How can you match existing hardwood and new hardwood flooring?
Most homes in Westchester County have hardwood floors, at least in some areas of the house. Hardwood flooring is by far the preferred choice of flooring especially in mid to higher end homes.
The trend has been to add hardwood to most areas of the home, and we are often getting calls where customers would like to add wood to places where it’s missing such as the kitchen, entryway, family room or 2nd floor…it all varies based on how your home was constructed.
The good news is that it’s usually fairly easy to match your existing hardwood for a harmonious look.
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Matching new and existing wood – video intro
Here are the factors to consider when matching existing and new hardwood floors:
1. Thickness/height of flooring (and sub-floor)
Most houses in Westchester have solid hardwood flooring which is 3/4″ thick. It’s much easier to match if you have solid hardwood. Note: there are some homes that have engineered hardwood, and this may be very difficult, if not impossible to match unless you know the manufacturer/item (and it is still made). But, most houses here have solid hardwood which is good news both for longevity, flexibility in color and “match-ability.”
It’s important that the new area where you’ll be installing has 3/4″ plywood sub-floor. (Note: if you have a concrete sub-floor this will make it much more difficult (and likely more expensive) to install solid hardwood. You can learn more about this here: Solid vs engineered hardwood.
It’s also smart to check if your sub-floor is consistent in height to the existing sub-floor for the other wood. If it is, your height should be even. If it’s not, you may want to explore removing another layer of plywood or adding some, pending the height difference.
2. Species/grade of hardwood
The next step is to identify the species and grade of the wood. Most homes in Westchester and the East Coast have oak flooring. But, of course, it’s not as simple as that. The first question is whether you have red oak or white oak flooring. These are 2 different species, and you need to match to the correct one. You can learn more about red and white oak flooring here.
Please note that there are other common species of wood such as maple, douglas fir and yellow pine. If your house was built in the 1920’s or before, there is a good chance that you have one of these species. You can learn more about the most common flooring species here.
The next step is to identify the grade of wood. Do you have select grade or No 1 or No 2. There are also other cuts of wood such as rifted and quarter-sawn. You can learn more about hardwood flooring grades in this article.
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This is generally the simplest to figure out. Just take a tape measure and measure the current width of your wood. Most Westchester houses, especially those built before 2000 have the standard 2 1/4″ strips. The standard sizes for solid oak flooring is 2 1/4″, 3 1/4″, 4″ and 5″.
Now, if you would like to do a larger size than what you currently have, this is possible. The decision on this should be based on preference and aesthetics, and this may depend on the area and shape of the room (s) being done.
Most people prefer wider planks as it is more stylish and makes the room look larger. But, in some circumstances this may look out of place if the rest of the floor is 2 1/4″. Here are some times where it can make visual sense to go wider:
- If you are adding hardwood to a different level (e.g. if you have 2 1/4″ on the 1st floor and you are adding wood to the 2nd floor.
- If you are adding wood to the kitchen and you are trying to set it apart and/or going on a diagonal or a different direction for the kitchen. This works in some layouts and not in others. It’s a judgment call.
- If you are adding wood to the Master Bedroom and trying to upgrade it/set it apart. Again, this works in some layouts, but not in others. It also works well when it’s a squarish room and you are laying the wood on a diagonal.
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Generally, if you have oak hardwood flooring, provided that you match the existing species and grade, you can generally refinish the wood to match the stain on the existing portion. (This assumes you hire a professional hardwood sanding company).
Please note that because hardwood darkens over time, it may not be an exact match, but it will be pretty close. Please also note that if you have a custom blend of stains on your floor, it may be more challenging to match, as well as if you have used wax on the floors (note: some cleaning products have wax in them).
Importantly, if you are adding the same species of wood to your floors, you have the option of refinishing all the floors and changing all of the colors so they are uniform. Often you can go lighter or darker, pending your preference. See: Can you change the color of your hardwood floors?
If you’d like to know the most popular stain colors for hardwood floors, read this article.
5. Direction of wood and whether to Weave In
Hardwood should be installed perpendicular to the joists or on diagonal for the best stability. However, occasionally, homeowners make a strategic choice to alter the direction of the wood.
