Honey maple or golden oak? Red chestnut or red mahogany?
When you’ve finally decided to install hardwood flooring throughout your home, one of the most difficult parts of the process is honing in on the right color. It can be agonizing moving between several closely related colors. One has a little more red, the other is a bit more yellow. Which will be the easiest to live with for years to come?
Before you get to color, start with material first
Hardwood is hardwood … right? If you’ve been shopping for any length of time, you know there are big differences between different materials.
If you walk through a forest, or even take in the landscape as you travel to various regions of the world, you know different trees take on unique characteristics. An elm or ash tree looks vastly different from a pine.
Their outward appearance dictates how they will act as flooring material. The Janka Hardness Scale is designed to help you understand the qualities of individual wood. A wood’s hardness is evaluated by the amount of force needed to drive a .444 inch steel ball into the wood at half the ball’s diameter. It’s measured in pounds-force, and gives you an idea of just how hard specific materials are. While strand-woven bamboo is at the upper end of the scale in the 4,000s, a Douglas fir is at the lower end around 700.
Red oak is considered the mainstay in the industry. Because of its abundance, it is used widely as building material, including hardwood flooring planks. It carries a rating of 1290, meaning it pairs hardness with durability, making it a workhorse in the average family home.
Harder materials aren’t always better. The harder the floor, the less give it has to everyday activities. If you drop a glass, or your toddler falls, hardness may not be the best addition to your home. Harder materials are also more difficult to cut, drive nails into, or piece together for finishing work. Installation costs will be higher with more rigid materials. It’s a careful balance of personality, aesthetics, and functionality.
Color, color everywhere
As you’re finalizing your color choice, it goes without saying that your flooring color should match the aesthetics of your home. Cabinet color, appliance color, wall paint, furniture patterns – a mishmash of color will leave a room feeling chaotic at best. Your new hardwood should also blend well with other existing flooring materials inside your home.
Complementing existing colors may be necessary to create visual appeal. But you don’t always want exact matches in order to create harmony inside a room. Too much of one color can leave a room feeling flat. Instead, opt for complementary rather than identical.
In most cases, small rooms do better with lighter colors. Light colored wood floors will open up a room, leaving it feeling fresh and airy.
Exotic woods have become a trend in recent years. This includes hardwood like Brazilian Cherry or mahogany. There’s no mistaking these dark woods add sophistication and elegance to any room. But they may not be for every home. They are perfect for the kitchen, bathrooms, or even living spaces where quiet sophistication is what you choose to display.
We’ve also seen an uptick in patterned hardwood. This can be worked into your home in several ways. Parquet flooring is rising in popularity because of the intricate patterns it can add to a room. Or consider mixing different types of materials to get a unique hardwood pattern that’s all your own.
Let’s get into specifics
We’ve noticed homeowners are choosing bolder, richer colors. While standard oak finishes have become staple in homes all across America, right here in the Front Range, people are playing off our love of the great outdoors. Why not have fun with the color choices you make?
Instead of sticking with a standard color with little variance, homeowners are getting into mixed hardwood species, or using reclaimed wood blends for a unique look. Wild patterns and bold textures can make your flooring stand out, not just blend in with the surroundings.
If boldness isn’t quite up to your tastes, maybe you prefer hardwood with a natural appeal. We’re seeing an influx of gray tones mix into hardwood flooring choices. Flooring with smoky undertones adds both drama and character that can be appealing in some homes. This gives a rustic, edgy look that can lighten up any space.
Want even lighter? Bleached or whitewashed floors are also making a comeback. For contemporary, modern spaces, you can’t go wrong with the smooth, pleasing look that belaced or whitewashed flooring brings to a room. We love it because it puts the focus on natural wood grain, without making the floor look busy. It’s a great way to let the vibrancy of your home shine through.
And while many homeowners become fixed on color, you do have other ways to make your color choice shine through. Why not play with the size of the planks you install too? Plank size puts the natural grain and variance of the wood choice on display. We love wider planks because you notice the rich texture of the wood rather than the spacing between the boards. If you’re looking for a smooth, contemporary finish to bring into your space, this may be the perfect way to do it.
Final thoughts on hardwood color choices
If you stick with a standard color, standard material, it’ll never go out of style.
But if you want to bump up your selection, add more personality to your home, and move to something a bit more edgy, that might leave you stuck on what to do.
Trendy styles and colors will help sell a home in the short turn. If you’re thinking of selling, and are remodeling to get the most bang for your buck, select what current designers are showcasing. Right now, that includes super dark flooring colors, planks with undertones of gray, or natural-looking floorboards that look like you pulled them directly from nature.
Classic looks will never go out of style. If you’re having trouble deciding, worried about how you’ll feel in a few years, we often recommend erring on the side of classic. You’ll never be sorry when you stick with tones that have been around for years.
And if you’re really worried about which selection to make, go with your gut instinct first.
Whether you love light or dark, want earthy tones, or love bright colors, chances are you find yourself walking up to similar color patterns again and again. There’s a reason for that.
That’s your personality shining through.
Trust your gut. Select a hardwood color choice that resonates with you.
That’s the color that’ll look good in your home. One you’ll love for many years to come.