The Best Hardwood Floor Colors, According To Our Design Experts

Whether you're building a new home or renovating an existing one, choosing flooring is an important step as you create an attractive overall design. Wood flooring contributes value and warmth to a home. Not only do homeowners recover 118% of their cost when installing new planks before reselling, but they also add texture and dimension to your space (via National Association of Realtors). But with many types of wood and multiple finishes available, the process of selecting a color may leave you confused and exhausted. That's why we've collected recommendations from interior design experts for the best ones to consider.

The types of wood used for flooring include oak, maple, cherry, walnut, and more. Plus, many manufacturers are creating engineered hardwood flooring with the look of wood and more resiliency. All of these variables create a wide array of flooring colors on the market. So, there are a few factors to take into account when selecting the best one for your space. The designers we interviewed considered durability, versatility, and decor cohesiveness. 

Light natural oak

Oak flooring is considered a classic choice that never goes out of style — which is great, considering it typically lasts up to 25 to 30 years. It's the best option to give your home a fresh, modern feel that's still warm and welcoming. Part of the reason it's so inviting is because it showcases the wood's texture, bringing a little bit of nature indoors. "A light, natural finish allows the authentic beauty of the wood grain to shine through," Brad Smith of Omni Home Ideas exclusively tells House Digest.

If you'd like to bring new life to a choppy, outdated layout, natural oak can give it a brighter, more modern feel. "Lighter woods like oak and maple can make a room feel more open and airy, perfect for smaller or darker spaces," states Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight, when speaking to House Digest. The timeless color can also allow for future decor evolutions, as Smith emphasizes, "It's also versatile, pairing well with both cool and warm decor."

Warm honey

One of the most attractive qualities of hardwood floors is that they bring a welcoming charm to your home. If creating an undeniable cozy atmosphere is your goal, a warm honey finish is a perfect option to reinforce the congenial vibe. "Warm honey-toned hardwood brings warmth and coziness to a room and is compatible with a broad range of decor styles," Smith tells House Digest. Because of that, it best pairs with homey aesthetics that make you want to stay in all day. Think modern farmhouse, Georgian, or colonial designs, which encourage the use of overstuffed couches, giant tables, and a plethora of pillows and sitting nooks. Design-wise, it's also a good option if you don't want a color on either end of the spectrum. "This is a perfect middle-ground between too light and too dark," says Smith.

He continues, "It's also fairly good at concealing minor damages and dirt." This makes it great for high-traffic areas and busy homes with kids and pets. Floors in this color tend to appear cleaner with less effort, ideal for those looking for a low-maintenance option. Opt for a lower sheen finish to add to their dirt-concealing abilities.

Medium-tone woods

Medium-tone wood flooring is a top shade for its versatility, as it offers endless design possibilities. This is a great choice if you like to switch up your decor styles or your room's hues frequently. As Kropovinsky explained to House Digest, "It's one of the most versatile palettes, working with both warm and cool color schemes."

Thanks to its versatility, medium-tone flooring can provide a reliable anchor for multiple decor and color options. They are perfect for French country or traditional aesthetics. However, in low-sheen finishes, they can also look stunning in homes with rustic, modern, or even industrial vibes. It's a bit of a chameleon, adapting to whatever decor your mix it with.

From a maintenance standpoint, it's also a top choice for busy spaces and lively homes. While some light-colored flooring can lose its stain over time, and dark floors can highlight dust and debris, a medium tone lands right in the middle. Kropovinsky says, "Medium-tone woods, such as hickory or cherry, offer a balance between showing wear and providing a rich, warm ambiance."

Whitewashed wood

Whitewashing is a centuries-old process where a transparent white stain is applied to lighten the color of the wood. This is not an opaque color choice, as it allows the beauty of the wood grain to come through. This is a top choice for anyone wanting to get creative with their flooring. The finish injects texture into space while still allowing you the freedom to play with color. 

When it comes to the whitewashed look, engineered hardwood floors are the best bet. True whitewashed wood finishes can get scuffed up and even rub off over time. But, with engineered flooring, you'll still get the same look but with a durable, easy-to-clean finish. 

There's no denying the distinct laid-back vibe this floor creates. As Smith tells House Digest, "This color is particularly popular in coastal or rustic-style homes. Whitewashed hardwood offers a relaxed, airy feel." It's great at instantly conveying a theme, so if you really want to hit home that your space is casual and tranquil, this is your best bet.

Dark wood

If you're looking to make a space feel more refined and formal, dark flooring can be an ideal option. As Kropovinsky says when speaking to House Digest, "Dark wood floors like walnut or mahogany add a sense of luxury and sophistication to a space."

This intense shade is a top choice for styles that revolve around accesbsible elegance. It's a perfect way to infuse a posh feel into a functional home. Dark floors can also be the basis of a variety of looks. They can be paired with deep paint hues for a moody and dramatic vibe. Or, play off their intense hue with bright, neutral tones. As Kropovinsky explains, "They pair beautifully with light-colored furniture and decor, offering a striking contrast."

As an added bonus, a dark finish disguises imperfections in the wood. And, when you opt for a low-sheen finish, the deep hue can hide spills and dirt. Dark finishes are also more resistant to fading from the sunlight. This means you can retain their deep color and tone longer without the expensive — and messy — refinishing process.

Distressed and reclaimed wood

If you are conscious about reusing and recycling the materials we consume, turn to reclaimed wood for flooring options that are both attractive and sustainable. This is an awesome choice if you want to infuse a sense of history and personality in your home. 

The most distinct part of this flooring is the stunning, one-of-a-kind imperfections. This is also a maintenance perk, as Kropovinsky explains to House Digest, "For those concerned about visible scratches or wear and tear, distressed or reclaimed wood is an excellent choice as it comes pre-aged and full of character."

Reclaimed or distressed wood is a great choice for those that love earthy styles, like rustic, bohemian, or coastal aesthetics. However, as Kropovinsky points out, "Color varies widely, offering a versatile option that can complement many design styles." This means you can work it into any design; you just have to choose the correct stain to coordinate with your existing aesthetic.