us a unique opportunity to salvage large, old trees to be turned into beautiful very wide plank floors. We have been working on our process and training our craftsmen for years to make these special floors, and we believe that the result is exemplary.
These floors are “all about custom”, so finishes are available in a wide array of textures and styles. You are the customer, and we can finish your floor to your own special specifications. Museum grade finishes like circle sawn, wire brushed, cobbler finishes, hand planed or scraped are available and encouraged.
Very Wide Planks can be had up to 24” in width and up to 20’ long.
Our standard mix is 8-10-12-14-16-18” wide. Depending on stock, we can get you boards of 20 inches and wider without problem. Given time, we can even raise that bar. Our boards are generally 3’-11’ in length, although longer lengths are available on a custom basis.
Thickness is either 7/8” or a full 1”, depending on our customer and their application. Thicker can be milled on a custom basis, though our standard thickness is often adequate enough for most installations.
At Old Wood, our boards are generally pre-drilled in appropriate patterns for screws, plugs or square pegs. If you’d rather do this yourself, just let us know.
Of course we have a wide range of colors available, and we are more than happy to work with you to create an oil or stain color that is unique to your project. We offer French bleeds, multi-hued stains, multi-layered antiquing and other finishes. We can top coat with our own House Oil Blend or Danish/Swedish oils of your choice. Whitened, pickled finishes are amazing looks and very available, but we do NOT recommend lye soaps as we have found them caustic to our employees and our own eyes. Wide-plank floors may be urethaned at our facility, although we recommend applying that after installation.
Pricing/Value: Very Wide Planks are so variable that we’d prefer to offer you our very best price once we know what you would really like and how we can best serve you. It may be that pegging and/or final finishing are best done on site or that we can offer you a slightly different mix to save you a bit. We will not be undersold when comparing “apples to apples”, and our prices are drastically below those of comparable EU makers. We believe our technique is truly equal to or better than all makers we are familiar with in all respects, and our pre-drilling for plugs or pegs is unique to our knowledge. We know our seasoning/drying is the best! We can air dry better in the Southwestern United States than they can in Denmark in a kiln! We dry kiln too, of course, and your boards will be a legitimate 6%.
Additional Information on Wide Planks
About Very Wide Planks:
My first ever “Very Wide Planks” went into the floors of the first sawmill shop that I built in the early 1980’s. Those were nailed down wet and shrank over ¾” in some places! That aside, I realized that otherwise, twenty years later, in a harsh high alpine shop environment, they were still in great shape and good to go for another twenty!
I began to think about drying and making Very Wide Plank flooring from Doug Fir and Ponderosa pine. These boards by definition come from very old, large trees, but we have an abundant supply of “reclaimed” material coming from the many fires on our own ranch and around us on tribal and public lands.
Wood moves. This is referred to as the coefficient of expansion and is innate even in bone-dry wood. Re-humidify it and it will move. The art of very wide planks is in the drying. We cheat. In New Mexico, “dry” is easy to come by!
The trick is to season the wood. Dry it, stack it to age a bit and then dry it again. This lets the boards relax so that when we trim, edge and “make” them, they are prone to lie flat and not try to cup and warp. By the time that we make your floor for you, we have already identified and removed potentially problematic boards.
Then we tackled the process. Large planers blew up all the knots, tore out a lot of wood and generally made the boards look too refined for this use. I read about how the woodsmiths of old did this, and realized I had the method right in front of me.
Our method removes small amounts of material to provide us with a clean, beautiful working surface, while at the same time leaving the beautiful knots and natural character intact. This process also opens the pores of the wood so that they accept stain and finishes more readily.
Proper technique is extremely important to getting the maximum use from these valuable and rare old trees. This is our model- call it thrifty or call it green or whatever you’d like, but for us it’s about the highest, best use for the wood.
To groove or not to groove, that is the question! Essentially tongue-and grooving was invented to hide the nails in modern floors. In reality, there is only one row of nails holding down each board, as the following board is held down by the tongue of the previous board. This has led to problems which are terribly noticeable in many wide plank floors that I have seen throughout the Mountain West. Floors from an otherwise very reputable company have been seen to shrink as much as half an inch or more after installation. The worst gap in one of our floors is perhaps ¼”, and this is rare. Usually it’s caused by unusual grain that moves more than “normal”.
A well-known Danish company advertises tongue and groove or splines, but if you read their entire website (the old version at least), you will see that what they really recommend for a truly reliable floor is to glue and nail, glue and screw or otherwise glue and attach the boards.
The substrate for our very wide plank floors can be plywood, good quality OSB or even an old plank floor, although a layer of plywood over that floor will avoid squeaks and voids. Any gaps between the boards can be filled with our Citri-Fill filling agent which remains flexible and in contact with the boards even during seasonal expansion and contraction. It is pleasant smelling and works very well for filling small and medium-sized cracks and gaps. Plywood need not be glued in place ,but rather consider using two sheets of ½” laid at 90 degrees to each other. When the floor is screwed and glued, you are building a very strong, 2” thick, stressed skin structure, which is naturally flat and actually has a lovely feel and sound to it. This is a tried and true method in our area where so much construction is slab on grade.
Screwed and Glued. This is a floor that will not move. This is our solution, and we have taken the process to another level that helps you and your installer get a reliable system and reduced cost and aggravation. We can groove for splines if you’d like, but we simply don’t believe it to be necessary. The glue does the job: read on.
We pre-drill your boards to accept screws, hand-cut nails or even pegs. These holes can then be filled with round dowels which we can provide or square pegs at some additional cost. We can provide the entire hardware and glue package and all your installer does is lay these huge, beautiful boards in a pattern that suits you. Believe me, when your average board is over 12” wide or wider, floors go down fast!
We recommend a good water-cured urethane adhesive. Bostik products in particular work very well, and when applied according to their instructions, you may also get a combination moisture barrier as well as one very tightly adhered board. The screws draw the board down tight into the adhesive where it cures in full contact with the substrate and the glue. This floor is not going to move! Glue per manufacturer’s recommendation in general, but a ¼” x ¼” square notched trowel is a reasonable start.
Glue Down: We have seen floors glued in place on slab and once the glue is cured they will not move, but the floor will need to be weighted, strapped or whatever other tricks are necessary to get a reasonably good fit. Any gaps can be filled as above for a very good look. If you have experienced glue-in -lace installer, you will get a good result. I would not recommend practicing on this for your first floor, though. Remind them that their warranty will be between your floor and my boards! It is “do-able”, but proper caution should be exercised.