When it comes to flooring, one of the big choices is deciding between dark and light tones. Some people prefer darker, richer tones, while other prefer lighter shades. And many others have no idea where to start.
That’s why we put together our guide to the pros and cons of light vs. dark flooring to help you decide which shade will work best in your home.
Tips for Choosing Between Dark and Light Flooring
Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering light vs. dark flooring:
- Is there a certain shade you gravitate toward?
- Do you have pets? Kids? A busy household?
- Does your home have a particular design style? If so, which design style is it?
- How ofen do you clean? How much does dirt showing matter to you?
- What are the sizes of your rooms?
- How much light does your household get? Is it mostly natural or artificial light?
- What colour are the walls currently (or going to be)?
- What colour are your cabinets?
- What does your furniture look like?
What’s Easier to Keep Clean?
If disguising dirt is important to you, light flooring is the clear winner. In general, dirt and debris will be far less noticeable on light floors compared to darker tones. This is certainly an advantage for busy households with kids or pets.
However, it is important to consider the most common debris you expect in your home. For example, dirt will likely show up easier on lighter floors while sand may blend in more. If your overall debris is lighter (think sand, dust, and pet hair), you may find light floors to be your best bet.
Whether you choose light or dark flooring, follow these tips for minimising how easily dirt shows up:
- Make your household a shoe-free zone (this is a beneficial habit to practice for more reasons than just keeping dirt out)
- Choose a satin finish to help minimise imperfections
What Shows Scratches More?
Again, light floors have the advantage here. If hiding any potential scratches is high priority to you, lighter flooring will likely be your best bet.
Darker colours tend to magnify scratches and imperfections, especially on floors made from real wood. When the surface is scratched, the wood shows through underneath and contrasts the darker shades on top.
Which Is Best for Dogs and Kids?
As you may have gathered from the first two comparisons, lighter flooring will most likely be more forgiving in busy households. If you do choose darker floors, ask us about the most durable finishes and best flooring options for kids or pets and we’d be glad to help.
Do Dark Floors Make a Room Look Smaller?
Yes, dark floors do have the tendency to make spaces appear smaller. While this may not be ideal in a home or condo with limited space, it can be a wonderful feature in larger homes or rooms that you would like to feel more cosy and inviting.
If you want to maximise space in a cramped area, lighter floors may be a great option. However, the atmosphere and overall impression of a room come down to the combination of flooring colours, wall colours, accents, and furniture choices, so don’t limit yourself to light floors if you had your heart set on darker tones. Also, remember that area rugs can help unify spaces and bring colour tones together.
If you prefer dark floors but have concerns that it will make your space seem too dark, consider adding additional overhead lighting, more windows, lighter window treatments, and lighter paint.
Are Dark or Light Floors Better In Sunny Rooms?
We love the sun here in Australia, but it can be brutal on flooring. Dark floorboards absorb sunlight instead of repelling it, making them less prone to fading than lighter tones. This means darker shades will maintain their true colour better and longer, especially in rooms with ample sunlight.
Which Has More Impact?
Light floors have a subtle way of letting your decor shine as the focal point. Alternatively, dark tones impart a bold, rich atmosphere.
If you want a classic look that allows your furniture and decor to take center stage, light floors may be the best pick for you. If you want your floors to make a statement, dark shades can offer the impact you are looking for.
Do Light or Dark Tones Show Grain Better?
Which Is Trendier?
We are definitely seeing a trend toward darker floors in 2020. Ebony, espresso, and dark walnut shades have been especially popular.
We are also seeing a trend toward very light tones. If you want a lighter shade that is also on trend, opt for cool greys or white-washed looks.
The Importance of Samples
Once you decide between light and dark floors (or if you are still deciding), it can be helpful to obtain colour swatches to see exactly how they will appear in your home.
The lighting in your home — and at certain times of day — will have a significant impact on the appearance of the flooring. Pay attention to how the colours appear throughout the day and in different lighting (artificial vs. natural). You can also see how the flooring works with your furniture, paint, cabinets, and accents.
Should I Choose Dark or Lights Floors With My Kitchen Cabinets?
If you are installing floors in your kitchen or in your living room or dining room in an open concept house, you will want to consider the colour of your cabinets.
In general, choosing darker floors with lighter cabinets or lighter floors with dark cabinets tends to offer a nice contrast.
Which Has Higher Resale Value?
While there aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules on flooring colours to increase the resale value of your home, trends do tend to have an impact on buyer’s preferences.
As such, buyers are showing a preference toward homes with darker flooring, although we have also seen tendencies toward both very light or very dark floorboards. This has been especially true in contemporary homes.
Need More Help Deciding Between Light and Dark Floors?
Light and dark floors can both be beautiful options in a variety of settings.
If you are still going back and forth on which shade would be best for your space, please feel free to reach out to our experienced team. We aren’t just here to help with the technical aspects, we are happy to help with design as well.