Hardwood Floors: Borders, Accents & Patterns

Deciding that hardwood flooring is the best option for your home is just the first decision of many. There are several design elements that you can control in order to produce a hardwood floor that is both beautiful and fits your lifestyle. After you have made some of the basic decisions such as what color or stain to use, which board width is best for the room, and what edge treatment you want, it’s time to move on to more artistic decisions such as boarders, patterns, and accents. These three design elements encompass a range of options that really allow the adventurer or artistic spirit to make a statement with hardwood flooring.

Borders can be used to add personal style to a room or in the case of large multi-purpose rooms, to designate separate spaces. Borders can be as simple as a different color or specie of wood which contrasts with the rest of the floor. However, borders can also be intricate designs.You may see borders used to draw attention to a certain aspect of a room such as a fireplace.

Accents such as medallions add a pop of texture, color, or design to a space. They draw the eye and give the room a focal point. Accents are a way to dress up an otherwise standard hardwood floor.

Patterns refers to the way the floor boards are installed. There are several different types of patterns you can choose from. Including:

Herringbone Pattern


Photo: Vanishing Hardwood Parquet by Rubber Dragon 

With this pattern the boards are laid together to form a point (almost like an arrow). This pattern tends to work best in larger spaces because it can make a room feel closed in. Herringbone wood floors require more time (labor) and materials so they come with a higher price tag.

Diagonal Pattern
This pattern simply means installing the boards diagonally across the room versus vertically or horizontally. Although more expensive than a standard installation, a diagonal pattern is a good option if you’re looking for a more cost affordable way to make your hardwood floors stand out (as compared to herringbone). In addition, since one’s eyes will be drawn outwards (towards the corners of the room) it’s a good option for making a room feel larger than it really is.

Photo: 1029 – Wood Parquet Pattern by Patrick Hoesly 

When you hear the word parquet you may initially have a bad reaction. You may think of the unsightly wood floors found in your great aunt’s house. However, parquet floors can be quite beautiful. A parquet pattern is simply many pieces of wood interlocking to form a repeating pattern. It’s almost a form of abstract art. For a real hardwood parquet pattern you’re probably looking at a big price tag.

A few words of caution when considering borders, accents, and patterns. For any of these options you are going to incur a higher cost so make sure you have room in your budget. In addition, keep in mind that your taste is probably not the taste of everyone else. If you think you’ll be selling your house in the next few years you may want to avoid these more artistic hardwood floor design elements. Lastly, be very aware of the space you are putting the hardwood floors in. Take note of the amount of natural light, the actual size of the room, and how much furniture is in the room. Many of the design elements described in this article may make a room feel smaller.

Despite the additional cost and potential for making a room feel smaller, borders, accents, and patterns are a great way to make a stunning statement with hardwood. If you have the money they are definitely something to consider in order to make your hardwood floor really stand out.

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