All wood floors develop wear marks over time. This is part of the charm of wood. Some people prefer softer woods because they develop a patina more quickly. For example, wide plank pine is very popular among traditional and historic homeowners because it soon develops an “aged” feel. Others do not find wear charming, and they tend to choose harder woods such as Oak, Hickory, Maple, and Ash. Depending on your tolerance for wear, you may want to factor species hardness into your flooring decision. One way of comparing the hardness of various woods is the Janka hardness scale, which measures the force required to push a tiny steel ball into a piece of wood. The higher the Janka number, the harder the wood. Janka numbers for wood species are available online. Though your floor is unlikely to ever experience the kind of pressure exerted for the Janka scale, hardness numbers can give you an idea of the general toughness of the various wood species.

The term wide plank flooring refers to solid, usually unfinished, wood flooring greater than 3 inches in width. Most wide plank flooring is between 3″ and 20″ in width and is sold in random widths (a random amount of three or more different widths). In the old days, people used the entire log or resource that was available to them, so floors in old homes have planks of several different widths, known as random widths. Single width floors, a more recent invention, are also available, although there is often a surcharge for single width orders or repeating pattern orders as this requires the manufacturer to do more sorting of the product.

Where you plan to place the floor in your home may make all the difference in your wood selection. Depending on your tolerance, a harder wood may be a better choice for a high-traffic area, while a lower-traffic area such as a bedroom may be the best place for a softer wood. Placing area rugs over your wood floor in high-traffic areas will also help reduce wear. Of course, wide plank flooring can always be refinished to remove scuff marks, if desired. The beauty of solid wood floors is that they can be sanded and refinished many times and still have a lifetime of wear left in them.

After weighing the many choices available to you and comparing manufacturers for the best product and price, rest assured that your efforts will pay off in more ways than one. According to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), 90 percent of realtors polled in a national survey said that homes with real wood floors sell faster and at higher prices than those that do not have wood floors. So think of wide plank flooring as an investment in your home that you get to enjoy every day.

Buildings and building materials respond to atmospheric changes. Therefore, while securing the flooring to the subfloor may help reduce and mitigate the problem, some squeaking will likely reoccur when the weather changes, perhaps in a different part of the room.

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