The year’s top trends in home flooring

By Lisa Liddane

The Orange County Register

It’s been three years since Matt and Alana Andrews bought their one-story Newport Beach home built in 1960. Now, they’re in the thick of a major renovation to bring the home into line with their 21st-century lifestyle, including installing blond, 6-1/2-inch-wide hand-distressed Siberian oak planks finished with ultraviolet-cured oil.

“We wanted something that resembled the old heart of pine floors that you see in Southern farmhouses,” Alana said.

The planks, which are from the Heirloom collection of Santa Ana-based Provenza Wood Floors, are in sync with some of the major themes in wood flooring for houses across the U.S.

Here are those themes as well as other top wood and engineered wood floor trends that we’re seeing in homes, with industry experts Scott Humphrey, chief executive of the World Floor Covering Association, and Michael Martin, chief executive of the National Wood Flooring Association, weighing in.

Lightening up: During the economic downturn, people gravitated toward the traditional dark colors. But with the economy improving, Humphrey said, he’s seeing a rise in the demand for lighter tones. Some of these are finished to look like driftwood or washed in white to make them look beachy. The look is popular on both coasts and is growing elsewhere in the country.

Supersizing: Traditional wood floors usually have 2 1/2-inch- to 3 1/2-inch-wide planks. But some homeowners are gravitating toward planks that are 6 inches wide or more and also longer, Humphrey said. These can make rooms appear bigger.

Martin added that as the wood gets wider and longer, engineered products tend to move less and are more stable, depending on the humidity levels of the home.

Going gray: Gray is having its moment, whether it’s gray mixed with light or dark brown, whitish gray or gray with black. “Gray or weathered-looking wood flooring is very popular with designers this year,” Martin said. “However, as we watch furniture trends, which tend to indicate flooring as well, there seems already to be less focus on gray moving into 2015.”

Repurposing: Wood that’s reclaimed from buildings, homes, barns and other structures is getting new life as flooring. It adds a rustic or aged touch and tends to be used in a wide range of homes, from those that have casual or contemporary interiors to homes that feature more traditional furnishings to homes with eclectic designs. The farmhouse look is big this year, and both reclaimed and lighter-hued woods fit that aesthetic.

Roughing it: It used to be that hardwood floors had to look smooth and pristine. Some homeowners prefer the opposite, seeking wood planks that have been distressed or wire-scraped. The biggest advantage of these roughed-up woods: They hide scratches and nicks much more than smooth and shiny floors do.

Looking natural: “Matte, penetrating oils and UV finishes are gaining in popularity,” Martin said. Some of these finishes allow the grain of the wood to be more visible, a plus for homeowners seeking a rustic or natural look.

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