“Light or dark hardwood floors” is the most common question homeowners ask, whether about staining the existing hardwood floors or installing new ones. Because homeowners often wonder which flooring color can hide scratches or make the room look smaller/bigger.
Before moving toward the comparison, let me tell you, according to Hardwoodfloorsmag’s 2023 industry outlook, darker color floorings have a downward trend while lighter color floorings have the opposite. Additionally, grey color floors are almost out of demand.
Having the right color for your hardwood floors can be challenging, especially when considering the overall decor you are going for. Many differences between light and dark hardwood floors aren’t just limited to appearance. However, I believe it’s up to the homeowner on which color he is going with. My job here is to provide you with a detailed comparison.
Natural Light Discoloration
Natural light adds character and gives the dark-tone hardwood floors an elegant look. If your room gets lots of natural light and UV rays, it can bleach dark wood and light hardwood floors. It happens due to many chromophoric elements present in the wood.
However, dark wood floors absorb more light and fade more than light wood floors, as shades that absorb more sunlight tend to fade more. In non-technical terms, if you want a floor that discolors less due to natural light, go for lighter color wood floor.
In the above section, I’ve said dark woods fade faster than lighter woods. However, The fading in lighter woods is more noticeable. That’s why it’s better to have darker wood floors in the room that gets more natural light.
Response to Dirt and Debris
While some may have the assumption that darker colors tend to attract more dust, that is not the case. Dark floors absorb sunlight, whereas dust reflects light (due to being light-colored) – making the dust more visible on darker surfaces. You need to Swiffer it frequently.
On the other hand, light-toned hardwood floors make the dust less noticeable. Nevertheless, if a lot of dirt accumulates on the surface, it’ll be clearly visible no matter which toned wood floor you use. For example, light-colored hardwood floors can’t hide dark debris.
Look at this dark floor,
See how clearly dust is visible on it.
Dealing with Scratches
Before deciding the color of the hardwood, consider the foot traffic the hardwood will be going through. Are there children in the house? Are there any pets? The more foot traffic there is, the more chances of your floors showing scuffing.
Pets tend to bring in dirt and dust from outside, and their claws can scratch the surface of the hardwood. If you plan on starting a family or have pets – a light-colored hardwood floor will hide most scuffs, dust, and scratches. Additionally, you can hide these minor scratches with our DIY-friendly tips.
On the other hand, dark-colored hardwood flooring can show scratches, dust, and dirt quite easily.
Dark hardwood flooring is better at hiding imperfections like hardwood floor gaps, knots, & water stains. However, it’s the opposite for lighter floors.
Influence on Room Space
The color of your flooring can aid in making your rooms appear either larger or smaller visually. You may notice that an overwhelmingly dark house can appear smaller or have a tight atmosphere because dark floors absorb light.
On the other hand, light-colored flooring can make your room appear bigger than it is by accenting natural light. Light colors reflect natural light, making the room appear brighter.
However, If you have an open floor plan, dark floors go exceptionally well with it. As the rooms are spacious, they can easily absorb the dark floor’s tone. However, dark flooring should be avoided in smaller spaces.
Look & Feel
Research by Ji Young Cho & Joori Suh says dark floors create a more luxurious feel than light colors. Hence, while dark-colored hardwood flooring makes the room more cozy, it looks elegant, classy, warmer, and traditional.
On the other hand, light-colored hardwood flooring can create a natural, modern, cooler, and casual space.
Blending with the furniture
Both the wood tones match nicely with opposite contract furniture. Technically, warmer-tone floors complement cooler-tone furniture and vice-versa.
For example, dark wood floors match most light-tone furniture aesthetically. Similarly, dark-colored furniture goes well with a light-colored hardwood floor.
Blending with the Cabinet
The color of your flooring can complement the color of the cabinet. Some may like their flooring to match the colors of their cabinets, but that is not really necessary. For example, dark wood flooring can complement light wood cabinets.
Both the wood flooring attracts scratches, gaps, and other imperfections. However, lighter shade wood floors are better at camouflaging these scratches and gaps than dark wood flooring. As I described in the upper sections, lighter-colored wood floors are better at hiding dirt and dust, reducing the frequency of hardwood floor cleaning. As a result, low maintenance.
