2015 Hardwood flooring and Stain Trends – Westchester New York
This article summarizes the 10 major hardwood flooring trends for 2015. Hardwood floors are the preferred flooring surface for Westchester County NY as well as Northeast and Mid Atlantic states. Hardwood will never go out of style as it’s authentic, renewable, stylish and hard wearing. Since it’s the aspirational choice by more home buyers, I thought it would be helpful to look at the long-term and emerging trends for this popular flooring surface.
Please note that different customers have different tastes when it comes to style and color choices, and different woods work in different styles of homes. I generally advise my customers 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.
This hardwood trend report is divided into 3 sections: 1) Hardwood Color preferences, 2) Hardwood style trends, 3) Where hardwood is emerging as a preferred flooring surface and surpassing tile.
Update: Hot off the presses…Check out the 2017 Hardwood flooring trend report.
Hardwood Color and Sheen trends for 2015:
1. Dark hardwood floors
Yes, dark is in! It’s all about da
bass brown. Dark floors continue to grow in popularity, especially among higher end homes. They give a contemporary and classic look. The 2 most popular stains are ebony (darkest and coolest) and jacobean (a very dark brown, but a tad warmer than ebony). I 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.
Dark floors 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.
You can read more about dark hardwoods here:
2. Gray Hardwood floors
Yes, gray is hot…after all, it’s the “new neutral.” Gray has been hip and trending other areas for a while – paint, tile, appliances, carpet, etc, so it was only a matter of time before it hit hardwood. For hardwood, it started with pre-finished hardwood, but now I have many higher end customers asking me to sand & refinish their floors 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 for the optimal look, highest durability and least yellowing. You can read more about gray hardwood flooring in this article. Gray floors are especially popular among couples moving from NYC.
3. White Wash
Yes, I know this will be hard for some of you to believe, but white washed floors are making a comeback. I know what you’re thinking…7 or 8 years ago, this was so 80’s. But, now it’s hot again. The trend seems to be driven in part by the gray trend and in part by high end beach resorts in the Hamptons and now the Jersey Shore. NYC often starts the trends and this is becoming bigger there, so it’s naturally migrating to Westchester County NY as we have so many who move here from the City and work in the City. It’s especially popular with wider plank flooring and when home owners are trying to add light as well as well as modernity to the home.
4. Satin finishes
Satin finishes are by far the most popular, especially among home owners in Westchester County and the New York area. Satin finishes are more stylish and they are very practical as they tend to look better longer, and they show dents, scratches and dirt less than semi-gloss finishes. The lower luster also shows footprints less. You can read more about finishes in this article and video clip. What type of sheen level is most popular – satin or shiny?
So those are the most popular color and sheen levels for hardwood. To read more on stain trends check out this article – Hardwood stain color trends
For more info, check out my Ebook – Top 6 Hardwood Refinishing FAQ’s.
Hardwood styles and types of wood for 2015 – styles and species
5. 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 then 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.
6. Site finished hardwood rather than pre-finished hardwood
In the Westchester and New York area, site finished wood is strongly preferred 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. pre-finished 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 pre-finished wood are not fully covered with polyurethane 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 pre-finished 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).
You can read more about this here – Pre-finished vs Unfinished hardwood.
7. Vintage hardwood and distressed hardwood (reclaimed look)
There’s been a clear 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 it’s 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. You can get some great authentic handscraped hardwoods from FastFloors here in the Anderson Virginia Vintage Line. They have both solid and engineered woods.
Distressed woods tends to be more popular in the south and west. Here, in the New York area, where we have some homes with authentic old world wood (as we have many houses from the 1700’s and 1800’s), most go for the real thing or opt for the newer Modern Vintage Hardwood (see below).
8. Modern Vintage Hardwood – Old world meets new
The newest twist on vintage is what I’m terming “modern vintage hardwood.” It’s a blend of old and new. The planks are very wide (typically 7″ or wider). The colors are muted and often highlight the mineral streaks and natural character and flaws of the wood. Often, the finishes are oil rubbed or wire-brushed. The low gloss finish gives these planks a unique and weathered look.