One reason for changing would be to accentuate the longer length of the room (if it’s rectangular. Another reason for this could be if one wants to change the width of the wood in the new area. Or, this could be because the color may be different (and/or it may be slightly different than the existing and changing direction fools the eye). And, a 4th reason for changing direction may be to avoid weaving in the hardwood. This leads into the next choice…
Should you weave in the hardwood to the existing wood? This depends on direction of wood as well as budget and area to be done. There is no one size fits all. If the new wood is parallel to existing wood, this is a non-issue as wood does not need to be woven in; rather, it would just be laid next to existing wood.
But, if the wood is flowing in the same direction, you may want to consider weaving it into the existing wood as it will make your space look larger. Of course, if you do this, you MUST use the same width as the existing hardwood.
(Note: It’s very challenging to weave in new wood if you have pine floors since the woods are milled at different widths vs 100+ years ago so the pieces will not line up).
If you weave in new hardwood, you must sand and refinish the existing room where the new unfinished wood has been woven in. For many, this is not an issue as many may want to change the color and/or it may be time to refinish the existing area due to normal wear and tear. For others, it creates a domino effect and makes the project scope to large.
Obviously, it costs more to weave in wood. There is more labor involved (and you must have someone experienced in this area) and you need more wood to do the job. Plus, you need to refinish a larger area.
Alternatively, you can consider adding a flush saddle (or a full saddle) to separate the new and old areas. If the transition area is a doorway, this looks normal (and may save you money later if you need to refinish one of the areas rather than the whole area).
But, if it’s a long transition (e.g. if it’s an open floor plan from kitchen to family room or dining room), this may look a bit odd. This is a judgment call both in terms of aesthetics and budget. But, remember, this is a permanent change. Once you choose, you can’t easily undo your decision years later. So plan for the long term.
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Pending on above decisions and areas to be done, you may need some transition strips. If the wood is the same height, you may be able to do a flush saddle. Or, a saddle may work better if you have saddles in the doorways (alternatively, a t-molding can be used as that has a much lower height threshold.). If the heights are different between rooms either a reducer or saddle can be used. All of these should be made of matching hardwood so that they look like they belong.
Conclusion on matching new and existing hardwood
If you have solid hardwood, it’s relatively simple for a professional hardwood flooring contractor to match what you have. It’s important to look at height, type, species, grade, width, color and direction of wood.
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For more info, check out my Ebook – Top 6 Hardwood Refinishing FAQ’s.
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Tips on Matching New and Existing Hardwood Floors | Westchester County NY
48 thoughts on “Tips on Matching New and Existing Hardwood Floors”
I have 2 1/4 red oak select grade floor in living room. Looking to rip up tile in entry, kitchen, and dining room. Can I go with 4in rift n quartered red oak? The entry way has a transition point into living room.
Jo – Yes, you can, if you like. It will look different because it’s a different cut. It’s up to you if that bothers you or not. The graining will be different and the color will be slightly different.
I think it helps to make a “different” as you can and if you do it, going 4″ is a good way to do it. You may also consider installing the wood on a diagonal as well.
We currently have 3/8″ red oak in the living room and dining room. We want to put hardwood in the entryway and kitchen, but can we chose a completely different wood type and darker stain? Have you ever seen that work even though there’s large entryways were this will butt up?
I think you are much better off doing solid hardwood in the kitchen and entryway. Engineered hardwood won’t last very long in either. You need to have the ability to refinish them; otherwise, you will have to completely replace them when they get worn down. I would try to find one that is similar in color to what you have (or get unfinished wood and refinish it to a similar color).
I have hardwood floors throughout my house except the kitchen and connected sunroom. I want to put wood-look porcelain tiles in the kitchen/sunroom. I found a matching color but porcelain tiles are 6″X24″. My hardwood planks are 3″X18 1/4″. Will it work?
It’s the color consistency that is most important. It’s find to switch widths/sizes. (And, by the way, you will never find tile planks that match the size of the wood, especially since most wood varies in length and tile just can’t be that long to be practical.
