From white-washed bleaches to pretty patterns and wide planks to going gray, the top trends in wood flooring offer an exciting degree of variety for homeowners considering a remodeling project.
Two-thirds of American homeowners said they would choose to have wood floors in their dream home, according to a recently commissioned survey by the National Wood Flooring Association. With so many other options, why does wood flooring continue to attract attention?
"Wood is durable, attractive, easy to clean and can add significant value to a home," said Michael Martin, president and chief executive officer of the National Wood Flooring Association. "Whether your home is traditional or contemporary, brand new or centuries old, wood floors offer endless design possibilities to fit your style. When properly installed and maintained, wood floors can last for hundreds of years, making them a great value."Walk the plank
Traditional strip wood flooring remains popular, but wide plank is the market leader. Planks of up to 7 inches in width are considered normal now, Martin said.
"The width of the plank should really be taken into account based on the size of the room — in some cases the wider boards may make the room appear larger, while dwarfing the appearance of the room in other cases," Martin said.The trend is a classic old-is-new-again story.
"Some of the oldest wood floors still being renovated today are wide planks — upwards of 12 to 16 inches. The plank flooring option has been around for as long as wood flooring has been installed," Martin said.
Long boards and low-gloss finishes remain in high demand, as are gray colors and cerused finishes, which show a clear contrast between the soft and hard grains of the wood, Martin said.
Homeowners are moving away from honey, blonde and yellow finishes, he said.
"Light floors have continued to be popular, with whites, greys and even a darker base with the cerused or limed overtones to lighten the overall look," Martin said.Pattern and detail
Eye-catching patterns are also in demand, such as classic herringbone and chevron, as well as simple parquet patterns.
"Parquet flooring varies in size and generates a geometric, non-linear look. This can be a great way to achieve a unique flooring style in a home. Also, the addition of a simple border or even a customized medallion, or using a variety of media, such as stone, cork or leather in conjunction with the wood floor," Martin said.
Representing about 67 percent of the market domestically, white and red oak are expected to remain the market leaders, Martin said.
"Oak is widely available, has a reasonable cost and can be very versatile from a styling standpoint. In addition, if there is a desire to change the look of the floor at a later time, oak responds well to stain, which could create an entirely new look," Martin said.
The distressed floor styles that have been popular in recent years are now joined by lightly textured surfaces, Martin said.
"Character marks such as knots and mineral streaks are often desired and left in the material, promoting a more natural appearance. Overall, there is a general shift toward the use of domestic species as opposed to species imported from other countries," he said.How to tell wood from faux wood
"There is a lot of confusion in the market right now about flooring products that look like wood, but are not real wood," Martin said.
Wood look-alike products may include laminate, tile, plastic composite and vinyl plank flooring, but a wood floor is defined as any flooring product that contains real wood as the top-most, wearable surface of the floor, according to the National Wood Floor Association.
It includes solid wood flooring, engineered wood flooring and composite engineered wood flooring.
Some of the main differences to look for include repetitive patterns (wood doesn't have identical repeats), texture, smell and how it feels and sounds when walking across it, Martin said. Also, look at the seams between planks to determine a real wood grain or a picture wrap.