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Hardwood Flooring Trends for 2021

17 trendy styles for hardwood floors – The definitive guide to most popular 2021 wood flooring trends

Hardwood flooring continues to grow in popularity, and it is by far the preferred flooring type for homes. Ironically, this is followed by all sorts of products trying to mimic the look of hardwood flooring, regardless of whether it’s porcelain tile that looks like wood, engineered vinyl planks, or a whole slew of other knock-offs.

Hardwood flooring trends 2021


But still, most people want the real thing…REAL HARDWOOD. It’s stylish, comfortable, warm, timeless, natural and lasts for over a century.


Hardwood makes a house a home, and you can refinish hardwood over the years to change the color and style as fashion trends and preferences change. For all of these reasons, most homeowners prefer the real deal…and love that it also improves the value of their home at the same time.


Hardwood flooring trends 2021As I’ve mentioned in previous floor trend articles, different people have different tastes, and it’s more important to choose something you like rather than something on trend. (Of course doing both is ideal). There are different style homes and different decors, so choose what you love and what works with your home.


Floors are the foundation of your home and set the tone for your color palette and decorating style. You want to get this right as good floors will last a lifetime…and then some. Paint colors and accent colors, as well as styles, may come and go, but good hardwood floors will be there for over a century.


You will also see that some of of these trends are a bit contradictory (e.g. both very dark and very light stain colors are most stylish). Again, this goes back to different types of homes and different strokes for different folks.


Not all colors work in all homes, and you also need to consider your overall decor theme (including paint color for walls and furniture), so choose something that you love…and anticipate you will love for a long time.


So I wanted to share the latest trends in hardwood flooring for 2021. This 2021 wood flooring trend post is organized as follows:

  1. Hardwood flooring stain and color trends
  2. Hardwood floor sheens/finishes and textures
  3. Hardwood floor materials and style trends

Video: Hardwood floor trends for 2020-2021

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2021 Hardwood Floor Stain and Color Trends

2021f trends for hardwood floorsOverall, there’s a shift towards darks and lights (yes, the two extremes), as well as cooler and browner tones. Redder and warmer tones are less popular and more polarizing.


1. Dark and cool toned hardwoods

Hardwood flooring trends for 2021Yes, the trend towards darker colors keeps growing and growing. It’s been on the rise for the last decade or so. We seem to find two types of customers:


1) Ones that prioritize style over maintenance and they tend to go darker and darker (these customers tend to be households without kids (either “pre-kids” or kids that have gone to college) or wealthier households that have extra help to keep the floors extra clean).


2) Those that absolutely love dark floors, but want to go a bit lighter so that the floors are easier to maintain.


Either way, one thing is consistent: Cool tones are strongly preferred. There is a strong move away from warmer tones (e.g. reds, red/brown blends or yellow undertones) and a preference towards browns that are more pure and cooler (i.e no red undertones).


Cool tones are preferred both the walls (especially grays) and floors, and these work hand in hand together. I even see some customers blending in a touch of gray to the dark browns (both to lighten it a bit and to add coolness and depth to the color.


2021 hardwood trends - true black dark floorsFor those looking to go darker and darker, they are generally blending ebony/dark walnut (i.e. a 50/50 blend), ebony/jacobean or trying out the new true black. True Black is the newest stain from Duraseal, and as the name implies, it’s truly the blackest stain you can use – it’s more opaque for a darker look and more modern feel as it hides most of the graining you find in oak.


The picture above is True Black. It’s often a good solution if you find that you have a mixture of wood species in your home as it camouflages the differences more. But, true black floors do show every bit of dust, so be aware of this.


dark hardwood floors | 2021 trends for hardwood floorsDarker floors are a bit more challenging to clean and maintain. You may find this article I just wrote helpful: 10 tips to clean and maintain dark hardwood floors. For those looking to go dark, but a bit lighter (either due to preference or for easier maintenance), try dark walnut, antique brown, coffee brown or special walnut (or a blend of these).

Related articles:

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2. Gray and gray blends (including charcoals, greiges and brown/grays)

Gray hardwood floors - 2021 hardwood flooring trends Yes, gray, gray and more gray. Gray flooring has been on the rise, and you can see it everywhere you go – in wood, tile that looks like wood, and gray vinyl planks that look like wood. I think I started to notice the trend and demand for gray hardwood flooring around 2010 or 2011. First, I really only saw this in pre-finished (or factory made wood), and it wasn’t until 2012 or so when I started to get lots of local customers ask us to refinish their existing floors and turn them gray.


gray hardwood flooring - wire brushed - Hardwood flooring trends for 2019I finally blogged about how to refinish gray hardwood flooring (the right way) in 2013. Of course, refinishing your hardwood floors gray isn’t a simplest task, and you really need to have an expert who has refinished many floors gray (and yes, over the years I’ve gotten tons of calls from homeowners who hired a contractor who can’t do this…and they find out in the middle of the job).


hardwood floor color trends 2021Check out below article to find out the best way to do it. (Hint: it is NOT by using the gray stains from Minwax or Duraseal). Oh, and you also need to use Bona Traffic HD for the polyurethane.

Related article: How to sand and refinish your hardwood to make it gray


DuraSeal's new gray stain lineOver the last 2 to 3 years, we’ve been seeing more variations on the grays where people will blend in some browns for a gray/beige (or greige) look. We are also also seeing a lot of variations where grays are subtly integrated with dark browns and even blacks/ebonies.


To address this need, Duraseal just introduced 6 new gray variations to their Inspired line. These are really cool. You have to see them in person because some of them look different in different lights for a really modern and subtle gray sheen.


With these stains, you will want to use Bona Traffic HD water-borne poly to maintain the gray color and avoid the yellowing that you would see with an oil based poly.



✅ This Painting and Flooring Planner will organize your paint shades, finishes and flooring choices by room.


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3. Light, natural and muted

light hardwood flooring 2021 tendsYes, on the opposite extreme to dark, the 2nd most popular floor choice is light – i.e. going natural. But the theme is a consistent one. There’s a preference to drown out the yellows and go for cooler tones. Hence those that are more up on the trends are going for the high grade and more environmentally friendly water borne polyurethane, especially Bona Traffic HD.


styles and trends in hardwood floors for 2020Bona Traffic HD is an amazing product. First, it just gives a more natural, lighter and more contemporary look. The wood looks more natural and it doesn’t have that yellowish tint (oil borne polyurethanes give a more amber color, and they amberizes more over time).


And, Bona Traffic is better for the environment (lower VOCs) and it smells less. And, it dries and cures faster. It is more expensive, but it’s worth it if you are going for a light and natural look.


You can read more about Bona Traffic HD Polyurethane in these 3 articles:

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4. Whitewashed and lightly whitewashed floors

2021 hardwood flooring trends - white washed woodWhitewashes are back, and they’ve rapidly grown in popularity. For those of you who remember whitewashes from the 80’s, you’ll be happy to know that they’ve been reinvented and modernized.


The whitewashes of today are more matte and many are more subtle in character. They work best on white oak for a modern look. The mineral streaks give the wood a more linear look for a contemporary style vs the heavy graining on red oak which has a more traditional look (and pinkish undertones).



The latest style has been to do a more subtle white wash so that the floors look more natural…but a tad lighter and a tad whiter than natural floors. One of my favorite new products on the market place is Bona NordicSeal.

Scandinavian whitewashed hardwood floors using Bona Nordic Seal

This is a sealer (used as the first layer) is lightly tinted (a white tint). So, you can now get a subtle white tint…without the need for a stain. And, you have the option of adding multiple layers to get a whiter look until you get your desired hue.


