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When choosing hardwood floors for your home, take into account more than just the species and stain of the wood you want to use for flooring. Think about how it will look installed in different patterns and designs as well as with finishing touches like borders, mosaic medallions and decorative borders.

Hardwood Floor Customization: Board Width and Installation Patterns

People often have to brace themselves as they begin the overwhelming process of shopping for the perfect hardwood floors for their home, yet they start to breathe easy once they have that ideal sample clasped tightly in their hands. But, what exactly are you going to do with that wood? It's clear that you've thought about the wood species and stain, as those factors most obviously effect the look and feel of the room, but have you thought about the board width or installation pattern or decorative touches...?

Don't panic. Keep clasping your sample of hardwood and read about your options. You'll realize that you know what you want better than you thought.

Board width:

Board width can be divided into two categories, strip and plank. Strip is less than 3" wide and plank is greater than 3" wide, usually getting as wide as 7" and sometimes even wider.

Strip flooring can be used to create almost any look by putting together the right combination of species, stain, installation pattern and furnishing. Strip flooring creates a running, linear effect that, much like a mirror or light paint colors, gives the illusion of a larger space. This makes it particularly appropriate if you are trying to achieve a contemporary look in your room, especially if you choose a select grade hardwood with a uniform color. It is the more common flooring option seen in both commercial and residential applications.

Plank flooring, with its wide boards, is more commonly used when trying to achieve a rustic or country look in the space. It too creates a linear effect in the room but the width of the boards doesn’t expand the space as significantly. Although traditionally made from pine and thought of as the floor used in old farm houses or colonial homes, designers are starting to acknowledge the beauty of this option for contemporary designs as well.

 

Installation patterns:

The installation pattern you choose for your space can have as much weight on the resultant look as the actual wood you put in. It will influence the way furniture will sit and the movement in the room. Although there aren't that many options, they are vastly different from each other, so choose well.

The most basic and common installation pattern is straight. Wood boards are installed parallel to each other along the length or width of the room. This pattern is great for simple, contemporary designs as well as any other design that wants to use the beautiful look of wood flooring without showy installations - this pattern lets the wood speak for itself. This is also the least expensive of the available installation patterns, as it is the most straight-forward. All other patterns are more costly because of extra wood and longer installation costs.

Random installation is also installed in a straight-forward, parallel pattern but it uses a mixture of floor board widths. You can choose the ratio of wide to narrow boards, what widths you want to use, and how many boxes of each to purchase. This gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of shopping and could save you money if, for example, you buy left over boxes from discontinued series. This patterns often results in a rustic looking space, it adds a lot of movement to the room and gives it an energetic feel.

Diagonal pattern installation adds a touch of luxury and formality to a room without straying too far from traditional straight installation or adding too much to your final remodeling bill. Boards are installed parallel to each other but they are laid at a 45 degree angle to the walls.

Parquet pattern installation is in some ways a lost art. Parquet installation is the laying of wood in a repeated geometric pattern, often resulting in a floor that has the appearance of a checkerboard, sometimes with more complex patterns within each checkerboard square. The options for patterns are practically limitless. This pattern gives a room a very distinct and sophisticated look reminiscent of European grandeur. Traditional parquet installation is expensive and rare. It has now been replaced with prefabricated square modules with parquet patterns laid out in a wood veneer.

In a Herringbone pattern, strips of wood flooring are laid in a diagonal zigzag plan that looks like its name says. This pattern can be laid out in the traditional manner or with square modules, like the parquet designs. It gives the space a formal look reminiscent of old European flats as well as museum halls.

Any of the listed installation patterns can be complemented or finished off with a perimeter border or other decorative touches like mosaics. These can be made out of wood, natural stone or alternative materials like glass and metal tiles. The perimeter border frames the room in which it is installed, a feature that works to separate the room from adjacent spaces and add formality to it. Inlays like mosaics add custom individuality to a room and help to significantly sway the style of a room towards the classic, while still leaving you space to flex when choosing the design of the actual mosaic medallion or decorative border.

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This page was last updated on 3/8/2014