2021 Flooring Trend Report – Hardwood, Carpet, Tile, Luxury Vinyl and more
2021 is almost here, so it’s time to publish my annual report on Flooring Trends. This report covers all flooring surfaces including hardwood, carpet, tile, luxury vinyl and more. If you are specifically looking for hardwood flooring trends, check out this guide: Hardwood Flooring Trends which covers the trending stain colors, finishes and styles for wood flooring.
Over the years, I’ve read a number of flooring trend reports and paint trends, and I have to say at times, I’m just disappointed. Sometimes, the reported “trends” are not really trendy at all. They are instead niche products and many products are often on the decline. (By the way, it does may me wonder if these writers are getting paid by manufacturers to push products or if they are just out of touch).
Some of the paint trend reports also make me wonder…are they just trying to sell more paint? (I think we know the answer to that). I mean who really puts these paint colors in their homes? Some are just too bright and taste specific, and not practical at all.
This report is based on real people in real homes and what I’m actually seeing people choosing and installing in their homes. It’s also based on thousands of comments and questions I get on my blog. Real trends for real people.
When it comes to flooring, most people want something that is stylish and practical…and not something that is too trendy and may fade out in a few years. Flooring is the foundation for your home decor, and you don’t want to have to replace it every few years.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Trends for floors in 2021 and beyond
1. Hardwood…almost everywhere
Yes, hardwood continues to grow and it is the preferred surface in most rooms. In fact, many homeowners are converting their kitchen floors and entryways (as well as powder rooms to hardwood floors (see: What is the best type of flooring for kitchens? This covers the top 9 options with pros and cons for each).
Here’s what’s trending with hardwood flooring.
- Cool colors – dark browns, gray, light (without the yellow), white washes
- Wide planks
- Matte and satin finishes
- Environmentally friendlier finishes (e.g. Bona Traffic – read more here: What are the best brands of polyurethane?)
You can read more about hardwood flooring in my Hardwood Flooring Trends article.
2. Hardwood look-alike materials
As further evidence of the trend and preference towards hardwood flooring, it’s super interesting that now we have more and more alternative products that mimic the look (and sometimes the feel) of hardwood flooring. The 2 biggest areas are tile planks that look like hardwood and Engineered Vinyl Planks that look and feel like hardwood.
Both of these products are waterproof. So, they are often used in areas that may have water or moisture (e.g. kitchens, bathrooms, basements) and on top of concrete sub-floors where it may be difficult, inappropriate and too expensive to install solid hardwood flooring.
The technology has gotten so good that it can replicate the look of real wood on to the surfaces. For an even more authentic look and feel, many have embossed grainy textures and distressed styles. And, it’s often more affordable to get these colors and looks in the “look alike” items.
Tile/porcelain that looks like hardwood
These products have been on the rise because they look like hardwood and they are waterproof at the same time. Cooler colors such as whites, grays, espressos are most popular. And, now the technology has improved so much that we see styles that are distressed and reminiscent of reclaimed wood, but updated in color and style for a blend of rustic and contemporary together.
Engineered Vinyl Planks/Luxury Vinyl that looks like wood
This wins the gold star for being the breakout trend for the year. Coretec Plus invented this new category 5 or 6 years and it’s been growing and breaking records each year. Early adopters loved it because it looks and feels so real…and because it’s WATERPROOF. It also has a cork underlayment for some extra cushioning and insulation. It’s an absolutely amazing product and technical breakthrough.
Now the product has become mainstream and there are many knock-offs as so many manufacturers are jumping on the band wagon. The category continues to explode because it meets a real need. It looks and feels amazing, and it’s a floating floor which means that it can go on top of virtually any type of surface, including tile, as long as the surface is flat and level.
Furthermore, for the handy do-it-yourselfer, this is a project you can do on your own.
For more info about this product, including how it works, color selection, how to install it and where to buy it and my review of the product, check out these 2 articles:
3. Cool toned colors
Cool colors and in and warm colors are out. This seems to be true both for flooring and paint colors (and yes, the two go hand in hand). Cool color tones include grays, blues, greens, etc. and Warm color tones include yellow, oranges and reds (think colors of the sun).
- Dark browns (without traces of red or yellow undertones)
- Grays, concrete and industrial looks for tiles (and counter tops)
- Grays over beiges for carpets and walls
- Bleached and blanched colors – ashy white washed looks, works with farmhouse and country styles as well as a modern contemporary lookIndustrial and concrete looks for tiles (and counter tops)
Helpful articles for stain and paint color trends:
- Hardwood flooring trends
- Most popular shades of gray paint
- Hardwood Stain Color Trends
- Best paint colors if you’re selling your house
4. Area rugs are on the rise
As the preference for hardwood and other hard surfaces rises, the demand for area rugs also grow. Area rugs add design flair and often color to your room. They are often the centerpiece for a room. The most popular colors are gray, followed by navy as the base color. And, often many like to decorate with a pop color.
One of the great things about area rugs is that you can always replace it with a new one (along with pillows) in the future and give your room a mini makeover for a very low price. And, while you’re at it, you may paint an accent wall to bring out that pop color for a unifying theme in the room.
Helpful area rug articles:
- The 10 best places to buy area rugs online
- Best gray area rugs for under $200
- Affordable navy area rugs and size guidelines
5. Environmentally friendly finishes
Over the last several years, I’ve seen more and more people asking about and gravitating towards more environmentally friendly finishes. In particular, many customers prefer Bona Traffic HD because it has very low VOC’s, has incredibly high durability, has low odor and also doesn’t amberize (i.e. turn yellow) like oil based poly does.
