Choosing the perfect layout of your wood flooring

Choosing beautiful new wood flooring can dramatically change the mood of your home’s interior – brightening, deepening, modernizing or warming up your decor and more! However, after you’ve decided between material compositions and tantalizing tones, there is another huge decision to make – one that can make or break the impact of your important investment: the layout.

Here’s my guide to choosing the right installation pattern to suit your space, so that regardless of what material you choose, you make the most of it!


Straight

The most common layout for flooring planks, a straight pattern is typically the easiest to do – especially in standard rectangular or nearly rectangular spaces. In this format, installation usually begins aligned to the longest straight wall, with the planks (or tiles) laid in parallel rows running from one end of the room to the other.

In a straight lay, long lines are created that can help a room appear longer. The linear format of the boards acts like stripes, visually lengthening the axis of the space.

This layout also typically involves the fewest cuts (since many boards will be installed with no cuts at all), resulting in low material waste and fewer hours of work – perfect for DIYers or those sticking to a strict budget.

Because a straight scheme is so classic, it will never go out of style. However, some other options can create a lot more drama, or extend the illusion of a vast space even further.

Try this: If a space is actually too long or narrow, such as a tight hallway or kitchen, laying the boards or tiles perpendicular to the long axis will help widen the look instead of lengthening it even further, bringing proportion to the space.

Diagonal

A variation on a straight layout, a diagonal layout either follows one angled wall (if your unit has a less typical shape) or simply runs from corner to corner of the largest room, refusing to be tied down to any wall at all!

A diagonal layout takes the lengthening power of a straight lay and maximizes it, creating the longest line possible to highlight the full size of an open plan. Diagonal lines also naturally create a dynamic energy, helping the eye move about the space for a livelier atmosphere.

Because a diagonal layout meets all or most walls at an angle, more cuts will need to be made, and the room for error will be higher, lengthening the construction time (and making work tricky for DIY installers).

This look works well in more complex floor plans with no one “best” wall to start from, and elegantly connects adjacent spaces.

Try this: Rather than running the diagonal line directly from corner to corner, use a simple 45-degree angle to keep all the cuts consistent.

Herringbone

A herringbone pattern is both a traditional staple and a returned trend, making it a popular choice for creating that high-end look. It’s important though to understand the differences between true herringbone and its cousin, the “chevron” pattern. The primary difference between the two variations comes down to cutting: a herringbone layout places boards at right angles to each other, creating repeated zig-zag patterns that recall the weave of a classic suiting material. Chevron layouts create the same zig-zag, but with the boards cut to meet at a 45-degree angle, for a more clean and contemporary effect.

Both of these patterns create a bold statement and a powerful feeling of motion. The preference for chevron’s crisp perfection or herringbone’s more subtle charm comes down to personal taste.

This installation naturally requires more time and patience to achieve than the previous two options. However, the extra cost can be balanced by choosing a less expensive material and letting the layout deliver the drama.

Try this: Consider a herringbone treatment for just a key area, such as an entry vestibule or bathroom tile, to create a moment of interest without committing to the look everywhere.

Complex

While it’s often considered safe to stick to the popular standbys, unique designs can have their place in your contemporary condo if you keep an open mind. Here are a few more ideas to get your creative flooring juices flowing:

  • In a square room, try a square layout. Let the wood start from the edges and work into the centre in concentric layers (meeting at a 45-degree angle in the corners.) Just make sure the installer plans ahead to achieve a perfect centrepoint! This look is ideal for a dining area with a central table.
  • An inset tile treatment can make a perfect visual break in an entryway or kitchen, and will stand up to mucky winter boots or the occasional dropped pot.
  • Patterns will read as more intentional when applied at a larger scale, so if you’re planning a playful parquet, consider using a larger plank to keep the look less busy and more confident.
  • If your unit is L-shaped (especially if the bend is a more unusual angle), you can change the flooring direction at the intersection – just don’t change it more than once if you can help it, so the look stays mostly consistent.

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