Choosing the best wood flooring for your living room involves careful consideration of several factors. As one of the most used spaces in most homes, the living room flooring needs to be attractive yet practical, able to withstand daily wear and tear. The good news is that wood flooring offers timeless beauty and limitless design possibilities, making it one of the best options for living rooms.
When selecting wood flooring, you’ll need to decide on the wood species, color, finish, width of planks, and installation method. Your choices will influence the overall style, durability, maintenance requirements, and cost of your new floor. Read on as we explore the ins and outs of choosing the best wood flooring for your living room.
The Benefits of Wood Flooring in Living Rooms
Wood flooring offers many advantages that make it well-suited for living rooms:
Natural Beauty: Wood’s unique grain patterns and organic warmth bring life to living spaces. The variety of wood species, colors, and finishes means you can customize your floor’s look.
Timeless Appeal: Wood floors stay in style year after year. A quality hardwood floor can even increase your home’s resale value.
Durability: Properly installed and maintained, quality wood flooring can last decades. It stands up well to heavy foot traffic.
Comfort Underfoot: Wood feels warmer and softer underfoot than tile or stone. Area rugs add extra coziness.
Easy Maintenance: Hardwood floors are easy to clean with a broom or vacuum. Regular dust-mopping keeps them looking their best.
Sustainability: Many wood flooring companies use eco-friendly practices, giving homeowners a chance to make a green choice.
Types of Wood Flooring
When searching for wood flooring, you’ll encounter several categories. The construction, thickness, and cost vary among them.
Solid Hardwood: Made of planks milled from a single piece of timber. The planks are 3/4″ thick. Solid wood can be refinished several times. It’s the most expensive option but offers unique natural beauty.
Engineered Wood: Has a top layer of solid wood adhered to a plywood base. The planks are thinner, usually 1/2″ to 9/16″ thick. Engineered wood is more dimensionally stable than solid and works over radiant heat systems. The top layer can often be refinished.
Acrylic-Impregnated Wood: Features solid wood planks injected with liquid acrylic to make the wood more dent- and stain-resistant. The downside is that it cannot be refinished.
Laminate Flooring: Constructed of four layers fused together under heat and pressure. The top layer mimics wood’s look but is simply a photographic image. Laminate is the most affordable option but cannot be refinished.
Bamboo Flooring: Made from rapidly renewable bamboo grasses. Available in solid planks and engineered planks. It has a distinct grassy appearance.
Wood Flooring Styles
When browsing wood floors, you’ll find various plank styles that create different visual effects.
Solid Plank: Traditional, single-width planks. The most classic style, ideal for traditional homes.
Strip: Narrow planks, 2 1/4″ to 3″ wide. Has an orderly, tailored look. Enhances the perception of space.
Plank: Wider planks, 4″ to 7″ across. Gives a bold, dramatic statement. Works with casual to contemporary decor.
Parquet: Geometric pattern created by arranging small square wood blocks in diagonal, herringbone, or other designs. Offers a custom, one-of-a-kind look.
Colors and Stains
The natural color of the wood species provides the base tone. Stains or paints added at the factory produce colors like gray washed, weathered gray, and whitewashed. Site-staining and finishing after installation offer unlimited custom color options.
Popular wood floor colors include:
- Light: Maple, birch, hickory, ash – warm up rooms with light surfaces.
- Medium: Oak, walnut – versatile neutrals suit all decor.
- Dark: Brazilian cherry, mahogany, wenge – sophisticated looks.
- Gray: On-trend, works with cool or warm color schemes.
- White/Grey Wash: Coastal, Scandinavian, and modern farmhouse styles.
The finish plays a big role in the look and durability of wood floors. Consider these popular options:
- Hardwax oils – Allow the natural wood grain to shine through. Enhance the color. Offer moisture resistance and durability. Allow for spot repairs. Provide a matte sheen.
- UV-cured urethane – Cured with ultraviolet light instead of toxic chemicals. Offer excellent durability and abrasion resistance. Provide a range of sheen levels from satin to gloss.
- Aluminum oxide-infused urethane – Aluminum oxide particles make the finish very resistant to wear and indentations. Ideal for heavy traffic areas. Available in matte to semi-gloss sheens.
- Ceramic-infused urethane – Ceramic microparticles provide extreme durability. Resists scratches and scuffs. Offers matte to glossy sheens.
Proper installation is key to getting the longevity you expect from wood floors. Here are some top methods:
Glue-Down: Planks adhere directly to the subfloor with water-resistant adhesives. Provides excellent stability. Works on concrete or plywood subfloors. Longest installation time.
Floating: Planks connect together with tongue-and-groove or click-lock systems. Underlayment adds cushioning. Floor “floats” over the subfloor. Fast installation. Not ideal for solid wood in humid climates.
Nail-Down: Planks get secured to a plywood or OSB subfloor with finishing nails. This classic technique allows the wood to expand and contract naturally. Refinishing is easier than with glued floors.