The above picture is by Sye from Gands Hardwood Floors (in Massachusetts). The floors are white oak (rift and quarter-sawn) with


Check out this video to see how it’s done.

Video: applying Nordic Seal to your hardwood flooring


Also, today’s whitewashed (or lightly whitewashed floors) use of higher grade water borne polyurethanes such as Bona Traffic HD, give a more premium appearance and much stronger durability vs the whitewash from your parent’s (or grandparent’s) generation.

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2021 Hardwood Floor Finishes, Sheens and Textures

5. Natural looking finishes (Satin, Matte and flatter sheens)

2021 hardwood floor trends - low sheen low luster finishMatte and satin finishes are the most popular sheens. It’s all about low luster. Semi gloss and glossy finishes are very dated, and very difficult to maintain, as they show every speck of dust, scratch and dent. Over the last few years, flatter finishes have become even more popular as more and more people are going for water borne poly, especially the higher grade Bona Traffic. For walls, flat paint finishes are also more popular and stylish.


The great news for matte and satin finishes is that they are both popular and practical. They are easier to clean and look better longer.


These sheen preferences are complemented in other surfaces such counter tops (think soap stone, poured concrete and honed surfaces) as well brushed nickel hardware.


6. Higher grade and more environmentally friendly polyurethane/oil finishes

wood floor trends for 2021The preference, when possible, is to use high grade polyurethanes that are both durable and environmentally friendly. Personally, I think the best option for this is use a high grade waterborne polyurethane such as Bona Traffic HD. You can read more about this in Trend 3. This does cost more, but the finish is very hard and durable. It looks great, smells less and dries faster.


Alternatively, there is another solution that has also been growing, and that is oiled floors. (Note this is DIFFERENT floors refinished than oil based polyurethane).


Oiled floors have zero VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and do not have polyurethane. Instead these oils penetrates into the wood. This gives a rich and more natural patina. They have a duller finish.


oiled floors - 2021 wood trendsMost oiled floors use tung or linseed oil, or a combo. Some use safflower, soy, sunflower or hemp. Some formulas use resin waxes, such as bees wax or carnuba for higher durability. The oils penetrate the wood and attach at a molecular level making the wood stronger while leaving the texture and color unobstructed. Over time, the oil ages with the wood and the patina grows stronger.


Oiled floors allow the homeowner to easily fix scratches themselves by applying additional oil. The oil is easy to use and enhance the natural appearance of the wood.


Hardwood flooring trends for 2021However, these oiled floors have some real downsides (aside from the much higher cost for the oil and the application process…and yes, they are even more expensive than Bona Traffic HD).


The disadvantages of oiled floors is that they can often be more difficult to maintain (you need to periodically treat the floors with more oil) and the floors do not have a protective finish, so they absorb water (as well as pet urine). Polyurethane provides a protective layer that rests on the wood and prevents water from penetrating. Oiled floors don’t protect the floors in the same way. They require a lot more regular maintenance.


Another related down side to oiled floors is that you tend to see premature color discoloration in high traffic areas. This is often because most people don’t keep up with the maintenance, and these areas wear down faster.


Importantly, with oiled floors, you would not use a regular hardwood cleaner. Instead, you would use Woca natural soap and the Woca Wood Refresher. You can easily buy them on amazon by following the links in this paragraph. These items cost more than the typical hardwood cleaners, but at least you can make repairs as scratches occur.


If had to choose between these two options, I would usually recommend Bona Traffic HD over oiled floors as it provides more protection for your floors, lower maintenance and of it costs less than an oiled floor.

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7. On-site refinishing (vs. pre-finished wood)

improving the value of your home with hardwood flooringThere has been a rising preference for site finished hardwood over pre-finished wood (i.e wood manufactured and finished in a factory). Site finished wood looks better – it’s more contemporary and has cleaner lines.


Pre-finished wood often has stripes on the edges where you can see the underlying color of the wood underneath, especially if you are using a wood with a stain. This is not always obvious when you are looking samples, but it’s very apparent once you see the wood installed across an entire floor.


trending hardwood colors and styles for 2021Site finished wood looks more professional and has a more consistent color and finish across the floor. It’s smoother on your feet and much easier to clean. (Pre-finished wood has micro-beveled edges where dust gets caught. It’s also a much better option if you using hardwood in your kitchen.


And, importantly site finished wood is customizable. You have the ability to test and mix stains on you wood and look at them in your own home and lighting. You can also choose your desired finish (e.g. matte or satin).


While solid hardwood flooring is by far the most popular and cost efficient option for refinishing floors, we are starting to see a rapid rise in high grade unfinished engineered hardwood. This is because solid hardwood doesn’t work in all environments.


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Solid hardwood is a great option for cooler climates. But for warmer climates that are build on a concrete slab, solid hardwood often isn’t practical (as you can’t nail it into concrete…and it costs more and adds additional height if you need to add plywood). If you live in an apartment that has a concrete, you have the same challenge.


So, I’ve been seeing a stronger demand for high grade unfinished engineered woods with a thick top wear layer that can be refinished multiple times. (The wear layer is typically 4 to 6 mm and the wood is 3/4″ thick). This allows customers to get higher grades/cuts of wood as well as wider planks. Check out this video from Ken Fisher (Uptown Floors) and you’ll see what I mean.


8. Wire brushed and textured floors

2021 hardwood floor trends - wire brushed flooringWire brushed floors are etched with a subtle texture to enhance the graining of the wood. They are a more modern version of distressed wood. They have a real vintage look as the wire brushing enhances (rather than conceals) the graining of the wood.


Wire brushing pulls the soft grain from the growth ring leaving the heart wood exposed to the surface. It’s stylish and helps mask everyday wear and tear (and dirt).


gray wire brushed hardwood flooring 2021 trendsWire brushed wood has a bit of texture, but it’s not rough or wavy like distressed or hand-scraped wood. Some wire brushed wood is monotone, but most are 2 toned, done with 2 passes of stain (generally a darker coat as the main color and then a partial glaze with a lighter color.


You typically would find wire brushed hardwood in a pre-finished form as the wire brushing is very labor intensive (it has to be done by hand) and very few installers know how to do this technique. The pictures in this section are actually site finished locally. These are blends of gray + white and golden oak/white + white and use Bona Traffic HD for the polyurethane.


2021 Hardwood Flooring Material and Style preferences

9. Solid hardwood floors that last a lifetime (rather than engineered wood or bamboo)

solid hardwood rather than engineered or bamboo 2021 hardwood trendsGiven the preference, most people are selecting solid hardwood over cheaper and shorter term alternatives such as engineered wood or bamboo. Solid hardwood will generally last 100+ years. (We have in fact refinished many floors from the 1800 and 1700s). For those looking for a long-term floor and one that improves the value of their home, this is usually the best solution.
Solid hardwood also allows homeowners to sand and refinish and change the colors as styles and preferences change, as well as allowing new home buyers to choose their preferred colors.


Homeowners are realizing short falls for engineered hardwood flooring (i.e. they usually can’t be sanded and refinished, so if you get scratches, or water damage or pet accidents, you may need to fully replace them.


2021 hardwood flooring trends - whitewashed floorsHowever, in some areas instances, engineered hardwood may be a better and more economical solution and practical solution, (e.g. warmer climates where homes are built on slabs (e.g. in warmer climates) or concrete sub-floors in apartments or basements), they remain popular.


But, in the Northeast, Mid Atlantic, most of East Coast, Mid West and other places built with plywood, solid hardwood is the preferred form.


bamboo is not a good choice if you have kids or petsAlso, many more customers are becoming aware of pitfalls and misleading marketing on bamboo flooring. Bamboo is actually a grass and it does not hold up well to foot traffic or pets. It scratches very easily (and shows scratches more than oak does), and it does not hold up well to water (e.g. water by entry areas, minor spills, accidents from pets).


