If you’re considering a new hardwood floor, don’t underestimate the dramatic visual power of the right flooring pattern. Decorative patterns began to emerge in American homes in the 1980s, although most designs have been around for much longer. The Ancient Romans, for example, preferred herringbone patterns for their superior stability, while chevron-patterned floors were used extensively in the Palace of Versailles and were a favorite among European royalty. Today, there are many flooring patterns to consider, each with its own benefits and appeal.
Straight patterns consist of wood planks laid parallel to one another in straight lines. Straight-patterned floors are a great choice for open floor plans and rectangular rooms, and make most rooms look bigger. A straight pattern that follows the long wall makes a space look longer, while following the short wall can make a space seem wider. Make sure that the joints between planks are staggered in random intervals, and avoid creating a “stairstep” or “H” pattern with the joints, as this draws the eye to the joints and distracts from the natural beauty of the wood.
Diagonal flooring patterns are similar to straight patterns, except that instead of being parallel to the wall, the planks are placed at an angle. A 45-degree angle is most common, but you could use a different angle to create a unique look or to complement a challenging space. Diagonal floors generally make spaces appear larger, which makes them a good option for dark finishes. They’re an excellent choice for non-rectangular rooms, or rooms with walls that aren’t perfectly straight.
In this pattern, planks are placed at a 90-degree angle to each other, and the joints are mitered to create a V shape. Chevron flooring patterns create a striking visual effect that evokes a luxurious, contemporary feel, and are functionally very sturdy. Chevron patterns can be laid either parallel or diagonally to the wall, though laying them diagonally can make a room seem bigger.
Like chevron floors, planks in a herringbone pattern are placed at 90-degree angles; however, the planks in a herringbone pattern overlap, rather than being mitered. Herringbone is a statement pattern with loads of visual interest but is more practical and less dramatic than the strong lines of a chevron pattern. Herringbone flooring patterns can be laid diagonal or parallel to the wall. From a functional standpoint, this is the strongest and most durable flooring design. It's beautiful in open spaces, although the pattern can overwhelm very small rooms.
“Parquet” comes from the French word for “compartments.” Parquet patterns typically involve small pieces of wood pieced together like tiles. They can use geometric designs, such as a basketweave pattern, or be more random or artistic. This type of flooring installation is highly unique and creates a powerful visual statement, although labor can be costly.
There are many other variables that homeowners can utilize to fully customize any of these flooring patterns. Plank width, for example, can vary from 1.5-inch strips to 8-inch planks or wider. Using a combination of planks and strips is an easy way to add visual interest to your floor. Borders and accent areas can draw the eye away from certain features or accentuate others. Borders can be used to frame rooms or parts of rooms, or to ease the transition between two rooms.
Hardwood flooring is an excellent investment that is currently more popular than ever. A unique installation pattern is an excellent way to add interest and beauty to your new floor and to upgrade the look and feel of your entire room. With so many material options, finishes, and flooring patterns to choose from, homeowners can easily create custom floors to perfectly complement and enhance any space.