Most flooring is available in several different width options, ranging from narrow boards to very wide boards. Because width is immediately noticeable and has such an impact on the pattern of boards, it can be a very important choice when achieving the right appearance. Read on to compare wide vs. narrow boards and see which would work best for you.
A wide flooring board is usually defined as anything as wider than 5-6 inches. Some options are much wider than that, however: The widest boards are typically 10-12 inches (custom projects may go beyond that, but this is rare). Wide boards also tend to have correspondingly long lengths, too – 7 to 10 feet at the least. They are most often made from natural woods instead of engineered wood.
Wide boards are growing in popularity for several reasons. First, when it comes to natural hardwoods, a wide board is better for showing off their innate beauty and the intricacies of the grain. Second, fewer cracks in the floor mean fewer issues with long-term gaps and similar problems. Third, these wide boards are useful for both cabin-like interior design and minimalistic, ultra-modern settings, especially when it comes to larger rooms. They are easy on the eyes and can even change the apparent size or shape of a room.
However, wide boards are not suitable for every wood flooring project. As you can imagine, they are a bit more difficult to install in small spaces or areas with odd corners. When used in tiny rooms or positioned strangely, their design doesn't work out well, either, which is why getting advice from a home design expert is important when choosing wider boards. Finally, wide boards can be more costly to both produce and install, which means you may be facing higher prices.
Narrow boards tend to be both more common and more versatile than wide flooring. Anything 5 inches or below is usually considered more narrow than wide. Because these boards are easier to manufacturer, they tend to come in many varieties of size and shape. Methods for installation also tend to be more numerous, and installation is often (not always) less complicated.
Because narrower boards are more common, you probably know what to expect from their appearance: They tend to have more seams and generally make a floor look more "busy" – some styles more than others. This doesn't always look appropriate, especially when it comes to large rooms with lots of floor space. Smaller rooms, however, rarely have issues.
Combining Wide and Narrow Boards
Modern and more experimental styles freely combine boards of different widths and lengths on the same floor. Of course, this increases installation time and expense, but it can also look more interesting and organic than a floor that is too uniform in size. If you are having trouble making up your mind, we suggest you take a look at a store sample or find a home where this varying style has been used to see if you like it.