In addition, Bamboo is NOT a green product due to long shipping distances from China, huge amounts of adhesive and of course some from the bigger box stores may be laced with formaldehyde.


Never have I seen a “wood” (and remember it’s not a wood; it’s a grass) have so many customer and installer complaints. We stopped installing it years ago.


There is a reason bamboo costs less…it’s simply inferior and generally doesn’t even last for 10 years, despite the supposed 25 year “warranty claims” (if you can even call it a warranty), don’t hold up. And, removing it, along with the glue left behind on the sub-floor, cost more than than the original wood cost.


10. Farmhouse Style

2021 trends for wooden floorsFarmhouse style and rustic looks have been on the rise, in part accelerated by Joanna Gaines and her Fixer Upper TV show. Farmhouse decor and shiplap is everywhere on Pinterest. In fact, I finally wrote an article with 8 ways to decorate with Shiplap. In terms of flooring, there is a range of farmhouse styles pending on the style of home, walls and the homeowners taste.


shiplap wall panels for modern farmhouse lookOften you’ll find a preference for wider planks, more subtle, paler and cool tones (e.g. grays, gray mixes, white washed floors), floors with stronger graining and/or more knots. Occasionally, you’ll see multiple width planks, and often distressed and rustic floors as well as mid to darker browns.


Farmhouse decor is really a return to a more authentic, simple and natural look…a return to a simpler life.


Check out my article on 12 Fabulous farmhouse style hardwood floors.


11. Simpler layouts

2021 hardwood flooring trends - simple layouts and uniformity through out houseMost customers are showing a strong preference for simpler layouts – more towards a single width plank in a straight lay, and a move away from multiple widths, herringbone, chevron, borders, diagonals, etc. Customers want a clean and simple look for the floor. Some of these other options distract your eye and look too busy.


Customers want a clean look with fewer distractions. You can even see this in kitchen cabinet trends where many are choosing a Shaker style. By creating balance, it reduces clutter. And, it enables homeowners to use more patterns with throw pillows and area rugs.


12. Wider planks

2021 wood floor trends - wide planksYes, wider wood planks make your space look larger (and better). Interesting enough, they make modern homes took more contemporary and older homes look more rustic and authentic.

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Wider planks have been growing in popularity over the last decade and are strongly preferred over the standard 2 1/4″ strips that were installed from the 30’s through the 90’s. Nowadays, it’s rare to install anything below 3 1/4″ for new installations (unless you are matching wood that’s in the rest of the house.


13. A shift towards white oak (rather than red oak)

trend towards white oak flooring for 2019-2021Oak accounts for approximately 80% of hardwood flooring in the US.

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We are also seeing more character grade white oak for a modern vintage or shabby chic style. And, this leads me to my next point.


popular hardwood flooring styles for 2021We are also seeing rapid growth in French Oak (often called White French Oak). This species of of wood is often used in French wine making as it has higher levels of tannins.


During the aging process, the tannins react with the elements giving the hardwood a beautiful patina and time-worn look. This gives the wood even more character with interesting cracks and knots for a unique and natural style.

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14. Broader options for hardwood cuts and grades

White Oak Chevron rifted and quarter sawnAs customers are becoming more educated about hardwood, and as manufacturers are becoming more innovative and in touch with customer preferences, we are seeing a wider breath of wood cuts.


Years ago, if I had mentioned rifted or quarter-sawn wood, my customers would have no idea what I was talking about. Today, some customers proactively ask for rifted hardwood because they love the linear pattern. It’s more modern looking.


And, rifted hardwood expands and contracts less, you have a tighter fit/less gapping between the planks (and it works over radiant heat).


On the flip side, many are going to the opposite extreme and asking for more character grade wood (with wider planks). When these are used with more contemporary colors (especially white-washed and grey blends), and coupled with soft matte finishes, they bring an updated and natural look to a room.


15. A return to Authenticity

Over the weekend, I read an article about why hardwood flooring is so popular…besides the obvious. What I thought was so interesting is that one of the reasons deep down inside that we love hardwood flooring is this overriding cultural trend towards AUTHENTICITY.


With so much going on in our lives, and so much distrust out there (whether it’s government, corporations, banks, or whatever), we all crave people and things that are REAL and GENUINE. We take comfort in the people and things we can rely on. We love to look back to the past – the good old days, the simpler times…when life was easier and less complicated..

Distressed hardwood flooring Westchester NY - Barrel Creek

Hardwood flooring is a perfect example of a product that embodies that feeling. First, the wood has been around for a long time – often it’s taken over 100 years for those trees to grow. Second, that hardwood will be here for at least another century enduring through the generations. Third, because hardwood is a natural product, it has natural variation. Each piece is different – some pieces are darker, some lighter; the graining and knots are different on each piece. And, over time, it ages…and it gets more beautiful with age. It truly is a stunning product.


How is that manifested in today’s trends? I’m seeing a celebration of the wood’s character – the imperfections and mineral streaks, timeworn styles and colors, flatter finishes, longer boards (like in the old days), wire-brushed and hand-scraped textures and even reclaimed wood.

reclaimed wood - hardwood flooring trends 2021

reclaimed hardwood

Reclaimed wood is when they reuse wood from old buildings, barns and decking materials and reuse them (a form of recycling). You get something original that is also environmentally friendly. It’s a win win. Of course it isn’t cheap either as these materials are in short supply.


16. American grown

The trend is clearly towards American grown woods, especially white oak, but all of them are seeing a resurgence – red oak, maple, hickory, old recycled pines.


This is driven by combo of factors including authenticity, a preference for reducing our carbon foot print, growth toward cool, dark and light colors (which can be achieved more easily with oaks rather than more exotic redder and yellower woods. It’s also a move away from Chinese made lower grade products.


Of course these woods tend to be less expensive too because they are locally grown. The preference is almost alway American grown and American made.


17. Hardwood flooring in kitchens…and almost everywhere

trending hardwood styles for 2021Hardwood flooring for kitchens has been rapidly rising for the last 10 years. It’s more stylish, easier to keep clean, easier on your feet and makes your room look larger. Check out this article on the pros and cons of hardwood floors in kitchens.


Of course with the rise of open concept floor plans, hardwood flooring for kitchens is becoming a “must have.”


We are also seeing a strong preference for hardwood in the entryway, especially if this area abuts the living room and dining room which is already hardwood, as it creates a uniform look and color, makes the space look larger. And, often the hardwood will continue into the powder room (as it’s simpler and saves money if the area is all done at once.


Also, I find it entertaining, that some online magazines are trying to create sensational headlines by stating that hardwood is no longer #1. Clickbait for sure. They state that only 24% of homeowners chose hardwood and 26% chose tile, and then they go on to say that 17% chose engineered hardwood.


Well I have news for them. Engineered wood is hardwood and 24+17=41% which is significantly higher than 26% last time I checked. Not to mentioned that in cooler climates there are tons of homes where customers already have hardwood and simply choose to refinish it and change the color. Voila, whole new look.


What’s out of style for hardwood in 2021

  • Red tones

Red stain colors, as well as stains with red undertones are polarizing. And, they are more challenging to decorate with, especially since cool tones are most popular (for both floors and walls).

2021 hardwood floor colors

The browner you go in with the stain, the more it drowns out the red (especially if you have red oak or pine).


Related article: How to get rid of the cherry tones in Brazilian Cherry hardwood.


  • Yellow tones

    Yellows have become so super dated these days. When you choose a light stain (or even no stain), and you use an oil based poly, you get yellow floors. And, over time, they amberize even more from UV rays, so they turn more yellow and sometimes even orange (pending on the wood and stain used). A simple way to avoid this is to go natural and use a high grade water borne polyurethane.


