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3 Tips on How to Choose Between Light and Dark Flooring

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

Doing your first home improvement project can feel overwhelming. Committing to changes that will not only be around for a long time, but that you will also see on a daily basis can feel a little intimidating. It is important that the choices in design you make are ultimately ones that you love, but also ones that suit your home. These 3 Tips will help narrow it down:


1. Room Size

Your decision should be made primarily on the space of the room(s). Here is why the space should be taken into account:

Dark flooring generally suits spacious, open living spaces best because it creates a snug appearance and aesthetic. Dark flooring creates an illusion of the room to appear smaller than it is. It brings the room together, and draws the attention to the floor. Although dark flooring can make rooms look more compressed, the perception can be altered and balanced by painting the walls a lighter shade. The color of the walls ultimately holds an even bigger impact on the perception of a room than flooring alone (I will talk more about walls on my next blog post). To create balance, I recommend the walls to be a light color when opting for a dark shade of flooring.

(Pictured: Example of how dark flooring brings room together.)

Light flooring generally suits small rooms best because it helps create the illusion of the room to appear bigger, elongated and more spacious than it actually is. Neutral colored flooring can give the sensation of the room to be airy, open and inviting. If the room looks cramped and has a low ceiling, installing a light neutral shade of flooring will help enhance the size of the room.

2. Wear and Tear

The activity levels of the home should also be taken into account when selecting a flooring type and color. Here is why:

Although dark flooring is beautiful, they also have drawbacks; it is harder to maintain, especially if there are pets in the home and there is a high volume of daily activity. Flaws as a result of heels, shoes, scratches, dents, and any other imperfection are easier to spot. Don't feel discouraged, a good cleaning and maintenance routine can help extend the life span and appearance of the flooring. If you have your heart set on dark flooring, I recommend looking into selecting solid wood flooring, as the life span is longer than engineered wood flooring, and is resistant against scratches and dents due to thicker wear surface. For the most part, solid wood flooring can also be sanded and finished, as opposed to engineered wood flooring. Furthermore, a drawback of hardwood flooring is the possibility of warpage, cupping or shrinkage. A moisture variation of as little as 2% may warp or cup hardwood flooring. I recommend speaking to a professional to help select the best material option for you.

Light flooring is best when there are pets in the home and there is a high volume of daily activity. Imperfections such as fur, scratches, and heel marks generally blend in perfectly well. Light flooring is easier to maintain and doesn’t require constant cleaning as opposed to dark flooring, especially dark wood flooring. There are numerous options of print and type

of material to select from, whether tile, vinyl, or laminate.

(Pictured: Vinyl Plank Flooring)

3. Cabinets and Furniture

Cabinetry, trim, countertops and furniture should also be taken into account.

Dark floors create a strong foundation in a room. To avoid overdoing the area with dark colors, choose light and neutral colors for the cabinetry. Remember that balance is key.

Light floors are a perfect selection if cabinetry is dark. It will create a contrast between the flooring and cabinetry, and make both elements stand out. If your cabinetry is currently a light shade, you can check out a YouTube video of how to stain or paint your cabinets a darker shade.

(Pictured: Well-balanced room featuring vinyl plank flooring, white baseboard, neutral walls, white cabinets, and furniture that adds a pop of color.)

Keep in mind that these are all broad tips to help you decide what works best for you. I hope it helps.

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