Wider planks. Darker colors. Richer tones. And more natural looks that showcase wood’s inherent textures and grains. These are just a few of the latest trends in hardwood flooring that are opening up a whole new world of design possibilities – and offering today’s hardwood flooring consumers more options than ever before to showcase their personal style.
Following are some of the top hardwood flooring trends.
When choosing new hardwood flooring, homeowners can now choose from wider planks, such as 5”, 6”, or even 7” planks over the traditional 2-1/4” to 3-1/2” wide planks. Wider planks visually open up a small space and can create a more spacious visual, making them an excellent option for living rooms, master bedrooms, or any section of the home. Many wide planks are now also available in longer lengths – up to as much as 6 feet, producing an even smoother-looking floor with fewer seams. Wide planks can be installed horizontally, vertically, or even diagonally – for a more dramatic look. While there is still a strong market for more traditional narrower planks, the wide-plank trend seems to be on the rise, with some newer products offered in planks as wide as 10 and 12 inches.
Gray has gained popularity in recent years as the perfect “neutral” tone for walls, carpeting, and tile. So it only makes sense that gray tones are now one of the hottest options in hardwood flooring. A trend that started on the West Coast and has now been fully embraced by the East, gray hardwood flooring is the perfect way to modernize an outdated room. Gray tones can range from light neutrals to deep saturated charcoals.
So why are grays so popular? Gray tones bring out the beauty of natural wood, highlighting the grains and texture, which adds visual interest to a room, allowing the flooring to be a true statement piece. While at the same time, neutral gray tones won’t overpower a room and will compliment many decorating styles.
Want to make a bolder statement? Consider the trend toward darker stain colors, such as ebony, for a rich and contemporary look. Or for a more traditional feel, consider a deep, warm Jacobean or dark Walnut. Or maybe go with a Royal Mahogany stain to combine the richness of ebony with the warmth of a red wood – for a truly sophisticated look.
One thing is clear. Consumers are no longer limited to selections of varying shades of brown only. Today’s hardwood flooring is all about color – and the deeper and darker the color, the bolder the design impact. Dark hardwoods, such as oak, cherry, and walnut, are perfect choices for creating this sleek, dark look.
On the other end of the color spectrum is an old white-wash technique that originated in high-end European flooring but has been embraced in the U.S. Known as lime-wash or pickling, the original technique used a mixture of lime and water, applied to the wood to soften the natural color and create a white-washed effect. Today, similar techniques use a much less-caustic liming wax to fade and age the appearance of woods such as oak and ash, giving them a more coastal feel. A great decorating option in shore homes, lime-washed wood flooring is also used in a variety of decors ranging from formal to rustic.
While many traditional high-gloss wood flooring options continue to be in demand, the latest trend on the market represents a definite shift toward less-shiny, low-gloss floors, which offer several benefits. Woods with low-luster hide small scratches and dents better than higher-gloss flooring – a real plus for pet owners and those with small children. Low-gloss flooring also does a better job at masking dust and buildup from footprints, making it much easier to maintain and clean and a perfect option for high-traffic areas. But one of the biggest appeals of low-gloss flooring is that it offers a more authentic wood look, often highlighting the color and texture of the wood more effectively than a high-shine finish.
Low-luster flooring is continuing to gain popularity in North America, where many wood products are now offered with gloss levels as low as 30%. As this trend continues, expect to see even lower-luster finishes.
Old is new again – and one of the strongest trends in hardwood flooring continues to be the move toward more authentic-looking wood. Think of the rustic feel of homes built in the 1700s, 1800s, and the early 1900s with the knotty pine, maple, and hickory that reveals wood’s natural graining, color variations, and true character. For the niche market looking for that antique vibe, we will continue to see domestic hardwoods that are intentionally distressed to provide an aged look. Aging techniques such as handscraping, which as the name implies, involves literally using a tool to scrape the wood by hand, will continue to be a popular. But as distressing technologies evolve, expect to see softer textures emerge.
Wire-brushed textures are also a leading trend with consumers. This technique uses a wire-brush to scrape off the soft top layer of the wood, leaving only the hardest wood and exposing more of the wood's natural grains and texture. Wire-brushed floors (also referred to as wire scraped) are generally much harder and less likely to show chips, scratches, and scrapes. Accidental scratches from pets' claws or furniture legs are more easily camouflaged on these floors since they tend to blend in with the natural wire-brushed patterns. Wire-brushed woods have particular market appeal in coastal areas, where the technique is often applied to white and light-gray woods for a more “beachy” feel.
Even more distinctly aged and eco-friendly is flooring made from reclaimed or recycled woods, a trend that is especially appealing to today’s green consumers. The term reclaimed wood covers all previously manufactured wood products that are now either being reused as is or are remanufactured into new products. Reclaimed hardwood flooring may include solid wood sourced from old barns, farmhouses, beams, and wood barrels, as well as logs salvaged from rivers and lakes. Variations in board lengths (typically longer and wider planks), knots, heavy graining, original nail markings, and color differences all add to the charm of this one-of-a-kind flooring.
In reviewing these trends, one thing is clear: today’s hardwood flooring consumers are looking for more personality from their hardwood floors. And with new technologies continuing to emerge in the hardwood flooring industry, there are more options available than ever before to suit a wide range of consumer tastes and styles.
You might also want to read about hardwood flooring styles and the most popular types of hardwood flooring for your home.