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How to Choose Hardwood Flooring Perfect for Your Home

Hardwood flooring can complete a home’s carefully crafted look and provide decades of beauty and enjoyment for the whole family. Finding the perfect hardwood floor to bring out the best in your home’s design is easy and fun with the right know-how.

How to Choose a Hardwood Floor Color and Species

Hardwood flooring has maintained its timeless elegance for hundreds of years. As homeowner preferences change, so do the options flooring professionals provide. With so many choices on offer, it’s essential to examine what makes your home unique and coordinate those factors with a complementary floor color and texture.

1. Consider Your Home’s Aesthetic

Every home has its own unique character. Homeowners’ interior design choices allow that character to shine, from wall colors to furniture style. Hardwood floor colors can bring aesthetic elements of a room together and complete the look if done right. We’ve listed examples of popular home aesthetics and the hardwood floor species and colors that enhance them best:

  • Contemporary: Fashionable and clean, the contemporary style includes open spaces, natural light and neutral tones. A deep, dark wood like walnut or a very light beige wood like maple complements this interior design well.
  • Traditional: Warm, earthy wood tones like red maple bring out the classic feel of a traditional interior. Depending on your furniture colors, you could lean more into orange hues or stick with sleek, neutral brown.
  • Industrial: This style often includes textured or multitoned wood floors to balance the monochrome metal fixtures and gray brick walls. Reddish undertones in your hardwood will look stunning in industrial-inspired spaces.
  • Beach: Light hardwood floor colors work best against the natural light, white walls and navy accents of beach-style homes. Some understated woodgrain hardwood floor textures will also elegantly contrast with the blocks of distinct coastal color.
  • Minimalist: Increasingly popular in the San Francisco Bay Area, minimalist-style homes have clean lines and uncluttered, sprawling spaces. Your floor will be front and center, so choose a high-quality, minimally textured muted greige or light beige wood to enhance the room’s airy feel.

2. Identify Your Decor’s Color Scheme

Color is everywhere in the home — even in the most neutral spaces. If you’re wondering how to choose hardwood floor colors for your home, your first reference should be the shades you already have on display. You can use color theory to pick which wall, furniture and decor colors work best with different hues of hardwood floor.

  • Contrasting colors: If you want to create bold visuals and a striking look, pick contrasting colors. They balance one another out while giving the space visual dynamism. If you have dark teal, bluish-grey or cool-toned charcoal in your room, for example, consider choosing a hardwood floor with orange undertones like cherry.
  • Visual relief: If your room already has one bold, predominant color, it’s a good idea to give the eye variation. If your door and window fixtures are made of deep orange-tinted wood, for example, break up the color with a lighter beige or even an ashy greige stained oak floor so the room has color variety.

3. Assess Each Room’s Lighting

Light can change the way our eyes perceive colors. That’s why it’s so important to view hardwood floor samples in your home and not under the harsh fluorescent lights of the hardware store. Depending on the room’s lighting, the perfect hardwood floor color can vary.

  • Natural lighting: Spaces that get a lot of natural light, like sunrooms, living rooms and kitchens, are great areas to add intrigue and texture to your floor. Natural light allows the wood’s true color to shine through, so you have a great deal of freedom when coordinating your floor with your design aesthetic and color scheme.
  • Warm and cool lighting: Warm lighting brings out the warm tones in the flooring, enhancing the cozy and homely feel, while colder white lighting washes the warm tones out, making the wood appear more gray and neutral. Of course, if you’re in love with a particular wood color that doesn’t suit your lighting, you can always change your lightbulbs to accommodate it!

4. Think About Each Room’s Function and Size

Each room in the home has different needs based on what it’s used for. An intimate library with mahogany bookshelves and a crackling fireplace would fare better with a darker, more broody hardwood floor, while a kitchen bathed in natural light with white cabinets and lots of foot traffic would benefit more from light wood. Consider these factors when deciding on a color:

  • What you use the room for: Lighter-colored wood, like white oak and maple, is better at camouflaging scratches from dragging furniture, zooming pets or playing kids, so consider going lighter in living rooms, kids’ rooms and play areas. In-house gyms and laundry rooms also feel fresher and cleaner with light wood.
  • How often you use the room: Areas with high foot traffic may need more frequent cleaning. Dark wood tends to show more dust, fur and debris, especially if it isn’t very textured. Entrance halls receive all outside debris first, so while dark wood may look stunning in the area, you’ll need to add a rug or commit to more frequent sweeping.

How to Pick Between Engineered and Solid Hardwood

While both engineered and solid wood floors have their advantages, it’s important to understand how they differ before committing to one. Although both look similar, they are made of different core materials and suit different needs.

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood boards are made from one piece of wood from a single piece of timber. They are a great long-term investment because you can sand them down many times while retaining the beautiful, natural texture. This ability means your maple, walnut, cherry or oak flooring will last a long time before it needs replacing, even if your home is prone to scratches and scrapes. Solid hardwood is extremely durable and can last up to a century with proper maintenance.

Solid wood is less impervious to humid climates than engineered wood, so planks may expand and contract as moisture levels and temperatures change. You’ll usually pay a higher premium for solid wood because of the raw materials used to make it and how it is installed. For best results, hardwood floors should be installed over a wooden subfloor.

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood boards are made of a plywood or laminate core with a thin layer of hardwood covering the top. Their composite core makes them more cost-effective than solid hardwood and allows them to be laid over various subfloor surfaces, including concrete slabs. Their solid cores also let them hold up well against the moisture and high temperatures that come with humid climates.

The life span of engineered wood is less impressive than that of solid hardwood because it can only be sanded a handful of times before the underlying laminate shows through. They may also have a less organic appearance than solid hardwood because they aren’t made from one piece of timber.

How to Decide on Hardwood Floor Width

Some homeowners love the look of many parallels running across the room’s width. Narrower planks around 3 inches or less in width allow for texture gradients and a more classic feel. If you’d prefer a floor with fewer visible seams, select a hardwood that comes in wider planks. This will give the room a more contemporary, luxurious appearance with a flatter surface that shows the natural knobs and twirls of the tree it comes from.

The Best Hardwood Floor Options in the San Francisco Bay Area

TC Floors & Design offers California homeowners outstanding quality solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring solutions. We’ll guide you through your flooring process, from in-home wood selection consultations to design and installation services. Our team of experts is dedicated to impressing our customers with above-and-beyond customer service, so schedule a consultation at your convenience, and we’ll take care of the rest.

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