Should You Change the Direction of Wood Flooring Between Rooms?

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should you change the direction of wood flooring between rooms

Hardwood flooring is an excellent choice for your home’s floors. It is incredibly durable and has a classic, timeless look that simply can’t be beaten.

Hardwood flooring can increase your home’s value as well as its overall longevity. Unlike other flooring types, it lasts for years and years and won’t deteriorate quickly. 

However, one of the issues that hardwood flooring has is the fact that it needs to be installed correctly. If it isn’t, you could end up with serious issues that can be very expensive to fix. 

One of the things that need to be considered when installing hardwood flooring is the direction.

Since hardwood planks are very long and thin, the direction they go in can severely affect the space. Choosing the right direction is crucial and will make or break the look of your home. 

In this article, we have laid out everything you need to consider about changing the direction of wood flooring between rooms. 

Some of the things you need to consider include:

  • Potential visual disharmony 
  • Structural issues 
  • Use of transitions 
  • Layout of rooms in the house

Taking all these things into consideration can help you decide if you should change the direction of your flooring. 

Why Does Flooring Direction Matter?

why does flooring direction matter

With hardwood flooring, the direction it is installed is incredibly important. 

Since the planks of hardwood are very long, they can really dictate how a room looks. If the floor is not installed in the right direction, you could end up with an awkward, disorienting style. 

Most of the time, the flooring direction will work in tandem with the length of the room. 

For example, if you have a long hallway, the hardwood will most likely be parallel with the walls. This helps give the space drama and makes it very sleek-looking. 

In larger rooms, the flooring will usually be installed in the same direction as the natural light. Moving the floor towards large windows gives the room an airy, spacious feel. 

Flooring direction is also important when it comes to structural integrity. 

The floor needs to be run perpendicular to the flooring joists. This will give you the strength and sturdy construction your floor needs. 

Visual Disharmony 

For the most part, you do not want rooms to have flooring that goes in different directions. This is mostly because this can create serious visual disharmony within the house. 

Flooring that goes in different directions can be disorienting to look at. It can also cause interruptions in the flow of the space that can make your home look smaller. 

Flooring that goes in different directions can also look very busy. 

If you plan on having a minimalist, contemporary look for your home, it is best to pick one direction. 

Flooring in one direction gives a home flow and makes it very seamless between spaces. This creates a cohesive look and brings the whole house together, which is incredibly important. 

Structural Integrity 

structural integrity

You should also keep your flooring in one direction to maintain the home’s structural integrity. 

For the most part, the joists in your home will be going in the same direction. This is because they are usually very long and will span multiple rooms on one floor. 

If you suddenly change the direction of your flooring, you could end up with serious problems. 

One of the most serious issues with doing this is the fact that you could get dips on the floor. Any time you have too much space between joists, the floor won’t have the support it needs. 

Making sure that there are plenty of contact points between joists is the best way to keep yourself safe. 

This is why it is usually best to pick the right direction for your home and stick with it. 


If you want to change the directions of your flooring and your home allows it, you will need transitions. 

Transitions come in all styles and sizes and can even act as beautiful accent pieces. Choosing the right transition can make a change in flooring direction work incredibly well. 

Some of the types of transitions you can use are hardwood ramps and metal strips. These give a definite change to the floor and can help keep the change from being jarring visually. 

You can also use transitions as a nice accent. By installing things like glass mosaic tiles or intricate wood patterns, your transitions can be functional and beautiful. 

Layout of the House 

The direction of your flooring will all depend on the layout of your home. 

Because you need the flooring planks to be perpendicular to the joists, you have to work with them. If the layout of your house dictates that the planks change directions, it is best to do it. 

You may also want to change the direction if the layout of the rooms requires it.

Having a knowledge of how your home will flow best can help you make this decision. If you have to, consult with a professional interior designer to find out how you should lay your floors. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

faq should you change the direction of wood flooring between rooms

Should you lay flooring horizontally or vertically?

In general, flooring should be laid parallel with the walls. Depending on how the room is shaped, this will either be horizontally or vertically. 

There are no hard and fast rules with flooring, but following these guidelines will yield the best results. 

Do you need transition strips between rooms?

If your flooring is the same in two different rooms, you will not need transitions. However, if it changes directions or is a different material altogether, transitions are encouraged. 

Transitions can even enhance the look of the room if they are installed correctly. 

Why is my wood floor peeling?

If your wood floor is peeling, this is a sign that there is a serious issue with the finish. 

In general, floor finishes should be able to withstand years of heat and use. If it is peeling, this is a sign that it was not properly done in the first place. 


Installing wood flooring is a big job that requires a lot of thought and foresight. Knowing which direction you should install the floor can help you get the best end results. 

By taking the above things into consideration, you can create a fantastic wood floor that will enhance your home. 

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Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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