  • Honey tones – on floors, walls and cabinets

I was kind of surprised when I read this on another trend post because it couldn’t be further from the truth. Honey is a slightly modified version of yellow or golden oak, and it is soooo dated. Not only is it detested on floors, but also cabinets and paneling.


It is usually the first thing to go when customers move into a new home. They can’t stand it. On the floors, they want to stain them either very dark or very light – but without any sign of yellow or honey – so either natural with a high grade water-borne poly (like Bona Traffic or Loba Supra) or whitewash (or gray wash).


The cabinets are often painted white or gray (or repleced). Wood base molding or trim is painted white and paneling is either removed or painting white.


  • Exotic hardwoods

Most exotic hardwoods are red and/or have red/orange undertones (e.g. Brazilian cherry, Mahogany, Tigerwood). These woods are generally more expensive, but their main downfall is the color – reds and oranges are dated and limit the paint color choices for your room.

exotic hardwood floors - hardwood floor colors

Over the last decade, there’s been more of a preference for home grown domestic woods. And, while many love the smoother graining of exotic woods, they more challenging to maintain as they show scratches more.


  • Bamboo

A decade ago, bamboo was seen as an exotic and exciting wood that appeared to be environmentally friendly. Well it definitely has been disappointing as its only real benefit is that it’s cheap.


Bamboo does not hold up well to dents and scratches, nor does it hold up well to water (compared to other woods). And, of course the promise of a green product has also proven to fall short, and it’s just a marketing gimmick. They are also laced with a lot of adhesive, so not the best for indoor air quality


  • Shiny and Semi gloss finishes.

These are very dated, and they aren’t very practical. Shinier floors are more challenging to maintain as they show dirt, dents and scratches more (due to higher light reflection).


As a result, you need to clean them more often and you need to refinish your floors sooner.

Satin and matte finishes are strongly preferred, as well a finishes that look more natural (such as oiled floors).. Now we even see versions of high grade water based poly that look more natural (e.g. Bona Naturale or Loba 2K Supra).


  • High Color variations

Wood with high color variation have come and gone. Why? Because they take over the room. They over power it and make it look very busy.


These have actually been more popular among “fake”or “faux” woods (such as luxury vinyl plank or laminate as the high color variations make the fake stuff look a bit more real and they attract your eye in the store. They do work in some hip commercial restauants.


But, in real life, in a real home, they are not practical. They are way to busy, especially if you use them in more than one room (and most people prefer to have the same flooring in most areas of the home. They are also incredibly hard to decorate with.


People love natural variation in their wood, but not to an extreme. They’d prefer to see only moderate color variation and instead prefer graining variations and natural imperfection.


Avoid getting suckered in to this short-lived trend. And remember that wood is basically a permanent fixture of your home, and you don’t want to date it. You want a wood that is stylish and will stand the test of time. You want a wood where you can change the color over time… so you can change with the times.


  • Parquet

Parquet just looks dated and cheap. They make your space look smaller and busier. Over time, they separate more, so they get out of alignment and collect more dirt.


These were often used in older apartment buildings as they could be glued on top of concrete sub-floors and they camouflaged imperfections. Nowadays, most manufacturers have discontinued them, and they are sometimes challenging to replace.


If you do have parquet floors and can’t afford to replace them, I’d suggest choosing a dark stain as this will camouflage the gaps (and stains) more. A dark stain will also make the floors look less busy.


Final thoughts on Hardwood Flooring Trends for 2021 and beyond

Hardwood flooring trends for 2020So those are my top 15 trends for hardwood flooring for 2021 and beyond. Most of these trends have been building for years, and I expect them to grow even more in popularity. You can see that many of these trends are synergistic and there’s a strong preference for cooler tones, lower luster and more subtle colors and textures. These trends are consistent with paint trends as the floors and walls need to work together in harmony.


Which is your favorite trend?


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Hardwood Flooring Trends for 2021

126 thoughts on “Hardwood Flooring Trends for 2021”

  1. This is really comprehensive, Debbie. I agree with you about the grey floors coming about in 2010 or so. That’s when I began noticing a few samples and saying, hey, this looks pretty cool. Keep up the great work.

    1. Hi Debbie! Loved the article. I’m a fellow BBC member and have tried to message you on Pinterest but it won’t let me for some silly reason. I’ve been enjoying your blog resources while we are mid renovation on a farmhouse fixer upper! Keep up the good work, I’d love to collaborate on any group boards that you may run. Hope these next 60 days are great for you too! 🙂

      1. Ang – Paul is great. Thank you for the kind words. I really appreciate it. Sorry I’m so behind on all my messages. I can’t keep up. If you can find me on Facebook, message me there or fill out the contact form on here w/ a link to your pinterest profile and I’ll try to take care of it soon.

      1. Thanks so much for the great resource. But I have a question I have engineered flooring that has some water damage and I have to change the entire floor now this is traditional home with columns and niches. Do you think wider planks will make it too rustic? I want to stay with lighter color but can’t determine on the width

        1. Ram – Actually wide plank looks very contemporary and modern. It all depends on the color/style of wood. So, wide can be used for either rustic (if a rustic style) or modern (if it’s a modern style). Sorry about your water damage. It will look more modern if it’s very dark or very light (e.g. waterborne poly natural or gray or something.

      2. our design dilemma is that we are going to rip out carpeting in the living room and dining room of our new home. We would like to jave hardwood installed in place of the carpet. However, there are bleached/white washed colored railings and stairs that go to the 2nd floor and we don’t like that color. What options do we have hardwood floor coloring? We were thinking of going with gray hardwood floor on the entire first floor including breaking up the white tile shown in the entry way picture below. We are also changing the running the runner and 2nd floor carpeting.

        1. Well I would ditch the white washed steps and railings right away. These are so dated and seem to be impacting your flooring choice. The steps can easily be sanded and refinished to match the new wood you put in. The railings can either be sanded and refinished (more expensive) or painted (less expensive). spindles should be painted white. top part and ballustrades could either be painted or stained to match floors.

          Many are doing a black laquer on top and balustrades…which works great with dark hardwood floors or even gray.

          From there, choose the floor color of your choice. (do the floors first).

          Gray can definitely work, but if you change those banisters, anything will work…and do what you want. This sounds like the tail wagging the dog.

          Also bear in mind that there is a good chance your steps and banister are red oak and they may never match the floor exactly…so painting spindles white and ballustrades black may be a much better solution.

  2. We are flipping a home with a big open space with a stone fireplace. Would you suggest 5” wide handscraped hickory or 6”-7-8” European oak long lengths?

    1. Lisa – I think this could look really nice in this open space. Just be aware that hickory is a bit busy, so make sure it works with the stone in the fireplace. Yes, to wide and yes to long lengths. 5″ or wider will work. You need to make the call on 1 width vs 3, pending on the look you’re going for. The multi width is more rustic, the single width is more contemporary. Remember that while you can change the color of the wood, the width is permanent, so it will always be there when you refinish. Multiwidth is more niche and the trend is towards simplicity and just 1 width. But, do what you love.

  3. hi,
    I am trying to decide what light color water based Bona product I should use on my red oak floors. The last time I finished my floors, I used a natural oil based poly but given the environmental issues and the fact that this color seems to be out of date, I thought I would make a change.
    I am fearful that the water based Natural with Traffic HD will be a bit too washed out for me although I am not sure. With that in mind, I noted that you suggested Golden Oak, and Ipswich Pine as other possible choices. I am a bit confused by this suggestion because in another article you mentioned that yellow tones are not currently popular. I thought Golden Oak would be seen as having yellow tones? Could you explain? All suggestions are welcome! SInce I might want to sell my house in the future, I would like to stay within the trends. I would prefer to stay with ligher as opposed to the dark colors. Thank you.