The pictures above are from Shaw’s Castlerock line and leverage the hot gray and white washed colors. As they say, “What’s old is new again.”
The pictures below are from US Floors Navarre Line: and feature more traditional colors. Both lines have planks that are at least 7″ wide. You can buy these online via FastFloors.com here, if you are outside NY/CT area. (If you’re here, call us).
I have also been seeing this style in furniture as well – dining room tables and coffee tables. West Elm has a nice selection of these types of woods.
9. American hardwoods – Domestic grown and made in the US are the clear preference
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 by being responsible to the environment and preferring lower shipping cost. This article on domestic american grown hardwoods goes into the species with a bit more detail.
10. Strong preference for solid hardwood over engineered wood
Here in the New York area, there is a strong preference for solid hardwood. Solid hardwood ultimately lasts longer as it can be sanded and refinished multiple times. Often, solid hardwood will last for well over 100+ years. For a period, engineered hardwood was starting to make strong in roads, especially when the economy was worse (as there are some less expensive engineered hardwood floors).
While engineered flooring may provide a practical option in areas with concrete sub-floors (e.g. some apartments, basements), many have realized that if they have a plywood sub-floor, solid hardwood flooring is much better long term solution. Solid hardwood generally looks better and will last much longer (vs. engineered hardwood floors that often need to be fully replaced after it gets worn down.) Since solid hardwood can be refinished (and you can change the color), it gives home owners more flexibility, especially if they have kids or pets. You can refinish when the floors get worn down or if you want to change the color. This is even more important for heavy traffic areas such as the 1st floor, kitchens, hallways and entry areas.
Where hardwood is surpassing tile for rooms in the house in 2015 and beyond
a. Hardwood flooring for kitchens
I would be remiss in not mentioning that hardwood is now the most popular type of flooring for kitchens, especially here on the East Coast. Evidence of this can be found in all the home decor magazines as popular sites such as houzz.com and Pinterest. Solid hardwood floors have a lot of benefits over tile.
First, they are easier on your feet, as well as warmer.
Secondly, they make your space look larger (assuming you have hardwood in adjoining rooms).
Third, they last longer (often 100+ years) and improve the value of your home (as they are more universally liked vs tile which is very taste specific…hardwood can always be refinished to change the color vs. tile needs to be replaced). Fourth, hardwood generally costs less than tile (while improving your home’s value more). Fifth, they are easier to clean and maintain.
You can read more about both the pros and cons with hardwood and tile in kitchens.
b. Hardwood flooring for entryways
For entryways, more and more people prefer hardwood flooring. By converting tile (or even vinyl) in entryways to hardwood, it helps make the space look larger, provided that it is the same color as the rest of the hardwood flooring. It can also be cost effective to do this work if you are refinishing the floors in other areas.
c. Hardwood flooring for powder rooms
As many are converting kitchens and entryways to hardwood, they are also converting powder rooms on the first floor to be hardwood so that they are consistent with the rest of the hardwood. This also helps make the space look larger, and it becomes more practical to combine as one project. While I would never recommend hardwood flooring for a regular bathroom (i.e one that has a shower or bathtub or both), hardwood can be a very practical and stylish option for powder rooms. (Stylish tile can also look nice here, too…it’s just nice to know that both option options can work, pending on your preference).
Hardwood flooring polls:
Let us know what you think. Take a minute and vote in the below polls. You can also view the results of the collective audience.
1. What types of stain colors do you prefer for hardwood?
2. What type of flooring do you prefer for the kitchen?
For more info, check out my Ebook – Top 6 Hardwood Refinishing FAQ’s.
Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors
- Here’s my latest hardwood trend post 2016 Hardwood flooring trends.
- Here’s my guide on 2015 Carpet Trends.
- Recommended cleaning products and accessories to maintain floors and reduce scratches.
Hardwood flooring and Stain Trends for 2015 – Westchester New York