From a previous project, I have about 100 sq feet of 3/4″ x 5″ hand-scraped Hickory. I would like to use it in a room that is about 150 sq ft. Any suggestions on how I might buy a similar floor and combine in the same room?
Kevin – You will have difficulty matching this unless you have the exact same item. And, if you do something close, it will probably look terrible and it may not even fit together at the tongue and groove.
I would probably either buy a new wood, or I would use it as the border for the room and then do the center a completely different color (or vice versa).
I recently added new red oak hardwood after ripping up the tile entryway and kitchen to my existing hardwood floor. Although they were done approx 8 months apart, my existing floors and newly installed floors were applied the same stain (jaco/grey custom) and same finish (water based satin). They look COMPLETELY different. The color of the existing floor is darker/yellowish orange tint in certain lighting and the new floor is much lighter (beautiful by the way) and shows more grain with a much more matte like appearance. The older woods have a shine to them at certain angles. I even had the contractor come back to screen and recoat the original flooring bc the sheen looked way different. Each floor still looks so different. Is my flooring contractor bad at what he does or is this an expected downside of trying to match new and old floors?
First, it will probably never match exactly, no matter what you do. Newer wood is lighter than older wood. It’s also very possible that the old wood was white and the new is red oak. White oak is darker and more yellow and less grainy so that could be the issue. Also, when you mix stains, especially with gray, it doesn’t usually come out the same. (It’s easier when it’s just a mix of darker stains).
My best guess is that you have 2 different species and/or grades. Second choice would be that’s solely due to the aging factor which can’t be controlled.
I hope that helps.
I have red oak floors in my great room upstairs that currently are the old orange red color that red oak often is. I want to cap my stairs with wood treads and white riser. Downstairs I have tile that I want to replace. I am thinking of a sandy whitish wood look tile called Sahara Sand or something like it. Would it look strange for my stair treads to match the upstairs red oak but have a different look downstairs? I don’t know what to do to update the look but embrace the red oak.
If you have tile below, then yes, you should match the wood with what is upstairs. Also, red oak is much more common for stair treads (vs. white oak) as the you need large pieces (and red oak trees grow wider, so it’s easier to find those cuts). If you’re not happy with the color of the wood upstairs, you can change it by sanding and refinishing (even if you do it later).
Have beautiful light oak floors in all bedrooms just had same oak put in hallway to match. Matches perfect. Problem is stairs are painted black with white risers. Bullnose is oak at top of stairs. Suggestion as to what to do with top step so it transitions better.
Vicki -I’m not sure what to advise you. Usually you would have the bullnose be the same color as the oak in the hallway and that is probably your best bet, and then maybe you could refinish the steps to match. I think having the bullnose black would look weird on the 2nd floor. In your situation, I think it looks odder than usual since you black and white. Normally all the stair treads would be the same as the floor color.
We are changing the diningroom from carpet to wood floors. Should the boards run in the same direction to the existing foyer and kitchen or can they be crossways?
Joanne – From a technical standpoint, The boards should be perpendicular to the joists. Chances are that would make them the same direction as the other room. You can choose to run them in the opposite direction if that visually looks better, but if you are parallel to the joists, you will get more separation of the boards and more creaking.
My sister removed a tile area in her kitchen, and filled it in and matched it to the rest of the hardwood flooring. There is a slight hieght difference, maybe 1/16″ to 1/8″. Sand and stain?
Assuming you have solid hardwood, sanding and staining may solve, but she may also need to do a transition piece (same wood) so that it’s safer. Also, she shouldn’t be sanding off an 1/8 of inch. That’s too much and wasting wood and it’s life expectancy. Kitchens wear down faster, so they usually need to be sanded more often. I’d recommend that she call a professional for this.
I have 21/4 oak plank on my stairs leading into a carpeted living room. We are replacing the living and dining rooms with wood. Will a wider, more stylish plank still work? Thank you!
Amy – Oh yes, I think that can work very well and will look better than the 2 1/4″ as long as you do same species/same color. Alternatively, if you are not crazy about the color you have, then do a large color contrast. But be sure to get same species so that later, you can refinish the other area(s) to match.
