Herringbone Floors Are Trending—What to Know About the Classic Design

This traditional floor pattern is more popular than ever. Learn installation tips, material options, and design ideas.

kitchen with herringbone floors 102315468

Werner Straube

When it comes to flooring options, the possibilities are seemingly endless—even just in wood finishes. But add details like grout, installation techniques, and trim types, and you’ll find yourself with an abundance of unique ways to customize your flooring. One way to set your flooring apart from the rest is with the use of a traditional herringbone design. 

“Herringbone floors are rooted in history dating back to the ancient Romans, but they still look fresh today,” says Marc Bacher, founder and CEO of Stuga, a direct-to-consumer hardwood flooring company. The reason for the return? Bacher attributes it to consumers’ nostalgia for more traditional materials but with added interest. “We’re seeing a major resurgence of herringbone floors in design, and it’s no wonder. They make a modern-classic statement with a touch of boldness.”

Whether you’ve never considered herringbone floors or are set on the idea but still trying to find a way to make it work in your space, this guide to the best materials, installation considerations, and more will help you uncover everything you need to know before getting started. 

blue kitchen cabinets with dark wood beams
Michael Partenio

What Are Herringbone Floors? 

If you’re wondering what herringbone floors are and how they can be identified, the first step is to differentiate them from their equally angular cousin, chevron. Both chevron and herringbone patterns feature shorter planks with arrow-like patterns, but the most obvious difference lies at the joints. “With chevron floors, the boards are cut at an angle where they meet at a central point, creating a very symmetrical, arrow-like pattern,” says Bacher. This can create a more severe, bold look. “Herringbone boards end in a 90-degree angle that are staggered at the joint,” Bacher explains. “This gives herringbone a slightly less rigid pattern that flows beautifully throughout a room.” 

Herringbone Material Options

When it comes to selecting materials, there is a wide variety of options for creating a look that is distinct to your style and space. Nearly any rectangular flooring material is fair game, though Bacher isn’t afraid to play favorites. “Natural materials like wood or stone always look beautiful in herringbone,” he says. “Their organic textures work to soften the geometric pattern and their natural variations create elegant, subtle movement.” 

Take a look at other flooring materials throughout your home and consider how they will play together. Don’t be afraid to use the same materials or go a slightly different route when it comes to your herringbone pattern selections. With the addition of a herringbone pattern, you can completely differentiate one space from another, even if you’re using the same material. 

office with herringbone floors

Werner Straube

Installation Considerations

There is more to consider when it comes to installing herringbone floors than other standard orientations. It’s all about your intentions for the space and your goals in calling on pattern play. “Think about where you would like to lead the eye,” suggests Bacher. In an entryway, carve out a welcoming path that leads to the heart of the home so guests automatically gravitate in that direction. Alternatively, herringbone can create the feeling of more square footage in smaller spaces. “Herringbone has a lot of movement that can be used to your advantage,” Bacher says. “You can visually lengthen a space by pointing the ‘arrows’ of the pattern down the longest stretch of a room, or do the opposite to visually widen your space.” 

One thing to keep in mind is that installing herringbone floors will cost more than standard, non-patterned flooring due to the time and expertise it takes. Your installer should be able to give you estimates based on both straight installation and herringbone installation so you can ensure your budget allows for the floor pattern. 

Design Ideas for Herringbone Floors

Rethinking that open concept? Before you start building walls, consider playing it smart with flooring. “If you have an open floor plan, you can create visual distinction with an inlaid herringbone floor in, say, the dining area,” suggests Bacher. “Use straight planks in the same color around your herringbone inlay to create a space that feels intentional but not overdesigned.” Herringbone floors also look at home in elegant spaces. Consider this flooring technique when it comes to your foyer, dining room, and even office for a more refined yet unexpected design idea that elevates and differentiates the space.

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