Hardwood Flooring Trends

Hardwood Flooring Trends – Treasure Valley

First, we understand that different home owners have different tastes when it comes to style, color choices, and different types of wood in different styles of homes. We generally advise our clients to do what they prefer and works for their home (and budget) unless they are selling their house, in which case it makes sense to go with what the majority of buyers in a neighborhood prefer. But, assuming you are planning to stay and live in your home, choose what works best for you.

Second, this hardwood trend observation is based on what we see at Integrity Hardwood Floors. This is divided into two sections: Hardwood Color Preferences and Hardwood Style Trends. , There are other trends we can review and will update as we go into 2016.

Hardwood Color Preferences

Dark Hardwood Floors

Darker floors are now gaining in popularity, especially among higher end homes. They give a contemporary and classic look. The two popular stains are Ebony (darkest and coolest) and Jacobean (a very dark brown, but a tad warmer than ebony). We have many customer who opt for a 50/50 blend of Jacobean and Ebony for a deep and rich tone. This color is often called espresso. There is a nice Coffee Brown, not to mention numerous other colors…

Dark floors do make a statement, and they are perfect for highlighting white kitchen cabinets (which are currently the most popular selection).

Dark floors can be a bit more challenging to clean and maintain as they tend to show dirt and scratches a bit more. On the other hand, dark can camouflage older floors’ imperfections (e.g. wood with pet or water stain, gaps in floors, etc.

Natural Hardwood Floors

Wait a minute, we just said Dark Hardwood Floors and now your say Natural… Yes, most of the refinished and installs are kept natural. Not the “old yellow” natural but color of the real hardwood. This is times, elegant and easy to maintain.

You cannot go wrong with a natural finished hardwood floor, it is a strong go to. This is what hardwood is meant to look like and when finished with quality finished that natural beauty warms the house.

Gray Hardwood Floors

Yes, gray is still popular… after all, it’s the “new neutral.” Gray has been hip and trending other areas for a while – paint, tile, appliances, carpet, etc, so hardwood was a natural choice. For hardwood, it started with pre-finished hardwood, but now we have many higher end customers asking us to sand & refinish their floors then stain gray.

It’s a sleek and stylish look and creates drama as it’s a little bit different and unexpected. Gray is a great base as it’s not overpowering, so it doesn’t fight with the other colors in your home and allows you accent key elements. Some prefer lighter gray, some darker gray, and if it’s refinished on site, you can test and experiment with the colors by altering the mixture of white and ebony.

Gray hardwood flooring is more expensive to achieve as getting the color balance right is a bit tricky (make sure you select someone experienced in this area), and you need to use a water based poly so that that floors don’t yellow. It’s also better to use a higher grade of polyurethane such as Bona Traffic HD for the optimal look, highest durability and no amnbering.

Matte Finish

The Matte sheen is by far the most popular, especially among home owners in the Treasure Valley. A Matte sheen is more stylish and they are very practical as they tend to look better longer, and they show dents, scratches and dirt less than gloss sheen. We have seen more interest in a low sheen Satin as long as it is not too shiny….

Water-based vs Oil

Here in Idaho we take pride in our quality of life and it shows in our investments to continuously improve. Indoor air quality is very important and recent laminates that off gas formaldehyde has brought this to light.

We see a lot of “poison”, our name of acid cured finishes. They yellow the floor, off gas poison of 30 to 60 days. Not healthy for anyone. Today we see the desire to use water-based solutions but they have to be durable. This topic along is an educational document in itself. We’ll start on that soon.

Hardwood Style Trends

Wider Planks

Wider planks make your space look larger. They also look more contemporary (and very wide planks can look authentic and rustic). Most customers who are installing new hardwood prefer to go wider in the planks, even if it’s just a bit wider than standard (or basic) 2 1/4″ strip. It is amazing how big an impact just switching from a 2 1/4″ to 3 1/4″ or 5″ plank can make. In some settings wider planks such as 5″, 6″ or 7″ can really make a big statement. The trend is clear – wider and wider and wider.

Site Finished Hardwood vs. Pre-Finished

In the Boise area, site finished wood is on the return over prefinished hardwood in terms of style and maintenance. Most prefer the cleaner, smoother edges and more contemporary look. It also gives your home a more authentic look (vs. prefinished hardwood will often show the edges of the base wood color underneath.

Site finished wood is easier to clean (dirt tends to get stuck in micro-bevel edges) and is more resilient to water (often the edges of prefinished wood are not fully covered with finish while site finished floors are sanded smooth and flat and then coated evenly with the poly). This is especially important in heavier traffic areas and areas with more water/moisture such as kitchens and entryways.

Another benefit of site finished wood is the ability to customize the color to one’s taste. Stains can be tested (and even mixed) on-site before finalizing color decisions. In addition, it’s much easier to match colors from room to room, if you have hardwood in some areas already and are now adding to a new area.

In the picture on the right, you can see the micro-beveled edges a bit (it is much more apparent in person vs the photo) vs. the photo above which is smooth as it is site finished.. In many prefinished woods, you can see the lighter color oak in the grooves (but of course you won’t see that in the professional photos that have been touched up).

Reclaimed or Distressed Hardwood Floors

There’s been a trend towards authenticity and an “old world” look. These woods celebrate the natural character of hardwood and its imperfections. One way to achieve this antique look is through reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is very in vogue now and its eco-friendly. Some is salvaged from old beams and antique flooring, or logs salvaged from rivers and lakes.

Reclaimed wood is in high demand and very short supply, and hence it is very expensive. To achieve a similar effect but lower price, hand-scraped woods and machined distressed provide other options. These floors look old and worn but for a fraction of the price. The trend tends to be towards a “less stressed” look.

Domestic “American” Hardwood

Hardwoods that are grown and made in America seem to be most popular. Part of this may be a preference for supporting local companies to help support our economy and a reaction to some of the lower quality imported materials.

But, I think a larger part of it is goes back to the desire for authentic styles and colors as well as a desire for uniformity within the house. These woods (oak, hickory, maple) tend to hold up well to foot traffic as they hide the scratches better. This may also be partially driven by more affordable costs as well as a desire to be more eco-friendly, Another advantage are these hardwood are from our environment and do better with our seasons.

Maybe there are no real trends, just maybe we like what we like, enjoy your hardwood floors and live on them.