(Cover art by Jean-François Millet - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei)

The wide plank trend is spreading quickly in the hardwood flooring community. It’s a modern, updated version of the original hardwood floors of the past. As with most “new” trends, they are spawned from “old” trends, but with a twist

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Today we get our wide planks from forests protected and managed by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure we are not harming our planet to create beautiful hardwood floors.

Hardwood flooring trends in the 1800’s

In the 1800’s, hardwood flooring was a popular choice, but not like we know it today. Manufacturing and installing hardwood floors was intense, arduous labor. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that the circular saw was invented, which is why hardwood planks found in middle-class homes were often wide and rough.

Back then, long before the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), hardwood planks were cut from old-growth forests. The large diameter of these ancient, majestic trees led to the wide planks that are so trendy today. Back then, it had nothing to do with setting trends; it was the quickest way to get the product to the consumer.

Hardwood flooring installation methods in the 1800’s

Without the circular saw, cutting a plank from giant timbers was no easy task. It would take two men working a long-blade saw, back and forth, back and forth, carefully following a “straight” line drawn on the wood. The log would be balanced over a pit, one man stood in the pit, while the other remained on top. This was back-breaking and time-consuming.

There would also not be any sanding tools for a few decades. The wood was left unpolished, with square edges, laid side by side and nailed to the joists. It was a far cry from the sanded and polished flooring that we know and love today.

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The invention of the circular saw, as well as the sanding machine in the late 19th century was a huge improvement to the hardwood flooring industry.
By Pearson Scott Foresman

At that time, no one took humidity or acclimation time into account, placing the flooring as soon as you could. This would lead to huge gaps in the flooring come winter time and buckling and cupping in humid conditions.

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We’ve come a long way since then, and we’re bringing back the old, wide planks of the past and treating them to all the modernizations and installation techniques that we know today. Our industry keeps evolving, whether it’s new tools, or how to keep making hardwood flooring without hurting our environment and our forests.

Hardwood flooring has a long rich history, and we’re proud to be a part of it, as well as help shaped the way of the future. If you’ve got a hardwood flooring project, schedule a free design consultation. We’ll help you find the best hardwood solutions for your home or business.