    1. Sherry – I would just go natural.

      You are correct that doing doing those other light stains will give a yellow color. You have to remember that there are trends/colors that are popular…and then there are colors that people just like regardless of whether they are on trend or not. And, that’s fine. Different people have different tastes.

      If you’re going light/using Bona, just go natural. It will look the best, be most in style and cost less. This is what I would recommend, especially if you are selling your house.

      I hope that helps clarify.

      1. We now have 2 x 6 pine flooring that is Jacobean in color. The house was modeled after a home built in 1850. We need to modernize the look. Should we tear up the floor and put in a new engineered wood or should we refinish the existing floor?

        1. Ron – This is a tough one. I’m never a fan of ripping up perfectly good solid wood and especially if you are going to trade down to engineered wood. But, I suppose it’s an option. It’s a bit challenging to make pine look modern, so I feel your pain. I would probably more included to do the floors darker (e.g. ebony or even mix in with some true black from Duraseal). Pine is naturally reddish and/or yellowish/orangish pending the species so it naturally looks a bit dated if you have lighter colors. But, if you go darker, it might work.

          Also, I have found that dark walnut comes out darker on pine than jacobean, so you could consider that as well. Always test.

    2. I had red oak floors that i had finished with a water based ( non yellowing) satin finish urethane, probably Bona. They were spectacular.

  4. Thank you for your prompt response!
    I have a couple additional questions. I did a sample of Bona natural on my red oak floors and it seemed as though there was a slight pink tone to the color. Coincidentally, a real estate agent I had spoken with said she had experienced the same thing. Have you experienced this? If not, I won’t worry.
    Also, what do you think about Amber seal? How different Is Natural versus Amber seal?
    Thank you.

    1. Sherry – You’re welcome. Yes, red oak has pink undertones, so you often see that. For sure, you can use amber seal and that will help drown out the pink. But, it will give you a bit of yellow, so it just depends on which you prefer.

      Alternatively, and this is not my first choice, you can use bleach on the floor to drown out pink and give more of white wash tint. But, the bleach is not very good for the hardwood (dries it out a bit, weakens it a bit). Of course it also costs more, smells and takes longer, too.

      I hope that helps.

  5. Also, do you think that Bona Natural or Amber works with cool light gray paint or light beige paint colors?
    Thank you.

    1. I think the natural looks better with those colors (as it’s cooler), but I suppose they both could work. Nowadays, since gray has become so popular, I see mixes of warm and cool tones together. But, personally I prefer the non amber look. But that’s just my opinion. Test them and get paint samples on the wall so you can decide for yourself.

  6. Thanks! Your answers are very clear! Taking a slight detour, what do you suggest for people who want to switch from oil based to water based but still want to get close in color to how the natural oil based looks on red oak floors?

    1. Sherry – Then, probably use Bona Amber Seal. Alternatively, use a light stain such as natural (that actually is a stain color too) or something similar and then Bona Natural (or maybe golden oak which is a bit darker…or something in between). You need to test it to see…because the color of the oil changes a lot over time.

  7. Hi
    First Great Article! Question — I love my newly installed white oak, rift , quarter sawn floors..What stain or coating should be used if I want to keep the natural look without yellowing or adding a red tone? In the alternative what do you think of I am thinking of Dura Seal Cotton White? Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks

    1. If you’re looking to go light, then definitely use Bona Traffic HD. It will look the most natural and yellow the least. I’m not sure if this link will work: For stains, if you use a stain that is dark (special walnut or darker), you shouldn’t have any yellowing so you can use whatever poly you want, especially the darker you go. I’m not familiar with duraseal cotton white, but we have found that Minwax and Duraseal white and gray stains are very thin/not much depth in color. For white, we use Bona’s white stain.

  8. I definitely agree on the dark and cool tone trends. We’ve seen a huge influx of dark hardwoods in the floors that we’ve installed recently. It seems like those are going to be extremely popular going into 2018.

    Great article, as always!

    1. Arturo – Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I’m glad you’re seeing the same thing. It really is unbelievable to see to the trend and preference towards dark and cool hardwood flooring. And, the painting trends are going hand in hand with this.

  9. You did a great job in sharing a very informative post! I loved the way you have presented a very detailed blog with lovely photos too. I can’t wait to share such great source of knowledge in wood flooring to my friends and colleagues. Looking forward to read more of your post and hoping to hear your thoughts as well about oak planks. =)

  10. I have some oriental furniture with mother pearl design, , I do want a solid hardwood flooring in my bedroom, which color would be the best? Thank you.

    1. Yolande – It all depends on what you like best and the style you are going for. In may experience, both very dark floors and very light floors tend to go well with that. The idea is to have a contrast and that is why both extremes work.

  11. Caroline McDaniel

    I love the Coretec XL waterproof but even with CARB and Greengaurd certificates i am having a hard time getting over the fact that it’s vinyl and made of petroleum…We have 3 kids with allergies and I do NOT want to choose ANYTHING that could have negative impacts to our family’s health. I have looked at the Marmoleum flooring also. PLEASE help Flooring Girl!! Also, please way in on the ‘healthiest’ hard wood options too. Just need your expertise!!

    1. Caroline – I have you a full and very lengthy response on the other article. But, just to specifically answer the hardwood question, solid hardwood is best and way better than engineered hardwood (for allergies) which has layers glued together. Solid hardwood will also last much longer and you can easily change the color years from now if you want to.

  12. I’m wondering if there is much difference in the luster/sheen of Bona traffic Matt vs bona traffic HD ultra Matt? I’m hoping to achieve a modern clean look but don’t want floors completely flat. My flooring contractor is recommending the HD ultra Matt. I have plenty of natural light coming into the open plan living space.
    Thank you

    1. That is odd…I thought they just had ultra matte (and not matte). Maybe they have more choices now, especially as they have some more lines.

      Anyway, the ultra matte is very matte and very stylish. I’d say 50% of customers use that and 50% satin. If you don’t want it that flat, then do satin.

      Or, start with ultra matte and look at floors before last coat, and if you’re not happy do satin on the top coat.

  13. Bona now makes a penetrating oil called Craft Oil. The great thing about it is that if a client decides later that they aren’t happy with this style of finish, the floor can be top coated with any finish in the Bona Traffic family.

  14. Great info!
    My home was built in 1909 in Minneapolis, MN. It has 2 1/4” maple in half of the lower floor. The other half (kitchen and sun room) had many layers upon layers of vinyl/laminate. We had that gutted to the subfloor and had new 2 1/4” real hardwood unfinished maple to match best as possible to the existing, and at the same level. Sanded the whole first floor level new and old and had water Bona High Traffic on everything. No stain, as I don’t think maple looks good stained and it originally wasn’t. And I LOVE IT!
    All that said, I dislike the look of overly dark stained floors. It looks already outdated to me, and seems very much a trend from quite a few yeats ago! Stain it grey or ebony, and throw some grey up on the walls! Add in white subway tile backsplash and you’re not too far from
    adding in some shiplap and a huge clock on the wall 🙂
    I guess my point is, try to stay a bit classic and not overtly trendy, as that looks old fast. Maybe that doesn’t matter if you love it?!?!

    1. Amanda – Yes, good point. Everyone needs to do what’s right given the wood they have and style of the home. I agree that for maple, natural with Bona Traffic is best. And, that is very stylish (as the main preference is for very dark or very light…and you can go even lighter with maple than oak). I believe everyone should choose what they like. Here in New York, where most of the trends are set, dark is still the most popular and growing. I expect it to outlast gray floors, especially as it’s so easy to decorate with dark floors, but more challenging with gray floors.