Floor Tone & House Style
Traditional styles such as American colonial, revolutionary, and French Country would go great with darker hardwood floors. Asian styles and Indian styles are also good choices. Dark hardwood floors can provide a stunning contrast to the white interior in a contemporary design.
Contemporary and modern interior styles will look great with a light-colored hardwood floor. Industrial, mid-century modern, and Scandinavian styles all have neutral palettes that go well with light-colored floors. Coastal styles will also go well with light-colored wood floors.
Hardwood floors are an investment, but the returns can change based on trends, for better or worse.
Selecting the color of the hardwood floor can merely be a matter of personal tastes. However, dark-colored hardwood flooring has been trendy for quite a while now, meaning you will likely get a better return if you have dark-colored hardwood flooring.
This is not to say that light-colored wood flooring is not a good investment, just that a dark-colored hardwood floor will be more profitable due to the current trends.
Hardwoods get scratched or dented over a period of time. It’s easier in dark hardwood to hide scratches using touch-ups of Sharpie. Because, in dark hardwoods, a closely matching Sharpie color can do the job. However, on light hardwood floors, the color of the touch-up should closely match the floor else it would be clearly visible if the touch-up shade is slightly different than the light wood color.
We know that the aesthetics of the flooring depend on your tastes and preferences – dark floors take the spotlight, and light floors enhance the decor. But aside from these primary qualities, there’s a lot more that the color of flooring can change.
For example, the aesthetic of the interior design can change, for better or worse, depending on the color of the flooring. Light hardwood floors may not go well with light kitchen or bathroom cabinets, and dark hardwood floors may not go well with dark kitchen or bathroom cabinets – but here’s what would look good.
The installation cost for both black and light hardwood planks costs the same. Additionally, if the hardwood floors are pre-finished, both types of flooring would cost the same.
However, the actual cost varies on their maintenance. As dark floors require more maintenance, they cost more than light floors in the long run.
Lighter color walls suit darker hardwood floors and vice versa. wikiHow has a good guide on matching floor color to the wall space design.
So, Light or Dark Hardwood Floor?
In short, It depends. The selection of the color of your hardwood does depend on your tastes. Houzz.com ran a poll regarding this, and the result was surprising. It’s 50-50.
When selecting between dark and light hardwood, there are many things to consider, as both colors provide their benefits and drawbacks regarding certain factors. Whatever you choose, have them in a sample, as printed samples will differ from the actual wood samples.
Can I Have Both?
Yes, Having two different color floors in the house is completely fine.
No, having light and dark floors in the same room doesn’t make sense.
If you want to use dark and light floors in different house rooms, you can use transition strips between the rooms. Additionally, you can explore the upsides and downsides I mentioned above while installing different color floors in different rooms. I suggest keeping the same color floor throughout the house from an aesthetic perspective.
Are Dark Floors Going out Of Trend?
While I told you initially that light hardwood floors get the highest sales, and the demand has increased than dark hardwood floors, it’s not going out of trend. Each of the variants has its own fan base. That’s what the poll from Houzz has concluded. If someone is okay with scratches and pet hairs for a luxury floor, he can go for dark floors. It’s completely his choice.
Look at this dark floor,
It may not look as dark due to the sunlight. However, this floor pairs extremely well with grey walls. I want to say that you have to choose the color that can match your wall, furniture, traffic, pet hair, etc.
Hardwood Floor Color By Room
You can have light or dark wood flooring in the living room. However, if the room gets lots of natural light, consider choosing a hardwood that fades slower. Additionally, dark wood floors are okay for the living room as they are spacious.
Always match the hardwood flooring in the hallway as the living room.
Wait! Wood floors in the bathroom? Yes, having wood floors in the bathroom is completely okay if they are properly sealed and finished. Moreover, Don’t let water/moisture sit on them. Now about the color, the bathroom is small; hence, the light wood floor will make it spacious. Also, it can hide dust and light debris better than the dark.
You can’t avoid the mess in the kitchen. Lighter hardwood floors can those spice spills and crumbs.
Both colors are suitable for bedrooms. If you think dark flooring makes your room too dark, you can always cover them with light-colored carpet rugs. The bed and carpet take up more than 70% of your room; hence floor color hardly matters.