Red oak plank flooring for a period look.
Though hardwood flooring has always been popular, it has gained in popularity in recent years. Derivative products have helped in this revival. A wide variety of hardwoods are available, including various wood products from South America and Asia. A variety of man made finishes are often applied to the top surface. In addition, many simulated wood products have appeared on the market. These include engineered hardwood, with a thin hardwood layer over plywood, laminate flooring with a hardwood look and ceramic or porcelain planks made to simulate hardwood.
But many prefer a colonial look to their floor and that the flooring is installed in the manner of the period. Colonial hardwood floors differ from modern hardwoods in a number of respects. Most modern hardwood is constructed of narrow planks of around 18-24 inches in length. The colonial look has wider planks of between six and 11 inches. The planks are longer also, with planks of over 10 feet in length possible.
Natural red oak planks are often the choice of flooring for a colonial look. It was popular in that period due to its combination of hardness, straight grain, heat retention and antifungal properties. The better floors were used from planks with a minimum of knots. Planks are normally created in a tongue and groove fashion for a tight fit.
For those seeking a truly authentic feel, there are companies that will kiln dry the planks and turn the tongue and groove edges using the cutting tools utilized in colonial times. Planks of the time were fastened using rose head nails with a slightly rounded nail head. They are known to be less likely to loosen than modern nails. These types of nails are still available today from some dealers.Sprayers were not used to apply finishes in the 18th century, so those seeking a true period piece will hand rub tung oil or other natural finishes to the planks. Some manufacturers will apply the finish at the factory and before installation. This method provides a faster installation process at the site and less noxious fumes.