      But, one of the great things about hardwood floors is that you can refinish them when styles, preferences or new homeowners move in. Shiplap and tile (on floors or walls) are more “permanent” and more difficult to remove or replace and they also tend to go out of style faster. This is why I steer more people towards dark over gray and more traditional beadboard or wainscoting rather than shiplap.

  15. Such a great post, Debbie! I’m a huge fan of real hardwoods (with Bona HD!) but I’m struggling with a decision for my summer cottage…. real hardwoods or engineered wide plank flooring? This cottage will only be used about 3-4 months per year and I’m trying to save a bit of $$$. What would you recommend?

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Kerry – Thanks so much. I really appreciate that. I personally prefer solid over engineered because they last much longer. Also, engineered often doesn’t save money…in fact, they often cost more than solid (unless you get the super cheap ones…which don’t last.

      What do you have for a subfloor? If it’s concrete, engineered may be less expensive; if you have plywood, solid will probably costs less. Also where it is? Is it up north, south, near the water?

  16. What is the flooring in the picture with the banister leading to the 2nd floor, white walls etc. Lovely floor, pls provide brand and number etc. Thx

    1. Carey – That’s a picture from a friend of mine and it looks like the floors are stained with dark walnut. There isn’t a brand and number. This is site finished wood. If you are looking for prefinished wood, you’ll just want to look for something similar. Most people here in Northeast/Mid Atlantic prefer site finished wood…which is stained and refinished on site.

  17. 3D epoxy flooring or metallic epoxy flooring that’s where it’s at these days. Carpet and hardwood are so ho hum boring 20th century. Get with the creative times, guys. Much more choices out there.

    1. Jeff – Interesting. No, I have not seen that trend in real homes, nor seen any demand for that from customers here…except for garages. Occasionally, I see some of this in bathrooms in commercial spaces. Also, BTW, it’s the 21st Century now. 20th Century was the 1900s. Regardless, hardwood is by far the preference, and this article is about hardwood flooring trends, not flooring trends. But, thanks for your insight. I may add something about this as a niche item for my article about flooring trends.

  18. Is there any downside of a 5″ plank? One flooring company implied that it might have gaps during the winter and minor cupping in the humid summer months. Is this likely? (Cause I really like the 5″ plank but I don’t want to have problems). Also, do you prefer
    Sommerset or Armstrong? Thank you so much.

    1. Allie – You may get some minor gapping during the winter (as you would get with almost any hardwood). You generally would not get cupping unless it’s installed incorrectly.

      With 5″, you need to both nail + glue so that you don’t have this problem. And, often, they should leave a slightly wider gap along the perimeter (which is covered by the base molding or shoe molding). Also, be sure to let it acclimate longer…at least 3 to 4 days. Spring is probably the ideal time to install it (or fall) to minimize these issues. But, in general, it’s not a problem. I strongly prefer Somerset over Armstrong. Armstrong’s finishes are shinier and microbevel edges tend to be a bit thicker and show more. Somerset color collection tends to have higher grade wood and longer lengths.

  19. I have red oak hardwood being refinished now. Trying to figure out what color to stain them. My kitchen cabinets are the oak color of the 1990’s, kinda golden orange. Additionally, I ‘m getting ready to sell my house. What are you thoughts on the color to do the floor? I’d like to update it, little darker, browner, but how is that going to look with the cabinets? I’ve heard there is a gel I can put on the cabinets to darken them up. Any experience with that? Also, the wood floor guy is using min-wax stains, so that is the pallet I have to work with. Thanks so much in advance for any advice you may be able to offer.

    1. Hi Jessica. For the floors, the most popular blend is 50/50 ebony/dark walnut. That is what’s best for the house, and a shame to let the dated cabinets drive the color of the whole house. It’s the the tail wagging the dog. Also, with a dark blend, it will give you more contrast with cabinets.

      for the cabinets, I’m not familar with the gel stain, but I would think for that to work, you need to fully sand down the cabinets for the stain to penetrate the wood. Otherwise, it won’t adhere. A better and easier option would be to paint the cabinets white. White is by far the most popular color for cabinets, and it make your kitchen look larger, and it will contrast better with the floors, regardless of which stain you use. Painting should be less expensive, too.

      here’s an article I wrote on how to paint cabinets.
      You can either do it yourself or hire someone.

    2. Also, you are way better off using Duraseal stain, not minwax. They are made by the same company. Duraseal is what professionals use and it comes out better and dries much faster. Dark minwax stains can take 4-7 days to dry.

  20. Our house is approx 20yrs old and we are looking to sell it. On the main floor (north side), we have the entry hallway (& powder RM) all in black galaxy granite and the joining LR & DR is a clear stained wood (rubber wood) that has aged with a yellow tone. On the south side of the main floor, we need to replace the tile and carpet in the great room (kitchen & tv room). There is are two french doors separating the front of the house (entrance/hallway, LR, DR) from the back of the house (kitchen, great room). What material (wood/tile/stone) and colour would you recommend to tie in with the entry hall granite and LR/DR wood floor. We are open to re-buffing the LR/DR wood in trying to achieve a more unified look. Thanks

    1. I guess I would do some sort of wood as it’s most popular and will give you most uniform look. I’ve never seen rubber wood in person…I guess no one uses here/not popular. And, it’s very soft. I’m guessing it’s expensive. If you can get that so it matches, I’d probably go with that, but it would never be my first choice for a home. It probably doesn’t hold up well. Be sure to put an area rug over the area in the entryway. Maybe there’s another wood that looks fairly similar, but I don’t know what that would be. I would call in a local flooring expert to look at it in person. The graining looks unique.

  21. I am having trouble deciding on what color of Distressed Engineered flooring to go in my Den and Bedrooms. I love the antiqued look of Oak. My problem is, In my den I have a dark brown leather couch and I know I will have to pick the right shade of floor. I do not want to make the room look too dark. I have never like the light oak. I have a few antiques all over the house. What color would you recommend?

    1. Pat – Distressed wood tends to look better in darker colors, because of the way the stain pools and also because that’s what we associate with older/antique woods. I would make sure you go in the brown tones (avoid reds/red undertones/mix of brown/red). This will be more neutral and go better with your furniture and/or other woods you have in the area. I would probably do a mid-dark. you’ll have to find the exact shade/one you like. bring a pillow of the couch if you can when you go to the stores.

    1. If that’s what you really want to do, do it. It certainly would not be my recommendation as a) the color is dated…and will later make it more challenging when you sell your house), and b) it doesn’t seem to hold up that well (often shrinkage..which causes gapping in the boards), denting and shows scratches more). But, it’s your home, so it’s your choice.

  22. You really know your stuff and am glad I found your site. Glad to have met you in our group. debb..

  23. I have carpet on the main floor and is tired of it. I want hardwood flooring with lighter grey or grey/brown color. I need help with the wood type choice, what stains to buy as I want it to be site finished. Pam

    1. Melinda – Many of these are unfinshed hardwood pictures (stained on site so no manufacturer) and some are stock photos, so no known manufacturer. I do have many links to the stain colors and I have several other hardwood articles that link to the manufacturers.

  24. Hi,

    I am looking to rip out my 1990s gunstock engineered hardwood floor (has an orangey look) and replacing it with either new hardwood floors or high quality engineered vinyl planks. As i have read many of your articles I prefer hardwood like yourself but my subfloor is concrete. Also, i want gray (slight brown undertones), want a good ROI as I expect to sell in 7 years, and live in northern Virginia. Additionally, I expect to have the floor throughout the house including stairs, kitchen and one half bath. I also want a modern/contemporary look, matte or satin finish, cool tones, and wide planks. I would also stain my stair railings a dark espresso color as they currently match my orangey looking floor. Stair railing pillars would be painted white.

