When we’re talking flooring, you’ve got an awful lot of choices for material, ranging from hardwood to vinyl, but when it comes to tone, things get simpler. You’re either going dark, medium, or light. Go crazy on tones, but at the end of the day, you’re basically picking from those three ranges.
Which is right for you? It heavily depends, largely on the overall aesthetic of the rest of your house. However, actually evaluating what fits where can be more difficult than you’d expect. Here’s some solid, non-nonsense advice for making a choice between dark and light stains and materials
Matching Isn’t Always the Right Call
It seems like interior decoration 101 – like attracts like. In reality, that’s an easy mindset to adopt, and it will help you in some circumstances, but it can bite you when you’re searching for flooring. Light-on-light and dark-on-dark can work, but they’re not strictly advised.
Think about it for a moment. If you have white walls, would you really want a white floor to match? Same for dark brown or black (check this site for Utah flooring companies for a couple decent examples of like on like) . Either way, you risk creating an overwhelming impression, one that you’ll have to bust up with intelligent decoration.
Save yourself the trouble; aim to complement, not copy. Look for differing tones that blend nicely with your walls. One of my favorites is actually a mid-grain mahogany against white walls. It makes for a striking disparity, but not a jarring one.
Maintenance vs. Aesthetic
As you may have noticed, dark floors are very, very in right now, especially for wood. Sure, you’ll find a few people sticking to their red oak (and more power to them), or making a jump to nouveau materials such as bamboo, but for most folks, dark earth tones have been the natural choice.
All well and good, but that same popularity has caused a bit of a backlash, and probably a well-deserved one. Dark floors are gorgeous when properly maintained, but show wear, tear, and dirt much more easily than their lighter cousins.
It might be a little hard to wrap your head around, but think of how easily black tables show imperfections. Even tiny scuffs catch light, making them shinily obvious. Dust and dirt also tends to stand out with embarrassing clarity. I’m not advocating that you ditch your dark floors by any means. After all, if they fit your aesthetic, that’s the end of the argument, but just be ready to do some extra scrubbing.
Keep Lighting In Mind
This one takes a little imagination, but it’s all the more important for it. Dark and light flooring are at their most disparate when their in a room that receives large amounts of natural light. They just interact so differently. Granted, highly polished darker surfaces are still very reflective, but not nearly to the extent of lighter ones.
My personal preference? It might sound a bit funny, but if you’re dealing with a lot of east-facing windows, I say go dark. I like the way morning light interacts with darker grains – a bit of a softer start to the day, as it were. Catch western light? Light wood suddenly looks a lot nicer. That warmer, softer glow soaks into dark wood, but can really brighten a room up in the evening with a lighter stain.
Granted, it’s easy to make the exact opposite argument – some people are just going to like different sort of light. I’m mostly making this point to let you know that the two options treat light very differently, and it’s something you need to keep in mind while making a decision.
The big question though? What color is the rest of your house? The walls? The furniture? No matter how much you may like one option over another, the first check is always to find something that meshes with the rest of your home.