Wood -- and faux wood -- flooring offers a beautiful and warm backdrop for any home. Use these decorating and buying tips to find the perfect match for your style and lifestyle.
Real wood flooring is right at home in living rooms, dining rooms, dens, and any space in your home you want to look warm and inviting. Wood floors are a great continuous flooring option for open floor plans. Not only do they look attractive in large quantity, they can be layered with rugs to create more intimate room arrangements.
Wood is an easy-maintenance choice for main living spaces, especially when treated with a durable finish, such as urethane, that withstands traffic. Sealed wood floors are protected from occasional water splashes, don't require waxing, and are easy to clean by sweeping or mopping. Wood also offers a warmer and quieter option to its allergen-free counterpart, tile.
Wood is wear-resistant, long-lasting, and can be refinished as needed. Natural wood does expand and contract with changes in climate, but professional installers can minimize problems that occur with climate fluctuation. Professional installers have the experience to know how to curb potential warping, splitting, and other problems. If your budget calls for a DIY installation, look for tongue-and-groove construction, which often just clicks together, eliminating the need for nails or glue.
Engineered wood has a hardwood veneer that is glued to a plywood base. It is not as vulnerable to climate changes as solid wood, and is generally less expensive. But since it only has a veneer of hardwood, it can be difficult to sand and refinish engineered flooring.
Wood flooring is typically sold in strips and planks. Strip flooring is the most common and least expensive option, consisting of boards less than 2 1/2-3 inches wide. Plank flooring comes in 3-6-inch-wide pieces that show off its natural wood grain. This more expensive option often resembles antique wood floors. For a truly unique (albeit expensive) look, seek out extra-wide planks that are 7 inches and wider.
If you're looking to add a little more detail to your floors, consider parquet flooring. Intricately detailed patterns made up of small wood pieces that are joined together can give your floors a unique look. Patterns range from simple chevron motifs to highly detailed geometric designs.
Made from renewable resources, wood flooring is an environmentally friendly choice. It is popular today to salvage flooring from old barns or warehouses and re-mill it for new houses.
Treat raw or old wood floors as a blank decorating canvas. You could paint a checkered pattern to mimic the old-fashioned floor of a vintage country home. Or, coat the floor in glossy white paint to set a crisp contemporary setting.
For a classic, traditional look, choose floors milled from maple, ash, or oak woods. Medium-color stains, such as a honey hue, add warmth to these timeless woods and enhance their natural grains.
You can guide the look of your wood floors to compliment your decorating style by choosing a specific stain finish. Dark stains, such as walnut and ebony, establish a more contemporary backdrop.
Lightweight fabrics and softly muted wall colors set a bright and airy ambiance for cottage style. Reiterate this mood underfoot by finishing wood floors with a light or blonde stain. Consider wood planks that are weathered or distressed to add a rustic touch.