    Given all of this info i am confused on these areas

    1. Harwood or engineered vinyl planks like coretec or engineered wood – i prefer Hardwood but my subfloor is concrete. Would i need to add a plywood subfloor and how much extra would this cost over installing a coretec type of floor. There is a Floors & Decors near me and they carry the Nucor brand. Is that a good brand? Also, if i needed to add a subfloor this may cause the floor to be too high causing other issues. Any thoughts?

    2. If i install hardwood – I know you prefer to install unfinished wood and then to refinish and stain onsite but since i want gray do you think its easier and safer just to find a prefinished gray hardwood (maple or birch). I am just concerned about finding a contractor who can give me the gray color i like without messing things up. If you still think i should install unfinished wood and stain what type of wood do you suggest?

    3. Given my situation do you think its best just to install a high quality vinyl plank or engineered wood that is wide and has a gray look i like?

    5) How wide do you recommend for a modern/contemporary look and resale value?

    6) What types of edges and ends do you recommend or a modern look and resale value? beveled, micro-beveled, eased, kissed, or square. I generally like a smooth surface with no grooves. If you recommend engineered vinyl planks or engineered wood which brands do you suggest to that have gray colors, wide planks and smooth edges/ends?

    Sorry for all the questions. This stuff is complicated stuff and you appear to be the most knowledgeable person online on this topic.


    1. David – Wow, lots of questions…and there are some competing priorities here, so I will do my best.

      Yes, I prefer solid over engineered and vinyl planks and they are better for resale value (and reduce time on market). But, since you have concrete, it complicates things, as I think you know. First, the ONLY way to install solid wood is to install over 3/4 plywood. and, this, obviously will cost extra – for materials + labor…and nailing into concrete is not so need hilties and these cost more. To figure out the cost, you’ll need to get an estimate from a contractor in your area. It varies based on location, but at least you are on East coast, so it tend to be less expensive compared to many other regions of the country (for hardwood).

      Second, you do need to look at height…and this may or may not rule out some options. The plywood will be 3/4″ and the solid wood 3/4, so 1.5 inches from subfloor. Of course you can remove current floor, but I don’t know how thick it is. (maybe 3/8″ – 1/2″). Check to make sure front door (and/or any exterior doors will open. If they don’t, you have a problem…although, theoretically, you could do tile in these areas. Check to see if kitchen appliances will fit…or else do tile or coretec plus there. (Recognize that if you do tile or coretec (or any other brand), you will have step up/step down. Check to see if there will be enough clearance for internal doors. If not, you will need to cut these and the door jambs. This is doable, but will cost extra. And, if you have metal that is much harder to do and you may want to avoid.

      Regarding costs, you will need to get estimates from local contractors so you know the differences in cost and can make an educated decision.

      Regarding Floor & Decor’s brand, it is lower quality than Coretec Plus. I would recommend Coretec Plus or Armstrong Luxe with Rigid Core (it may have slightly different name).

      Regarding gray, you probably are safer find a prefinished one rather than risking contractors who may not be able to get the look you want. The cost of wood will be higher, but you will save on refinishing costs, especially since you would need to use Bona Traffic which is more expensive.

      Regarding bevel…you want the least amount of bevel as possible. look at the wood…different companies use different terms. I would think that square edges are best, ideally with no bevel, but some without a bevel are constructed differently and look more like laminate. So look at the wood. Least amount of bevel is best – you don’t see underlying wood as much and less dirt gets caught and smoothest on you feet.

      Re: color, if you’re looking to sell in 7 years, you may want to consider going a bit more neutral vs. gray since gray may go out of style. But, if you can do solid, you can always refinish in 7 years if it is out of style.

      4 to 5 inches in most in style. If you go wider (which is fine, but not necessary), you need to make sure it’s not too wide for your space and the planks are long enough so that they don’t look chunky. If you are doing solid and it’s 5″ or wider, you need to both nail and glue, which costs more, so often 4″ in a good place to be. (not necessary on engineered).

      I hope this helps.

      1. Hi, thank you so much for your detailed response. I know I asked a lot of questions and you were so kind to answer all of them. Your advice was very valuable as well. I now know what to do if I either take the hardwood route or a product like Coretec Plus. I am thinking that just using Cortectec Plus throughout may be the easiest and least costly solution but I will know more once I contact some good contractors. Just curious…do you know any good contractors in Washington DC area? Regards Dave

  25. I have maple kitchen cabinets which have yellowed/orange too and natural oak floors. I feel like my space is one awful color now. I would love to paint my cabinets white, and then stain my floors dark. If I can’t find someone I trust to paint the cabinets, what options do I have for a darker floor stain. Every sample I have brought home simply make my cabinets seem more yellow. Thanks for any advice you can offer me!!!

    1. Yes, that would be a great combo. Unfortunately, you cabinets are yellow, so you have to fix the problem. And, you would want to contrast the floors as much as possible.

      You should be able to find a contractor who can paint them properly. I would not sacrifice the color of floors because of it. If you have to wait on the cabinets until you can find someone you trust,then do that.

  26. You have listed so much wonderful information. We had damage to our hardwood floors from broken glass and they were also stained a very dark, reddish tone at some point by previous owners (very messily I might add). We need to refinish them (per insurance co. & our mortgage company). I want to go with a natural/light color. I believe the floors are red oak, so I am hoping a lighter tone will look good. I have dealt with the dark wood for 17 years and it is NOT fun trying to keep it clean. If you have a white pet…. don’t do it. Trust me, you would be kicking yourself. Dark may be on trend, but I would only suggest it if you have someone who comes in to clean several days a week. My trim work is all stained dark as well, so my house looks so dark. I am not looking forward to the mess it will entail, but I am excited to have beautiful floors. My hardwood is in the foyer , steps (up and down since my house is a split foyer), rails, living room, hallway & two bedrooms. Lots of wood. Wish us luck!

    1. Brenda – Yes, dark isn’t for everyone, and light/natural is 2nd most popular. For sure it is easier to maintain. Also, I really don’t like dark trim either – it really does make the space look darker…and more dated. I prefer when the trim is white.

      Yes, good luck with your project. You’ll be happy to know that it’s a shorter process when you go natural. Also, if this is covered by insurance and you need to vacate the home, the insurance company will usually pay for the hotel bill so check on that.

  27. Glad to have found this site. Built house in 2005. We have 4″ ash hardwood floors in natural in foyer, dining room, living room and kitchen. They have aged and yellowed. Refinish starts next week, and a stain is needed. The kitchen cabinets are alder wood (have also aged). The walls have all been repainted and are a shade of off-white. There is plenty of light coming in. We are hearing we should go dark. Should we have gray tones? Thank you!

    1. Liz – You are much safer with the ark, especially with ash…and especially as it tends to yellow more than oak over time, so I don’t think it will look so nice.. I don’t know how well ash will take the gray. Also, your contractor should be using a conditioner before applying the stain for more even distribution of stain.

  28. I have small strip red oak select (1 1/2) in my formal rooms in front of house (foyer LR and DR). I would like to add hardwood in family room and master bedroom in back of house. The foyer does connect to these rooms in small hall between family room and master. Is it okay to put 3 1/4 width in these areas as long as I dtay with species and grade.

    1. Vivian – Yes, I would do 3 1/4″ same species, same grade. That looks much nicer and ironically is cheaper. I see this all the time here in houses built in the 60s. I think it’s better to do 3 1/4″ vs 2 1/4″ inch as going wider looks purposeful vs 2 1/4 sometimes looks like a mistake.