Hi! We are purchasing a house that already has existing hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, and foyer area. They are in good shape, but we are unsure of the wood type ( the wood has several striations/species with some light and dark tones). We will need to put hardwood floors in the kitchen and family room and to avoid replacing the existing hardwood what would you suggest to have a more uniform flooring throughout? The existing wood is from the 1990s and small plank, but we prefer larger 3/4 planks. Would it be odd to have different size planks where the floor transitions from dining room (old wood) to kitchen (proposed new floors) and foyer (old wood) to kitchen? Thanks!
Hi Kimberly. Sorry about delayed response…I get a lot of comments and somehow this one got buried. I think it’s perfectly fine to use a different/wider plank floor in the new area, as long as same species/color. Regarding what you have now, I can’t help you with that. You’ll need to call in a local professional for that.
We are remodeling a house with 117 yr old maple flooring in the living room. We are going to have it sanded and dyed or stained. We want a wood look for the connecting kitchen and hall but can’t afford hardwood. If we go with engineered, do I pick that flooring out first and have the living room matched to it, or redo the living room first and try to find something that matches that? I’m concerned about whether to get kitchen flooring that is more uniform in color, or one that showed more of the grain?
Valerie – It can be done either way, but bear in mind that no matter which order you do it in, they WON’T match. So, you may want to consider contrasting the two. I would be more inclined to pick out the kitchen floor first and then test stains on the maple next to it to see what you like.
All that aside, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I think it would be MUCH SMARTER to do solid hardwood, especially in a kitchen where it will wear down and need to be refinished. And, you would ideally want to the height to match up with the wood in the other areas. And, if you do engineered now and later switch, you will have a LOT of height issues with appliances.
Often I find that solid hardwood is either similarly priced or less expensive than engineered wood…unless you are doing super cheap engineered wood. And, if you are doing the latter, it won’t last, especially in the kitchen.
We have a house in NJ from 1895 and our contractor was just told that we have spruce floors downstairs. We are trying to lay wood down in the room right next to this floor. Any suggestions? I’m hoping to have them all stained a medium walnut stain (after sanding the existing floor). Your thoughts, please?
Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Spruce floors here in NY. But, I suppose spruce is a type of pine, and probably not very durable. I don’t know what spruce floors even look like, so I don’t know a wood that would be similar. Spruce is very soft, so it wouldn’t be my first choice, and I’m guessing it’s very expensive as you might need to get reclaimed wood. Maybe try heartwood pine which is harder and has similar knots. With the stain it may not be that different. Make sure they use a conditioner.
Hi. We have parquet flooring in living/dining room. I am thinking about adding wood to foyer (to replace tile and minimize flooring types). I would do parquet – but an updated look. Do you have ideas? Thanks
No, I don’t. Parquet is very dated. Also, it doesn’t hold up well in entryways due to all the gaps in the wood. There really isn’t an updated parquet. I suppose if you wanted to spend a LOT of money, you could do fancy parquet (i.e. the older style). It’s extremely expensive and it would probably be less expensive to rip up your existing parquet and replace with regular solid hardwood.
I guess I would replace it with regular solid hardwood and refinish the whole area (including the parquet) in a dark color with a plan to replace the rest when you have more money in the budget.
Sorry as I know this wasn’t the answer you were looking for.
Love your blog-this my go to resource so I am very upset with myself that all my reading/research ended in a fail. We just got our first and second floor done in Bona antique brown with a satin finish. The stairs and 2nd floor are so far apart. 1st floor looks good the 2nd floor is so dark and thick it looks like teriyaki sauce. My contractor is refusing to negonize the difference and blind to issues. I don’t know enough to diagnose the exact problem so it’s hard to argue with. What could have happened? Wish I could send pics
Tim – Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. Maybe you had a different wood on the 2nd floor. If you had oak on 1st floor and some sort of pine/douglas fir on the 2nd, that could explain the difference. And, if so, they should have added a conditioner to close the pores. That may be why.
