Customizing Hardwood Flooring – Board Width and Installation Patterns

When beginning the intimidating process of shopping for the ideal hardwood flooring to install in their home, people often must brace themselves, yet when they find the perfect hardwood flooring sample they begin to breathe easily once more.  But let me ask you a question: what in particular are you going to do with the hardwood flooring?  Obviously you’ve thought about the hardwood flooring variety and stain, because both of those will affect the desired feel and look of the room, but have you considered the hardwood flooring board width, decorative touches, or the pattern of installation?

Please don’t be alarmed.  Hold onto your hardwood flooring sample and continue reading about your various options.  You will come to find that you know what you desire better than you originally thought.

Hardwood Flooring Board Width

Hardwood flooring board width is separated into two groups, strip and plank.  Strip is less than 3” wide, whereas plank is greater than 3” wide, most of the time reaching 7” wide, but occasionally even wider.

Strip hardwood flooring may be used to develop just about any look by putting together the correct combination of variety, stain, pattern of installation and finish.  To give the illusion of abundant space, strip hardwood flooring displays a running, linear effect, similar to mirrors or lighter paint colors.  This can be very handy if you are trying to create a modern look in your room, particularly if you use a select grade hardwood with a uniform color.  Strip hardwood flooring is a common flooring choice used in commercial and residential buildings.

With its wide boards, plank flooring is used most often to create a rustic or country feel in a room.  While it also creates a linear effect in a room, the width of the boards doesn’t “grow” the space as much.  Traditionally made from pine wood and used as the flooring choice in colonial homes or old farm houses, today designers are being to realize the beauty of plank flooring in modern designs as well.

Pattern of Installation

The pattern of installation you select for your room may have as much emphasis on the final look as the choice of wood you have installed. It will guide the way you place the furniture and the flow of the room.  While there aren’t many choices, they are quite unlike one another, so make your choice carefully.

The simplest and most popular pattern of installation is straight.  The boards of wood are placed parallel to one another along either the width or length of the room.  This pattern works perfectly to achieve a simple, modern look as well as any other design where the goal is to display the handsome look of wood flooring – this pattern allows the wood to speak for itself.  Because it is the most straight-forward, this pattern is the cheapest of all the installation patterns.  The other patterns cost more because they require extra wood and longer installation costs.

Random installation is installed in a straight, parallel pattern just like straight installation, but the difference is that it uses a combination of hardwood flooring board widths.  You get to select the ratio of narrow to wide boards, which widths you would like, and how many boxes of each to buy.  This pattern of installation hands you a lot of freedom in terms of purchasing and may save you money if, for example, you purchase some left-over hardwood flooring from a discontinued series.  This pattern adds movement and gives the room an energetic feel, which usually produces a rustic looking space.

To add a bit of luxury and ceremony to a room while not wandering too far from the usual straight installation or adding on to your final bill, the diagonal pattern may be the one for you.  Boards will be installed parallel to each other, but laid at a 45° angle to the walls.

The installation of the parquet pattern is somewhat of a lost art.  Parquet installation is where the wood is laid in a sequenced geometric pattern, which often results in a floor which appears to be a checkerboard.  It sometimes has even more elaborate patterns inside each individual checkerboard square.  The choices of patterns are boundless. This pattern gives a room a very original and polished look, suggestive of European splendor.  While traditional hardwood flooring parquet installations are costly and uncommon, they have been replaced with prefabricated square pieces that have parquet patterns arranged in a wood veneer.

A Herringbone hardwood flooring pattern is where strips of hardwood flooring are laid in a diagonal, zigzag pattern which looks just like its name says.  This pattern may be arranged in two ways: the traditional method or in square pieces like the parquet designs.  The Herringbone hardwood flooring pattern gives a space a stately look which is similar to older European flats and the halls of museums.

Any of the installation patterns discussed above may be completed or finished with a perimeter border or other various touches like mosaics. These may be wood, natural stone, or other materials like glass and metal tiles.  Perimeter borders help to frame the room in which they are installed, separating it from adjacent rooms and also giving it a touch of formality. Inlays such as mosaics can add your personal individuality to a space and also considerably help to sway the room towards a specific style, while still giving you freedom in choosing the actual design of the decorative border or mosaic medallion.

About the Author

HarveyHarvey Zook, an award-winning custom flooring expert, is a Managing Partner with Valley Flooring LLC, a business he helped launch in 2003. With over 14 years of experience in the flooring and woodworking industry, Harvey grew up helping his dad build custom furniture. Working in the shop each day after school honed his skills and stoked his passion for custom woodworking. That same passion ensures that your experience will be nothing less than delightful. Visit Valley Flooring LLC and let Harvey and his team install the custom floor of your dreams.View all posts by Harvey →

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