What’s new in hardwood flooring this year? What spectacular colors, textures, materials and finishes are trending in 2021?
2021 hardwood flooring trends are the topic.
Why hardwood? Hardwood flooring has long been the standard against which all other flooring types are compared. Offering naturally beautiful good looks, great durability, and competitive prices considering it lasts 50 years, hardwood flooring has a variety of advantages.
Is Hardwood Traditional but Out of Date?
A little bit. But never discount the ability of the hardwood flooring industry to find its way back to the top. It’s getting there fast with intriguing hardwood flooring trends for 2021.
Various materials, both natural stuff like bamboo, and man-made products like luxury vinyl plank and tile (LVP and LVT) and, have revolutionized the flooring business in the last decade. Hardwood flooring now finds itself playing catch-up with the new looks of concrete, marble, tile, vinyl, laminate and others.
In 2021, hardwood flooring responds to that competition with new offerings of colors, textures, finishes, patterns, materials, and exotic “treatments,” all of which are designed to keep hardwood flooring front and center in American homes.
Trend 1: Whiter, Brighter Hardwood Floors in 2021
A big hardwood flooring trend of 2019 was extreme light and dark color contrast, with shades of gray.
In 2021, the color trend is toward lighter-colored floors, including whitewashed and weathered looks.
Following the open floor plan trend in home building, lighter floors make a home feel spacious and airy. Blonde wood complements larger flooring fields especially well, easily invoking country to contemporary living while remaining classic.
What are the best blonde woods? Stains are more difficult to use with lighter colors, so we recommend choosing a wood floor that’s already blonde. Those commonly used for blonde hardwood flooring are bamboo, white oak, red oak, maple, and ash.
Over the last ten years, gray flooring has been triple trendy. 2021 is no different!
Gray hardwood flooring is cool and contemporary – or in the right plank width and treatment, such as a broad, handscraped floor, can have classic good looks too. Any style, color, or era of furniture looks great against a smooth,
Whitewash – or is it Sun Bleached?
Coming to your neighborhood in 2021 directly from sunny California is the whitewashed hardwood flooring look.
The “whitewash” effect is intended to look worn, with a matte finish, and darker wood showing slightly from underneath the color treatment. It gives a great “West Coast beach bungalow” effect and is excellent for farmhouse kitchens, relaxed. living rooms, a mancave and more.
As with blonde hardwood flooring, whitewash makes a home look bigger, brighter and warmer. Depending on the surrounding decorations and furniture, whitewash flooring can be casual or contemporary. And it makes bold colors really pop.
Trend 2: Hardwood Floors with High Variation Eclecticism – But Buyer Beware
Light, dark, stressed, knotted, wide, narrow, long, short, scratched; no two pieces of natural wood look the same. High variation hardwood flooring looks like the original wood. Manufacturers shape the wood without removing character.
Usually staying in the same color family (e.g. brown or gray), high variation wood floors can sometimes include bright colors for a bolder fashion statement.
Now here’s what you have to be careful about with high-variation flooring. A small sample cannot give you the whole picture. Expect the installed floor to look somewhat different than the sample planks. If your tolerance for surprises is low, look elsewhere unless you’ve walked on flooring you’re considering and have a good idea of what to expect.
Trend 3: Hardwood Flooring Textures are the Real Feel Deal
Unique and practically hand-crafted hardwood flooring continues to trend in 2021.
Hand Scraped is Here to Stay – For Now : )
Hand scraped hardwood flooring has long scrapes in the flooring finish, and each plank is intended to have an original “scraped” pattern. Intentionally installed to create high variation between the planks, hand scraped hardwood flooring has great depth and feels great under bare feet – like a foot message in every step. The attention to
Pro Tip: Some manufacturers use machines to produce “hand scraped” hardwood flooring, but the plank-to-plank variation, and much of the handcrafted look, is lost in this process. It costs less, but if you study the planks closely, you’ll find patterns of scraping rather than completely random tool marks from plank to plank. We only mention that because some readers are more concerned about receiving a truly custom handscraped floor than others. If it matters to you, ask your retailer how the floor is scraped – what technique is used. The flooring website should have the information too.
