The Downsides to Dark Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors can be a beautiful addition to many homes. Dark hardwood floors, in particular, can add a formal gravitas to your space. Not all homes benefit from the addition of dark flooring. If you have considered a dark stain for your floors or dark wood, here are some things to keep in mind.

Dark Looks Smaller

dark hardwood flooring

The human brain is very susceptible to the optical illusion. Dark floors trick the eye into thinking that a room is smaller than it really is. Dark-floored rooms, therefore, don't lend themselves to clutter. Dark floors might transform the vibe of your room from cozy to cramped. This can be compensated for somewhat by choosing light walls and ceiling colors, mirrors, and light furniture. However, it will limit your decor options.

Light Furniture

One of the common trends with dark floors is white or very light-colored furniture. If you have kids or pets, this can be a stressful thought. Dark furniture may hide stains and fur better than light, but it can also disappear into your dark floor and look like it doesn't belong. Leather and stain-resistant fabrics are your best bet for finding light furniture that works with a less than careful lifestyle.

Gloss Highlights Scratches

Glossy floors are beautiful when they are scratch-free. However, families with kids and pets, again, can find it hard to maintain this. Dark floors tend to magnify the look of gloss on floors, which means that every scratch in the finish becomes much more visible than if they were on a light-colored surface like maple hardwood flooring or a medium-colored surface like oak hardwood flooring. To avoid this problem, consider one of the hand-scraped surfaces, a more matte finish, or a harder kind of wood like Brazilian Cherry. For low-use rooms, this gloss can work for you to some extent. It can highlight the places where light scratching has affected the sealant but not the wood. In this case, floors can be lightly buffed and an additional coating of sealant applied.

Dark Highlights Dust

One of the other common problems that comes with dark floors is dust. Dark floors are typically darker than most dust bunnies or pet hair that you can find, and because of this, it is easy to see the dirt. If you are someone who is meticulously neat, this may be something that you are grateful for, as it helps you to keep things as clean as you wish them to be. If you don't have the time for everything to be white-glove immaculate, however, you may want to consider installing hardwood floors with a busier grain or a lighter overall tone. If you don't mind the daily dust mop, dark floors can look clean and beautiful.

Dark Can Fade Irregularly

Many people choose dark floors that get that way by staining. This can fade over time, and it will typically fade differently where sunbeams come through the windows compared to areas which remain in shade. This can also be true for woods with a naturally dark tone. While this can also happen in hardwood flooring of lighter tones, the sun bleaching is typically less pronounced and therefore less of a problem. This can be compensated for by using curtains, UV-coated windows, or a UV-resistant finish. None of these, however, is a perfect solution that will fully prevent the problem. However, choosing the wood for a room with north-facing windows or curtains that are mainly closed will typically allow it to last a long time. Small rooms that provide relatively equal sun exposure across the floor should have a level of fade across the room that is a bit more even.

Dark Changes Lighting

If you are someone who likes to read or work on detail-oriented at night, be aware that a dark floor is much less reflective than a light surface. Because of this, you may need to choose brighter bulbs in your fixtures, add a few more lamps, or even add some additional task lighting. Track lighting is a great way to direct lighting in a few different areas of the room. You may want to wait until your floors are installed to decide on the kind of lighting changes that you need.

Dark is Trendy

While today's looks are spare and light and lend themselves perfectly to dark floors, the next trends may not work as well with them. Since hardwood flooring is designed to last for generations, it can limit your ability to stay with the latest furniture, paint, and other home decorating trends without also updating your hardwood floors or covering them with rugs. If you are also going for a historic look, many vintage eras stuck with lighter flooring because of the limited lighting options that were available before the invention of electric lighting. Of course, there are a number of classic looks that you can emulate that lend themselves well to dark floors.

Dark Can Mask Damage

Water damage that is coming from the walls and seeping under the floors can be difficult to detect. In the case of light hardwood flooring, your first sign may be that the floor darkens slightly. Unfortunately, this is harder to detect in a dark floor, which means that you may incur a lot more damage before you notice. This is a good reason to avoid dark flooring in rooms that are most likely to have plumbing leaks, like bathrooms and kitchens, especially if you have common leak agents like refrigerator lines.

The trend of dark woods is likely to last for some time. While a dark floor can be a showpiece in a home, it is not for everyone. If you love the look but not the maintenance, consider dark wood for smaller places like stair steps surrounded by white risers and walls, small foyers and entryways, or even dark wooden insert designs in lighter flooring. One additional option if you like the look of dark but want some of the problems reduced is to go for a reddish hue like cherry.

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