Hi, thanks for this article. I have a split level house with red oak on the main floor and carpet in the lower floor (which is 4′ below grade). Due to a number of issues with water in the lower level, its time to get rid of the carpet and put in something waterproof. I want to use interlocking vinyl planks but I can’t find anything that matches the existing floor very well. I feel like the right thing to do is go with something completely different so it doesn’t look like a bad match. Do you have any recommendations on what might look nice? The main floor is red oak with a darkish red stain.
I agree, I would contrast it. And, yes, you’ll never find a red to work with it. I would use Coretec Plus and either find some sort of grayish color or else a light oak color (since it’s partially below grade, it may get less light, so light gray or light blonde is probably best.
You may have answered this already, but, if so I didn’t see it. I am trying an old 21/4 red oak floor in my foyer with new red oak in an open floor plan consisting of DR and LR. Some people say it’s impossible to get the exact same width in new wood. They say it looks like you’re “trying to match” and you might as well go with a wider width. Also the old floor will be sanded down and both floors will be stained with Rubio Monocoat pure stain. Do you think they will match?
Rosemary – First, if you in fact have 2 1/4″ inch, the width WILL match. The standard size today (and for the last 80+ years) is 2 1/4″, so that’s not a problem. But, the color will probably not match 100% because newer wood hasn’t aged the same amount as older wood. So, most likely the newer wood would be a bit lighter than the existing wood. If you do a darker stain, it will camouflage the difference more, as will oil based poly. They will probably never match exactly no matter what you do, but they will come pretty close. And, width would have nothing to do with this.
We are inserting 8 feet of glass doors into a wall that was separating a 3-season room from the kitchen. The kitchen and 3 season room floors are the same level. We plan to put in 2 1/4″ wood floors in kitchen one day to match the rest of the house(red oak). Does the sunroom need to match the kitchen floor? We are completely gutting the sunroom so we can choose any flooring. Its a house on the water in NJ. Can you suggest any options? Our contractor is moving along and I can’t figure out what to tell him. Thanks so much!
Christine – It’s completely up to you and how you intend to you the room. If you want it to look continuous with the kitchen, I would do hardwood. If you want to separate it, do something different (e.g. tile, different color hardwood, Coretec Plus. I’m of course assuming the room will be heated thoughout the year. If it isn’t, that will limit your flooring selection greatly, and then probably hardwood, Coretec, ceramic tile are out. But, porcelain could work as it’s frost resistant. Anytime you have a room that may get below 50 degrees, most flooring surfaces can get ruined (e.g. separate, crack, etc.). Check with your contractor on how the room will be heated.
I have 2 1/4 inch white oak in three bedrooms which all open to the hallway. I now want to do living, dining, and hallway (all on the same level) the bedrooms used unfinished and I am considered pre-finished for white oak for the new areas because leaving my house is not an option. Suggestions????
Fitzallen – It’s up to you. First, recognized that unfinished will probably look better and certainly match what you have; prefinished won’t match and you have microbevel edges, so it will be shaped differently. Also recognize that most prefinished oaks are red oak, so you will definitely need to shop around to find white oak and the shade you currently have, so it may be a bit time consuming. Best way would be to go to many hardwood stores.
I would see if there is a way to do your house in 2 stages so that it could be done the right way. Sometimes, there’s a way to do it where you don’t need to leave (if you can put up with the smell), but it’s hard for me to say since I can’t see the layout of your home. Also if you do a high grade water based poly (such as Bona Traffic), it won’t smell as much, especially if you are doing natural, and it will dry faster.
I hope that helps.
Hi there! I am wondering if yo could help me with our situation. We have a 20 year old house that had fir floors throughout, other than kitchen. The fir was stained natural and had many faded/darker spots from furniture and rugs when we moved in, and its tone was an unattractive yellow/orange so we refinished it and stained it special walnut last month. Now we want to replace the slate kitchen floor, with wood but it has a large opening/transition to the existing floor, so getting it to look good together/next to each other is critical. I am concerned about putting more fir in due to the softness (Already couch indentations in family room) and this room will be more frequently used with chairs and stools moving. So my question – what might look best – wider planks, maybe herringbone in a different species stained on sight to match? Thinking the contrast can come in width and pattern? The fir grain looks a lot like hard/heart pine but that is very expensive. Maybe red or white oak with the cut that has longer grain (can’t recall if that is rift or quartered). This is such an important visual point because they are next to each other right in the middle of the house – I am not sure what to do Than you for any advice!