Wire Brushing Brings Out the Beauty
Wire brushed hardwood flooring features smooth and consistent deep scratches that expose the heart of the wood underneath, adding character to the finished look (and it hides dirt well.) Wire brushing enhances the grain of the wood, giving hardwood floors a vintage look.
Distressed is Best?
For many who want a floor that looks like a comfortable old friend, distressed hardwood might indeed be the best choice. “Unique” is the word that comes to mind – or, “trendy,” and that’s what we’re talking about.
Distressed hardwood flooring looks like it’s seen a lot of hard use. Burns, scars, and knots may combine with normal scratches and wear for an antique look. The distress comes naturally and gives the wood an actual history.
Trend 4: Flat and Matte Hardwood Floor Finishes are Really Getting Started in 2021
Glossy is bossy with a “look at me” demeanor. Semi-gloss is a glossy wannabe. At least that’s the vibe a lot of high-sheen hardwood delivers. It doesn’t help that these finishes are dated, hard to clean and show dust and dirt – not a good time to shout, “look at me!”
Flatter, “matte’r,” if you will, finishes are easier to maintain and last longer, which explains why satin, matte, and oil finishes are trendy in 2021.
Shine: In 2021, the compromise option between glossy and matte finishes is the satin finish, which gives shine while still providing cover for dirt and imperfections.
Matte: Matte finishes have been trending up for years, and they’re hotter than ever in 2021. Keep this in mind – All flat-finished floors are created equal. A high-quality hardwood floor with a matte finish boast rich depth; cheaper floors will just look dull.
Oil: Providing the popular and trendy matte look, oil finishes appear organic and natural, although somewhat dull, compared to other finishes. Keep this in mind: Oil finishes increase the strength and durability of hardwood floors but provide less protection from scratches and water damage than a planks finished in water-based polyurethane.
Trend 5: Finishing Floors Right in Front of Your Face – Onsite Hardwood Flooring Finishing
Onsite finishing involves installation of raw hardwood floors, which are then finished. Popular for more expensive homes, the main advantage of onsite finishing is the ability to create completely custom finishes for specific rooms; or to blend into existing floors. Factors like natural and artificial lighting, furniture, and décor can be considered in place, and different finishes tested and applied.
This custom finishing comes at a high-end price.
An onsite finished hardwood floor appears as a completely flat surface. The seams of each raw plank are concealed by the on site finishing process. The seams of pre-finished hardwood flooring are obvious.
Trend 6: Patterns in Hardwood Flooring – Uniqueness, Variety, Originality.
People value these qualities in their homes. New and trendy hardwood flooring patterns offer contemporary good looks and versatility that have not been seen before; or haven’t been popular in a long time.
Herringbone – Been There, but It’s Worth Going Again
Sometimes the classic is also the trendy. An alternative to straight hardwood planking leading irresistibly from one end of a room to the other, a nice herringbone pattern looks sophisticated and timeless.
Diagonally Different Perspective
Instead of laying the planks at ninety degree angles to the walls, the planks are laid diagonally (at forty-five degrees.) This little trick gives a home an
Pro Tip: Diagonal wood flooring is also called “angled.”
Smooth on the Senses
Contemporary hardwood flooring trends, 2021 style, include woods with minimal grain patterns. Wide boards and a matte finish help to create a streamlined look that feels just as smooth underfoot.
Wide Planks with Muscular Appeal
Using longer and wider planks is trending – but for larger spaces only. In small spaces, the beefy planks overwhelm the room. Generally, in 2021, thin planks look more and more dated in most residential settings.
Pro Tip: More is on the way! Manufacturers, tracking the trend, are planning to make even longer and wider planks next year.
Mixed Width Planks Stir Things Up
Here’s a basic principle in the current hardwood flooring market: The uncommon is trendy in 2021, and hardwood planks of varied widths add a little bit more style to a room. Planks of different widths in the same hardwood floor give pleasantly unexpected detail. Note though, than an entire row must be installed using planks of the same widths. These plank widths aren’t random. Two or three different widths in the same flooring collection are common, something like planks at 3, 4.5 and 5.5 inches in each carton.
