Hardwood Floor How-To's

Basic Floor Design

Learn the basics.
Learn the basics.
Posted October 01, 2016

Basic Floor Design

When designing a wood floor, a wide range of options and variables are available. While this may be overwhelming for some, making an informed choice is as easy as knowing a few basic floor design principles. While there are many different considerations to take in when creating your floor, an understanding of wood color, board width and board position will help give you an edge in making decisions you’ll be happy with for a lifetime.

Wood Color

With today’s wood flooring options, a wide range of colors and hues are available. Wood color, stain and room lighting all play an important factor in choosing the right color that best represents who you are.

Complement or contrast? To help decide on floor color, take a look at your existing space. What colors and hues are already present? When considering color, it’s best to avoid trying to match the color of your floor with another color in the room. It’s best to look at your existing colors and select a floor color that will complement or contrast. Choosing a complementing colors has a unifying effect for the entire space. For a more dramatic look, contrasting colors can provide a striking effect. Whether you decide to complement or contrast, striking a balance with the rest of the space is important.

The difference between light and dark. Once you’ve decided on a basic color, it’s time to decide if you want to go light or dark. Light colors help to open up a room and give off a more casual look. Darker colors can give a room a more formal look, but can also make a room seem smaller. Be sure to maximize your use of floor samples. Make sure you view the samples at different times of the day and under different lighting situations.

The right look with the right stain. Stains can further enhance the look of your wood. Choosing between light or dark stains will have different effects. If you want to highlight the natural characteristics of the wood, choose a light colored stain. Dark stains help hide a wood’s imperfections, but dust, scratches and debris are easier to see on a dark floor.

Board Width

The physical size of the floor boards also helps to impact how the room feels. The choice in board sizes has increased well beyond the traditional 3” plank. For stunning, modern looks, board width can be 3” or less. Some boards can be 10” wider or more.

Plank vs. Strip. When creating the right dimensions for your floor boards, remember that floor strips are boards 3” or smaller, while planks are boards 3” or greater. Using strips can give you more modern, contemporary feel while the use of planks can evoke a traditional, rustic or country style.

Think about the size of your space. Wide boards used in a big room help to further open up the room, making it appear even bigger. Narrow boards can make a big room feel more inviting. While narrow boards can make a small room seem bigger, avoid using wide boards in a small room to avoid a cramped look.

Mix and Match. For a more dynamic look, consider using boards of mixed widths in a single room. For other embellishments, consider using strips for parquet floors.

Board Positioning

 Once the boards have been selected, the way you install the floor will have another effect on the impact of your room. When planning the direction of the floor boards, you need to consider the construction of the subfloor and the dimensions of the room.

Position boards for stability. For the most stable floor, make sure the floor boards run perpendicular to floor joists. If floor boards run parallel with floor joists, this can lead to a sagging floor and the problem of boards separating.

Room shape is key. A quick and easy design choice is to have the floor boards run parallel to the longest wall in the room. This creates a more natural, fluid look.

Foot traffic and focal points. Make sure the boards run in the same direction as the flow of traffic to avoid a sense of feeling blocked. Another way to help determine board position is to consider sightlines from main entrance points. It is more visually appealing if boards run parallel to the main entrance.

While the possibilities may seem endless, coming up with a floor that amazes you isn’t impossible. Don’t get too caught up with passing fads and trends. When done right with these basic floor design principles, your floor will be able to stand the test of time. 

 If you have more questions about floor design, or if you want to go ahead and build your dream floor, contact a Bona Certified Contractor. Bona Certified Contractors are experts in the field and exclusively use Bona products in every step of the installation process.