Shannon – Oh yes, this and you will NEVER get it to match, even if you used douglas fir. Pine tends to darken and redden over time, so even if you had same species/grade, it would look much different as it hasn’t aged for years (or potentially for a century or more).
As you noted, it’s a very soft wood and it would not be my first choice for kitchens as it will not hold up well.
So, I would change the species and the width. I would avoid herringbone as it tends to look busy, and you especially don’t want that in a kitchen, where you have so many other things going on (cabinets, counter top, backsplash) and way too many joints between the pieces. and, of course herringbone is more expensive. I would just do harder species and wider planks. If you can change directions, even better (or go diagonal).
If you want to do oak, white oak is a better option then red – both for closer/more cohesive look, and easier to stain in different colors and white oak is a tad harder than red oak, and it’s more resilient to water due to pore/grain structure. If you have vertical grain douglas fir, you could consider doing white oak rifted only to get the a similar linear pattern. (quartersawn will not give you the look). But, rifted only gets more expensive (but prob less expensive than herringbone).
I might look to contrast the color as it will never match not matter what you do.
We have 10 year old walnut engineered wood floors in the kitchen/family room. They look great but have lightened and become more golden. We want to get rid of the carpet in the living room and would like to match with the adjacent family room wood. Nothing seems to match the golden shade. Any ideas what else we can do?
Sara – I don’t think that anything else will match it. That is one of the problems with the woods that are photosensitive. If you get the same thing, eventually they will look more similar. It may take a few years for it to catch up, but most likely after 6 to 12 months, it would be closer in color. Any other species won’t match the graining and doubtful it will match the color.
I have Pecan Wood flooring on my main floor (covering foyer, living, dining/kitchen/sunroom). I have carpet on the lower ground floor level (family room) and top level (bedrooms. I want to replace the carpet on the bottom level, 3 flights of stairs, and master bedroom suite. The closest wood flooring to pecan appears to be hickory. However, I cannot I cannot find the same color and my existing wood floors have yellowed. I would like to find a darker wood that matches one of the recurring patterns in my existing Pecan floors. I am also thinking of installing tile on the bottom level since the base floor is cement. I’ve been contemplating this for two years. I don’t know what to do as I know whatever I decide upon cannot be undone. I would appreciate any suggestions you may have.
Gaynell – Yes, unfortunately pecan flooring is very challenging to match. This is yet another reason to stick with more tradtional woods. My best suggestion to match is to get unfinished pecan and then sand and refinish it to match the color. Note: this may be expensive since Pecan is not very common/popular.
On the lower level, you get moisture, so I would avoid hardwood and instead look at a product like Coretec Plus (which is waterproof) and perhaps go with a completely different color so it doesn’t look like it’s trying to match. It’s very common to have a different flooring and color on lower levels. Or, tile can work too, but it’s cold and hard on your feet.
On steps, you will probably want to do oak hardwood…if you try pecan, it will probably be next to impossible to find treads in pecan and prohibitively expensive. So, I would probably get oak and stain to match. and, then, maybe get a carpet runner.
I hope this helps.
Thank you so much for responding to my question. This is the best advice I’ve received since I started considering this effort two years ago.
Gaynell – Oh good. I’m so glad to hear that. That means a lot to me.
Thank you so much for sharing this useful tips. Do you have any idea which type of wood furniture is compatible with red oak parquet? Thank you in advance…
Vilko – This really depends on the stain of your floors. If you go dark, virtually all types will work as dark is much more neutral and you don’t have a many competing colors. Parquet tends to have more color variation and the floors look busier.
The good news overall is that wood is pretty neutral and people mix woods all the time and it looks good/fine, but if you can go darker with the wood, it will generally look better.