A Short Word About Wood: The Secret of Floor Colours

During the rule of England’s King Henry VIII, wood was considered good luck, hence the phrase we still use today “knock on wood”.

‎Although we may not view wood as “lucky” today, both solid and engineered prefinished hardwood continues to be the flooring of choice for homes in North America. With such a ubiquitous material lets talk wood and what its wide range of colour options can do to your space!

This is not a commentary on wood performance or brand, simply a designer’s view on what I recommend colour-wise to clients. And remember, if actual wood won’t work in certain applications; be sure to look at porcelain “wood” tiles, as they are amazing! Check out //cercantile.com for great wood-looking tiles!

Gone are the days of high-gloss and thin-plank hardwood. Seen here: Wide-planked hardwood floors set on a diagonal pattern. Photo by John Heineman

Gone are the days of high-gloss and thin-plank hardwood. Seen here: Wide-planked hardwood floors set on a diagonal pattern. Photo by John Heineman

Dark Hardwood

Dark hardwoods have been trending for the last 7 to 10 years and for some, it will remain a staple. I like Vintage’s, //www.vintageflooring.com, ‘Gotham’ or Mercier Wood Flooring’s, //www.mercier-wood-flooring.com/en, ‘Chocolate Brown’. Almost all flooring companies make a nice rich brown so this is easy to find.

Bottom line: Dark woods are more formal as they add contrast to a room particularly with white trim. They require more cleaning if you live in the city (urban dust!) or if you have pets. Plus, they can show scratches more than lighter woods if their finish is smooth or glossy. ‎

Light wood floors

This category has suffered much disdain after the 1980s, but look for a return to lighter woods. Unlike the shiny yellow wood floors of the “big hair” decade, grayer-blonde woods are the colour-de-jour. Look for this colour in Vintage’s ‘Orion’ or Kentwood’s, https://kentwoodfloors.com/ca/, ‘Halfmoon Bay’ as light options without the amber undertone. If you are

looking for a really wide board with a natural texture, check out Northern Wide Plank, //northernwideplank.ca. Their range of light floors is


On the cutting edge of design today is white stained hardwood. It’s not for everyone, but it works well with farmhouse or vintage styles. ‎An example is Kährs’, HXJLPeyton//pro.kahrs.com/en/ChooseLanguage/?redirect=no, ‘Oak Limestone’. This painted rustic finish will look more weathered over time (so keep this in mind if you want the floor to remain pristine!).

Bottom line: Light floors can be more casual and easier to care for as they tend to hide marks, fluff and dust better than darker colours. They can reflect light to brighten a room but if you have a lot of dirt tracking in from outdoors, forget the white and go for blonde instead.‎

Medium-hue hardwoods

This range includes cognacs, gunstock, medium brown, or antique brown: basically anything in the colour of lightly steeped tea. This family has a lot of variety and is less susceptible to trends as it’s in the mid-range of contrast (neither really light or really dark). I like Torlys’, //www.torlys.com, ‘Langford Smoked Oak’ as it’s not too ‘orange’ ‎which many people dislike today as trends lean to taupes and grays in home furnishings. Also, have a look at Satin Flooring’s, //www.satinflooring.com, ‘Bourbon’.

Bottom line: Medium wood floors aren’t as dramatic as a white or espresso floor, so other items in the room need to be stronger to give the room punch. ‎ But watch that your floor doesn’t get too red, pinkish or orange as it can then become a strong feature that makes other decorating choices more difficult.

Gray wood floors

Much has been made about the progression of gray as a hardwood hue but the bigger trend here is the influence gray has had on existing brown and blonde colours, knocking out the previous orange and amber undertones. Kentwood’s ‘Glace Bay’ or ‘Gray’s Harbor’ are both excellent gray options.

Bottom line: Gray wood floors are a new look and can be less intense than blonde or espresso. This colour is trendier and could wane in popularity over time, so pick it if you love it and don’t care what designers (like me!) have to say!‎

A Word on Style: Wire Brushed or Hand Scraped?

‎Gone are the days of high gloss and thin-plank hardwood. Now it’s all about wide boards, excellent wear and easy maintenance. Two popular wood finishes are wire-brushed and hand-scraped.

Wire-brushed is almost matte with a strong grain texture, but with no undulations ‎in the surface. This style works well in a wide plank format for a modern feel. Make sure there is still a good clear-coat on the wood or you may find small flecks of dust will settle in the grain and ‘stick’.

Hand scraped finishes have a textured or planed surface that helps to deflect light and will hide scratches and small nicks far better than smooth or shiny wood floors. If you want a dark wood with low maintenance, this is the way to go.


About the Author: Jane Lockhart is Founder & Principal Designer, Jane Lockhart Interior Design

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