Staple-Down: Similar to nail-down but uses thinner gauge staples instead of nails. Faster to install than nailing. Provides good stability.
Wood Flooring Care Tips
With proper care, your wood floors can stay beautiful for decades. Follow these maintenance guidelines:
- Sweep, dust mop, or vacuum regularly to prevent dirt buildup.
- Wipe spills promptly to avoid stains and warping.
- Apply floor protector pads on furniture legs to prevent scratches.
- Limit direct sunlight exposure to slow fading.
- Maintain indoor humidity between 30-50% year-round.
- Refinish solid hardwood floors when worn or scratched. Follow a professional refinishing schedule.
- Clean with manufacturer’s recommended wood floor cleaners. Avoid excessive water.
The Best Wood Flooring for Living Rooms
With all of the above factors in mind, here are our top recommendations for living room wood flooring:
1. Solid Hardwood with Ceramic-Infused Urethane Finish
For a classic floor that will stand the test of time, choose 3/4″ solid oak, maple, or hickory planks with a durable ceramic-infused urethane finish. The ultra-strong ceramic particles prevent scratches, scuffs, and dents. If any damage occurs, the floor can be refinished to look like new again. This type will likely last a lifetime if cared for properly.
2. Engineered Wood Planks with Underlayment
Engineered wood offers the appearance of solid hardwood but with greater structural stability. Opt for 1/2″ thick oak or walnut planks layered over a high-quality cork underlayment. The underlayment absorbs sound and adds comfort underfoot. Choose a hardwax oil or aluminum oxide-infused urethane finish for durability. Engineered wood works beautifully over radiant heat systems.
3. Wide-Plank Solid White Oak with Whitewash Finish
For a light, airy, coastal vibe, use 6″ wide solid white oak planks with a soft whitewashed finish. The wide planks make the space feel more open. The white wash allows the subtle wood grain and texture to show through for added natural interest. Finish with multiple coats of water-based polyurethane for protection.
4. Hickory Wood Planks with Hand-Scraped Texture
Capture the rustic charm of hand-crafted floors with hickory planks featuring hand-scraped depressions across the surface. The roughsawn texture hides dirt well. Apply a matte oil-based urethane finish to enhance the natural color variations in the wood. For a more casual vibe, install the planks over a reclaimed wood subfloor.
5. Exotic Santos Mahogany Parquet
Make a bold style statement with a custom herringbone parquet pattern in rich Brazilian Santos mahogany. The intricate design grabs attention. Complement with modern furnishings and cabinets for stylish contrast. Use traditional nail-down installation and finish with a semi-gloss urethane for sheen. The deep reddish-brown color will warm up the space.
The Right Wood for Your Style
Ultimately, match the wood species and color to the overall decor of the living room. Here are some top picks:
Rustic, Lodge – Handscraped hickory or rustic oak planks
Traditional, Formal – Cherry or walnut strip flooring
Casual, Eclectic – Distressed oak or maple planks
Contemporary, Modern – Exotics like Brazilian walnut or bamboo
Coastal, Cottage – Whitewashed oak or maple
Spanish, Tuscan – Heavy scraped walnut or hickory
With all of the beautiful options now available, you’re sure to find the ideal wood floor to complement your living room’s style. A new wood floor can transform the entire feel of your space while also providing a practical flooring solution to stand the test of time. Take your time considering all the variables, from wood type to color and finish, to make the best choice for your home décor and lifestyle needs.
What has traditionally been a popular choice for living room flooring?
Carpet has traditionally been a popular choice for living room flooring.
What flooring material is available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and textures?
Vinyl flooring is available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and textures.
What are some of the most common types of flooring used in living rooms?
Some of the most common types of flooring used in living rooms are carpet, solid wood flooring, engineered wood, laminate, vinyl, tile, stone, concrete, and natural flooring like sisal or seagrass.
Why might homeowners choose vinyl flooring for their living room?
Homeowners might choose vinyl flooring for their living room because it is durable, affordable, available in a wide variety of styles, and easy to clean and maintain.
What is the advantage of using solid wood flooring in a living room?
An advantage of using solid wood flooring in a living room is that it can be sanded and refinished over time, allowing it to last for decades.
What should you consider when choosing living room flooring ideas?
When choosing living room flooring ideas, you should consider the overall style of the room, durability, ease of maintenance, comfort underfoot, and budget.
Why might tile be a good option for an open-concept living room and kitchen?
Tile might be a good option for an open-concept living room and kitchen because it is very durable and can withstand the higher traffic of a combined living and cooking space.
About how much does it cost to install solid wood flooring per square foot?
Solid wood flooring costs approximately $4-$12 per square foot installed.
What is the advantage of wool carpet compared to synthetic carpet?
An advantage of wool carpet compared to synthetic carpet is that it provides better insulation and is naturally stain and fire-resistant.