Light or Dark Flooring? Everything You Should Consider When Choosing.

You may have decided on the type of flooring you’d like to install, and you may even have an immediate inclination toward a style, texture, or a pattern. But now you’re wondering whether it should be on the lighter end of the spectrum or the darker end. While choosing a flooring shade is often a matter of personal taste, there are some factors worth considering beyond simple preference.

How Lighter or Darker Flooring Affects Room Size

Is the surface area where you need new flooring large or small? As a rule of thumb, darker-toned flooring will tend to make the overall surface area seem smaller while lighter flooring may give the impression of a larger area.

Many decorators and designers prefer darker-toned flooring in homes with more open floor plans that have larger rooms or adjoining rooms, like a living and dining room or a great room. If you choose a darker floor for that reason, you may want keep the color of your walls lighter and more neutral in color. You may also want to be sure that you have adequate lighting in the room or install the darker flooring in a large room that has several windows where natural light can brighten it up. Too much darkness or bold wall colors can make a room with dark flooring seem confining and oppressive. With a lighter flooring color, you may have more options with more colorful wall treatments, as well as with bold solid fabric colors on furniture, especially in homes with a more modern décor.

If you choose to go with a darker hardwood flooring, then natural or strategically-placed lighting will also help to bring out the wood grain pattern flooring planks, giving a room a rich and more fascinating appeal.

Your Kitchen Cabinetry

White kitchen cabinets with hardwood floorsCompare and contrast. That’s the prevailing design approach with selecting the color and shade of flooring in kitchens. Thus, if the kitchen cabinetry is white or a very light color, then a darker surface floor will help to showcase it. Conversely, if the cabinetry is black or a darker solid color, then a lighter-colored or even neutral white or light gray flooring surface will showcase the cabinetry.

Obviously, with kitchen flooring, you want something that can also take some punishment, wear and tear, spills, or even overflows of water. The choices you have in either lighter or darker flooring surfaces – whether hardwood, waterproof luxury vinyl, tile or laminate are virtually endless. The important thing is selecting the right color of flooring when placed next to your cabinetry. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring in one of your kitchen cabinet doors in its final color to our showroom or place some flooring samples next to the cabinetry in your home to see what stands out as the best selection.

Your Furniture

As a general rule, most furniture can look good no matter what shade the flooring happens to be, given the tastefully-chosen décor, draperies, artwork, indoor plants, or area rugs. In fact, a lot of homeowners have acquired different styles of furniture over the years, so their décor may not be exclusively one period or style but a mix of periods and styles. Most medium or darker hardwood flooring actually complements rooms that have more eclectic furnishings.

For those rooms with more traditional furnishings, whether early American, English, or French classic dining room sets, china cabinets, coffee tables, bookcases, side tables, floral-patterned sofas, solid-colored or patterned wing chairs, or a medium-toned or dark leather sofas and chairs — darker hardwood flooring, often with red tones, like a Brazilian Cherry, tends to enhance the elegance of the room and make it warm and inviting.

Dark Hardwood in Family RoomBlack, coffee, or ebony-wood furniture is quite versatile and looks great with light, medium-toned or even darker hardwood flooring.

For those with more modern décor and furnishings with steel or chrome, or homes with concrete walls or countertops, and bold fabric colors on chairs or sofas, often a lighter shade of hardwood or even laminate or vinyl flooring (depending on the room and its uses) can enhance the clean and austere impression the home was originally designed to convey.

Keep in mind that you can also add a colorful area rug where necessary to tie in the furniture on the flooring you’ve chosen, whether light or dark. We offer a wide selection of area rugs and can make custom-sized or -shaped area rugs from high quality carpet remnants to complete any room you’re decorating.

Scratches, Cleaning, Polishing and Maintenance

For more practical considerations, like cleaning and maintenance, lighter hardwood or waterproof luxury vinyl floor surfaces don’t show dust, dirt, crumbs, or other debris as readily as darker hardwood flooring surfaces do. If you choose a darker shade of hardwood or even vinyl, be prepared to sweep it clean more frequently. Some medium-toned or dark woods that have a satin-stained finish may hide dirt more effectively and also help to diminish any scratches that may have occurred.

Most hardwood flooring is made of lighter-colored wood and the darker shades of hardwood are typically achieved through staining the top layer. This is one of the reasons that when a darker hardwood floor is scratched, that the scratch becomes more noticeable, because a lower layer of lighter wood is exposed. That alone may steer you to choose a lighter hardwood floor.

But if you’re set on a darker shade of hardwood, there are preventative measures you can take to minimize scratching and scarring. For example, removing your shoes in the house or applying adhesive-backed felt pads to the bottom of chair legs, sofas and other furniture.

For noticeable scratches there are waxes and solutions available in colors that can closely match the color of your flooring and can hide them on a more permanent basis. You can find them at your nearby hardware store and if you have an extra sample of your flooring after it was installed, bring it along to the store to make sure the stain treatment you get is as close a match as you can get.

While we’re on the subject of scratches, it’s well-known that a dog’s nails can easily scratch hardwood. If you’ve got a large breed dog or two (or more), you may want to consider a lighter hardwood flooring surface where the scratches aren’t so noticeable; or even a waterproof luxury vinyl surface like Pergo Extreme® that’s designed to take that kind of punishment.

Visit Our Showroom in Anaheim

With any flooring type there is a wide spectrum of shades available, and you shouldn’t simply rely on a photograph to make your final flooring decision. We invite you to stop by our beautiful showroom and select several different samples in various gradations of shades and tones, to see which one is best suited for your home. A New York Carpets & Flooring representative will be happy to help you find just the right shade of flooring — whether light, dark or somewhere in between.

1225 South State College Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92806
(714) 778-3585