In 1376, John of Gaunt paid a princely sum to have an oak floor laid in his favorite castle, Kenilworth, "for dancing at the New Year." The floor would have been constructed from thick planks, cut from large old-growth trees and hand-planed to a smooth surface. The wide plank flooring installed in homes and public buildings in the centuries since then has shared those characteristics and the accompanying beauty and durability.
These planks are as wide as the trees from which they were cut. The narrowest are at least six inches (15.24 cm) wide, and they are often much wider. Today, old growth forests are rare, and trees large enough to be used for wide plank flooring are also rare. New planks are sometimes available from specialist suppliers, but their limited availability makes new wide plank flooring very expensive.