Trend 7: Hardwood Flooring Materials Trending in 2021
There are lots of materials available for manufacturers of hardwood flooring, but some are more trendy than others in 2021!
Different materials have different features and benefits, advantages and disadvantages. In 2021, reclaimed and engineered wood, cork, and bamboo hardwood flooring options are trendy, largely because they are environmentally friendly. In the right context, these materials look and perform great.
Reclaimed: Environmentally friendly with, by definition, an absolutely unique look, reclaimed hardwood flooring is made from re-used building materials. Old barns are especially popular sources. Reclaimed hardwood floors look more authentic than manufactured “distressed” materials.
Bamboo: Natural and uniquely organic-looking, very strong, and highly renewable, bamboo is super trendy in 2021. Bamboo hardwood flooring is manufactured in many colors and styles.
Pro Tip: Depending on location, bamboo may not be a low-maintenance hardwood flooring option. Dry climates with milder temperatures are best for bamboo; a completely climate-controlled home is fine, too.
Cork: One of the oldest of flooring materials, cork is one of the trendiest in 2021. Prized for its soft look and cushioning effect on the joints, it’s also environmentally friendly. Cork flooring is produced from the bark of sustainably grown cork forests. The bark is harvested every decade or so without harming the tree, and then it grows back. Cork is not as durable as most other hardwood flooring options, so a busy home with kids and pets may not be the perfect place for cork flooring.
Engineered: The advantage of engineered hardwood is that it can be installed in places prone to dampness – a bathroom, basement or a gourmet kitchen where tasty foods are often boiling, simmering or roasting in the oven.
Engineered hardwood floors are manufactured to mimic any style, color, texture or trend. Engineered hardwood flooring is very durable and is often a less expensive option.
And here is the 2021 hottest trend in engineered hardwood - A waterproof core! Instead of using an all-plywood base, some manufacturers are now fusing the hardwood top layer to a waterproof stone plastic composite (SPC) core for greater resistance to moisture. Johnson Hardwood is a leader in this technology when it comes to wood. Many manufacturers have been making SPC vinyl flooring for several years.
Treatments: Smoked. Fumed. Torched. Voilà!
These adjectives hardly sound like they describe something that looks fabulous. If that’s what you think, you’ll be surprised as you browse wood planks that have been manufactured using these treatments.
Torched Hardwood Flooring: The torching technique involves burning a hardwood floor with a torch. Torching a hardwood floor is intended to create a rustic look. Circles, dots, and other patterns suggest industrial or agricultural history. Use great caution as a Do It Yourself (DIY) project. The final effect is dramatic, and trendy!
Fumed Floors: A process using ammonia, fuming darkens a hardwood floor while highlighting the grain, for a rich and natural-looking finish without the use of stain. Fuming penetrates the hardwood floor, so the wear in high traffic areas isn’t as obvious.
Pro Tip: Fumed hardwood floors are also called “smoked.”
Fuming, smoking and torching are processes, each a bit different, that make flooring sizzle with exciting visual appearance.
Hardwood and Vinyl Together?
It’s happening. Many manufacturers of hardwood flooring make luxury vinyl planks and tiles too. Some of them are designed to look as closely like their hardwood flooring as possible. Why? To create a visually seamless transition from parts of your home where hardwood is fine into areas where vinyl is a better choice due to water issues - like in the bathroom or kitchen.
See our Vinyl Flooring Trends 2021 page for more info on this and other trends.
Ooh, That One, No, That one, Ooh!
That’s an odd way to say you’ve got a bunch of really hot hardwood flooring options for 2021.
Take your time browsing and getting to know the hardwood flooring trends for 2021. Don’t settle too soon, because if you do, the next style you come across might have you saying, “wait, I like that one better!”
Know your options before you buy. You’ll be happier with your selection if you’ve taken the time to compare, contrast and compare some more. Learn pros, cons and maintenance requirements of each – and then choose the hardwood flooring that appeals to you and your lifestyle and fits your home’s character.