4 Hardwood Plank Sizes and How to Use Them in Your Space

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated July 6, 2021
Closeup of wide plank, golden yellow wood floor with console table
hepatus/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

The hardwood flooring plank width you select can make an enormous difference to the aesthetics of your space

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If you’re adding hardwood floors to your home for the first time, deciding what type of wood and shade to pick is a daunting enough prospect. It may come as a surprise to learn that there are multiple different plank widths you can opt for, too. 

Which one you choose can make a big impact on your room's overall aesthetic and your new flooring cost. Luckily, narrowing down the width that’s right for you is easy with a little know-how. Learn more about the different hardwood plank size options and their pros and cons.

Narrow Planks

Often also referred to as strip planks, these boards usually range from around 2 to 3 inches wide. When laid straight, this versatile width offers a timeless, clean, and elegant look in most room sizes. Narrow planks are the perfect choice for a smaller room, as they can make it feel larger. Selecting a light wood shade will help to create a contemporary, linear sense of style.

If you plan on refinishing already fitted hardwood flooring in a classic, older home, you’ll likely see this size of plank. These planks are typically used for creating patterned designs like parquet, herringbone, and chevron and are also easier for lining up corners.

Be aware that installing these narrow strips is more time-consuming, which can add additional expense if you are hiring a local hardwood flooring contractor.

Standard Planks

Manufacturers often refer to boards around 5 inches wide as being the standard plank size for hardwood flooring these days. This width is popular for achieving various looks in most room sizes, especially the rustic or farmhouse décor styles. 

Because they are readily available, you can typically find competitive pricing on these boards. For those who struggle with too many choices, opting for this plank size, with the many choices in color and design, could mean making a final decision will be tricky.

Wide Planks

If you have a large enough space and want to follow the latest trend, why not opt for the broadest plank widths? Anything from around 6- right up to 12-inch-wide boards are now available. A popular choice for large, open rooms and spaces, there are many advantages to using a wider plank.

With this type of plank, there are fewer seams on display, and they offer a flowing and luxurious appearance. Wide, weathered boards are a popular choice in rustic farmhouse settings because the wood grain can be more visible, adding character. In more formal settings, selecting a darker wood works well.

Wide planks aren’t without their drawbacks, though. In small spaces, it can make the room seem even smaller. If you do want a wider plank to create a dramatic look in a smaller area, it would be best to select a light shade and stick with one no wider than 8 inches.

The widest planks are also more susceptible to warping, a common problem with hardwood floors. Maintaining your hardwood floor will be more challenging too, as scratches can appear more visible. You may want to avoid these types of planks if you live in a high-humidity region or are fitting wood flooring in a bathroom.

All plank seams become more prominent over time as the wood naturally expands and contracts. You should be aware that these changes can become more noticeable in wide planks because there are fewer seams. For a more uniform look, a narrower plank would be a better choice.

Finally, it should be no surprise that these wide planks are more expensive than the widely available standard plank size. If you are on a limited budget, this could present a challenge.

off-white accent chair sits in corner by window in room with dark blue walls and diagonal plank wood floors
Aleksandr Zubkov/Moment via Getty Images

Random-Width Planks

Hardwood flooring now also comes in mixed-width options. These planks work well if you are looking to achieve a rustic, natural look. In the past, all parts of the tree were used to save on building costs. Mixed planks can be a great option if you have an old country house you are renovating. 

These planks can also be an economical option for those on a budget, as manufacturers don’t have an intensive sorting process, and prices can be more competitive. Mixed packages usually have boards varying from as narrow as 2 ¼ to 5 inches, but it will depend on the individual manufacturer.

However, these won’t be the right choice if you are aiming for a streamlined, flowing, and uniform aesthetic.

Gone are the days when plank widths only ranged from around 2 ¼ to 3 inches wide. While the versatile, narrow width offers a classic and timeless look, on-trend wider planks are often the preferred choice for making an impact in larger spaces or achieving a rustic, farmhouse feel.

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