  29. Hi I’m looking for a contemporary gray/brown combination of Minwax stains for my red oak floors I really want the orange out of my floors and I don’t want it to look traditional like my mothers floors. DO you know any popular combinations that I can try? I Have many of the sample colors here thanks!

    1. Denise – First, I would use Duraeal rather than minwax. Second, if you have red oak, you may want to bleach it first, especially if you plan to do mid to lighter color. Third, for the brown, I would look at special walnut, antique brown and dark walnut pending on how dark you want. For the gray, we typically do Bona white + Duraseal ebony. You will need to experiment with the mixes until you get your desired color.

  30. In my bedroom i have wood flooring that is a mixture of dark brown and red, the wood is matte and shiny; satin? Right now i have a lighter beige/yellow wall color. My goal is to make my room look more bright and youthful. could you help with what wall colors i should put in my room?

    1. Bri – If you’d like to sign up for a quick phone consultations, feel free to sign up. Then you can text me a picture and I can probably find some good paint color choices for you. (you can just fill in the contact us form). It’s not expensive and you can then use my designer discount for the paint which will probably more than offset the costs.

      1. Responded to another post, but this one seems more active…Been reading your blog top to bottom! Have 500 sq LR narrow plank pre-finished Bruce gunstock; adding 500 sq new floor to kitchen, DR, foyer (two steps down). Should I replace the LR floors and do all new throughout with wide planks? Will stripping LR and doing gray be a problem or should i use pre-finished gray? White kitchen, modern LR.

        1. Suzy – This is challenging to answer as it really depends on your budget (as well as which species you have). Obviously, it will look nicer and more uniform if you replace all of it. But, I also think it’s fine to do the new area in wider plank.

          This also depends on which species of wood you have in LR. Is it red oak or white oak? Unfortunately Bruce historically uses both species, based on which wood is on hand and less expensive at the time and sometimes even mix them. It is much more challenging to stain red oak gray (and you often need to bleach the floors first).

          Re: refinish on site or prefinished, this really depends on if you are replacing whole area or not and whether you have a refinisher who is experienced with gray (and budget). If you are not replacing LR, then you will want to use unfinished wood for new area to match the species and grade you have in LR. (Also bear in mind you will probably need to refinish the 2 steps).

          If you replace the wood, then do whichever you prefer, but bear in mind you will probably need to refinish the steps and they may not match, especially if they are a different species.

          So, I can only give you the things to think about. I can’t give you the answer as it depends. I would get a local flooring place to come to your home to help you identify what you have and the best options for you.

  31. This is a fabulous guide to the hardwood flooring trends of this year. The Farmhouse style combined with cool toned woods is truly stunning and combines tradition with modernity beautifully. Great blog!

  32. Thank you for your prompt reply. I agree that its Risky to strip and restain living room and am fine with new floors throughout. My new dilemma is that I prefer darker floors (graphite/ebony), but am afraid it will be be too much for whole lower level. Ok for white kitchen but how about LR black furniture on white rug and black carpet on stairs?
    Do you ever come to Long Island?

  33. Hi Debbie: I came back to read your 2019 updates to flooring trends. Regarding hardwood I have noticed in Hawaii that many people shy away from it because they are worried about termites in the tropics. Strand bamboo is also much sturdier, does not dent and you can whack it with a hammer, and in Hawaii, the adhesive it is laced with tends to discourage wood-eating insects as they don’t like the glue.

    1. Elizabeth – Interesting. Hawaii is a lot warmer than most areas of US as it’s so warm. Interesting perspective on the bamboo adhesive that repels the termites. But, it would not be my first choice as it’s probably not the best for humans and certainly not pets. While strand woven is better than regular bamboo, it still doesn’t seem to hold up that well. Also, if you use engineered wood that is glued down, it would probably be a bit safer and more durable.

    1. Oh good, I’m so glad to hear this Russell. Yes, if you do buy a home in the New York/Connecticut area, hardwood floors are the way to go. As you’ll see, most homes here already have hardwood flooring and then it’s just a matter of finding the most stylish color.

    1. I would either do very dark or very light to contrast with it. Dark would be ebony/dark walnut + oil based poly; light would be natural (i.e. no stain) and water borne polyurethane. If do a color in the middle, it will compete and probably clash. Don’t do reds. I hope that helps.

  34. I have 2 1/4 inch white oak floors. I would like to have larger plank but my floors are in good shape so it doesnt male sense to replace them. I do like a more modern look. Can I achieve this look of I refinish and go darker with less shine?

    1. Debby – Yes, absolutely. It can be very expensive (and inconvenient) to replace your floors. The color is what’s most important. Dark (especially very dark) is most popular and it give you a modern look. I’d do either a satin or even matte finish.

  35. HELP HELP! American cherry wide plank floors, want to get rid of the orange/yellow awful look. Do not want to be very dark, but medium dark, even add some grey if necessary, would be great. How to tone down the red/yellow undertones? Any guidance would be great. Would love to be educated before the contractors arrive next week to get started.

    1. Hi Debra – So first, let me start by saying, you need to make sure the refinishers know what they are doing.

      If you want mid brown, they need do bleach first. Then, choose the brown stain you prefer. You’ll have to choose the brown you prefer (try dark walnut (prob the best), jacobean (has a bit of red undertones, but still dark brown), antique brown (has some red undertones), or mix of dark walnut/special walnut (my 2nd choice). But, you may need to look at of these on the cherry w/ the bleach as they all look different vs oak.

      Alternatively, if you don’t want bleach, you other alternative is go as dark as possible. Either dark walnut (comes out darker than ebony on cherry) or dark walnut mixed with some true black (which is more opaque).

      First option is more difficult to do but should give you more of the look you want.

      Test a lot of options.

    1. Daisy – It really depends on what you like and how much light you’re getting. If you want to go dark, I would try 50/50 blend of dark walnut/ebony. If you want to go light, I’d recommend natural (i.e. no stain) with Bona Traffic HD (this will get rid of the yellow. I hope that helps.

      Also, if you want to help me out, feel free to buy me a coffee here:

  36. Is it okay to have gloss hardwoods joining matte finish? I have gloss in my kitchen
    En and want hardwood i family room. But could only find same flooring in a matte finish.

    1. Brenda – I suppose you could, but I don’t think it looks very good. It looks like a mistake when you change the finishes. I’m surprised that you have glossy in the kitchen as it shows everything and isn’t very practical, especially for kitchens. (and, it’s very dated). Is it solid hardwood? I would probably see if you can get unfinished hardwood and then sand and refinish both areas to match and do with a satin finish.

  37. I am beginning a kitchen remodel in a 90 year old home. Was thinking about tile, but the look I really want is wood. Your webpage had some of the most comprehensive info. I have found. Thank you! As you stated is popular, I am putting in shaker cabinets and looking for a clean look. Have painted gray/green cabinets. Will go with a darker floor. If you were putting wood floors in your kitchen what species would you use? I have read about impregnated acrylics hardwoods suggested for kitchens. Do you agree?

    1. Meredith – great choices and I love that color combo. I would do white oak as its more water resilient than red oak and more stylish. It also gives you a broader span of colors you can use both now and in the future. No, I would not do an impregnanted wood at all as you won’t be able to sand and refinish. And, in a kitchen, It’s critical that you can sand and refinish. In fact, it’s important for almost all areas of the home (except the basement where you can’t use that).

  38. Great article lots of information. We are currently redoing our floors and have about 3 rooms done. I wish I had come across this sooner. Would have made the millions options so much easier????.

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