I am also seeing a slight uptick in requests for monocoat or oiled finishes, but most are shying away from this as it’s higher maintenance, more expensive and doesn’t protect the floors from water/spills.
While other articles state that there’s a trend towards cork, linoleum and other green products, I’m just not seeing that. There’s a minor uptick, but I would not call it a trend nor even a strong preference. These products are still rather niche and don’t have that wide of an appeal.
Cork and linoleum are certainly good options for some situations, especially if going green is a priority or if someone in the house has allergies or asthma. But many don’t like the looks of these products and instead opt for other flooring products that meet their needs and have wider appeal (e.g. solid hardwood flooring.
- Best types of flooring for allergies and asthma
- What is the best air purifier if you have asthma or allergies?
Want to see the floor cleaning products I recommend? This is my first choice vacuum for hardwood floors, the best steam mop for tile floors and best hardwood floor cleaner. You can see all my recos on my Amazon Influencer page.
6. Carpet runners and carpet tiles
While carpet is still very prevalent, it seems to be on the decline and isn’t usually people’s first choice for main living areas. Instead the preference is for hardwood or other hard surfaces. Some people, especially those in cooler climates prefer carpet for the bedrooms and others prefer hardwood (it seems to be around a 50/50 split here in New York). But, the two areas that carpeting is high demand are 1) area rugs (see above) and 2) carpet runners for the steps.
Carpet runners have become both an important fashion statement and also an important safety precaution. Now that people are ripping up the carpet on the steps, they notice that the steps have become slippery (and loud). Carpet runners are important for everyone in the family including our 4 legged friends (yes, the most common reason for installing runners is for safety and comfort for their dogs).
Runners are also important for toddlers, pregnant women, older adults…and well honestly everyone. They will also reduce the noise in the house, cover imperfections in the steps (especially if you have an older home) and help avoid the need to refinish your steps.
The other place where some families prefer carpet is in dens/family rooms and basements when these on on the lower levels of the home, especially if these rooms are on top of concrete slab. In cooler climates, the carpet will keep the area warmer. Interestingly enough, I’m seeing growth of carpet tile for these areas. Sometimes, it’s fun and colorful carpet tiles for a playroom area. Other times, it’s more neutral colors. You buy extra carpet tiles so when areas get dirty (or worn down by the entryway) they can easily be replaced. Carpet tiles are a soft surface that acts more like a hard surface in terms of looks and durability.
7. Farmhouse style
It’s unbelievable to watch this farmhouse style trend growing and blossoming. For years, there’s been a desire for nostalgia and return to a simpler life, and it’s exhibited itself in many ways. For the floors, it’s been more about a rustic and distressed look with wider planks and often reclaimed wood. Now, it’s evolved to softer and more subtle color palettes for the floors and walls. You see more grays and gray mixes and more subtle distressing (vs. previously, hand-scraped and warm colors were more popular.
Anyone who’s seen Joanna and Chip Gaine’s Fixer Upper has seen her decor style as she’s brought things up a notch. Before her show, almost no one had heard of shiplap, and now you see it everywhere, especially on pinterest, houzz and many online stores (see 8 ways to incorporate shiplap into your home for a modern farmhouse look).
Now that people are adding more texture and visual intrigue to the walls, it’s even more important to keep the floors in the main living areas simpler for better balance. Hence, the more neutral colors and reduced texture on the floors.
For smaller rooms, such as bathrooms or powder rooms, again inspired by Joanna Gaines, black and white tiles and mosaics are making a comeback. These are nostalgic and bring back memories of decades and centuries past. These bold graphic designs capture your eye as the pattern unfolds in front of your eyes.
The patterns are delicate, flowery and geometric. I see them most often in bathrooms, but they are also used on backsplashes and small entryways. These tiles are sometimes challenging to find in local stores, but you can find a variety of these tiles as well as delicate black and white mosaics here on Wayfair.com. Or you can click on below pictures.
Other farmhouse articles:
What won’t stand the test of time. Types of floors that are out of style (and declining) for 2021 – Flooring that will date your home
While I’m on the topic of trends, I’m also going to share what’s out of style (or reverse trending). Many of these items mistakenly appear in floor trends posts (and note: these articles are not written by flooring companies…usually the flooring companies know what’s trending because they have first hand experience). Many of these items will date your home. And, you’ll also see that many of these are not very practical…and hence they are on the decline.
- Bamboo – Not durable. Scratches and dents easily. Doesn’t hold up to water.
- Parquet – Ultra dated. Separates over time. Looks sloppy and makes space look smaller.
- Reds and warm colors – These colors are out of style (but they may come back in a decade or so). These are harder to decorate with, too.
- Multi-width planks – Not practical as they will date your home. Most prefer clean lines and simple formats. It’s easy to refinish hardwood and make it a different color, but the multi-widths will always be there. These will be like those multi-width pegged floors – dated.
- Multi-size tiles – These have been dated for a while.
- Wide grout lines – Very dated. Grout gets dirty and is more likely to crack with wider grout lines.
These are the trends I’ve been seeing and they’ve all been growing over the last 5 years or so. Not only do I see these trends in homes, but I also see them on the TV shows, magazines, online decor sites. And, I can see these trends growing on the pages of my website.
What’s your favorite trend? Leave me a comment or question below.
If you live in Westchester County NY, I offer color consultations to advise customers on paint colors and stain choices. My designer discount at the paint stores usually more than offsets the cost for the hour consultation. Read more here. Due to many requests, I’m now starting to offer phone consultations, too.