Can I Use Different Color Hardwood Floors Upstairs and Downstairs?

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Use Different Color Hardwood Floors Upstairs and Downstairs?

If you decorate one floor of your home before the other, it’s sometimes easy to end up with clashing colors! For example, what if you run out of hardwood before heading upstairs? You’ll need to buy a whole new supply, which might mean an entirely different color or finish.

Can I use different color hardwood floors upstairs and downstairs? Yes – there’s nothing wrong with using different hardwood colors up and down. However, you need to blend them very carefully.

How do I blend my hardwood floor colors (upstairs and downstairs)?

Blend my hardwood floor colors (upstairs and downstairs)

Your staircase is the common connection between your ground and first floors. Therefore, you’ll need to consider how to use it to tie your hardwood flooring together visually. 

Firstly, work out which floor you can see most of the staircase from. If it’s more visible from the ground (as is often the case), try blending more with your ground floor wood. For example, choose the same or slightly lighter shade for your stairs if it’s a dark finish.

Alternatively, consider a middle shade. If you lay light-colored hardwood upstairs and dark downstairs, you could use a mid-tone as a transition. It’ll be easier on the eyes up and down and will give your home a little more ‘narrative’.

Consider runners, too. If you don’t want to replace an existing staircase in hardwood or swap its color, line it with neutral fabric. Choose a color that complements both floors.

For darker hardwood, carpet runners in mild colors and tones work best in contrast. Earthy or even bold, fruity colors contrast and blend with lighter tones. Neutral shades in straw or beige could work well as a mutual link between.

Using a runner in a different color gives the eyes a ‘break’ as you move from one floor to another. Much like the staircase, it’s a transition connecting upstairs and down. You could also paint your stairs a neutral color to avoid carpeting.

You could also consider installing a staircase that makes use of both colors. For each step, you could use one color for the riser (vertical), and the other for the tread (horizontal). Alternatively, use one color as a base while accenting with the other.

Is it better to have both upstairs and downstairs floors the same color?

better to have both upstairs and downstairs floors the same color

Not always. It’s a matter of preference. Some homeowners prefer the harmony of having hardwood floors identically colored and styled throughout their properties. Many designers believe that keeping your hardwood colors the same can also help create an illusion of size.

Matching can help complete the look of your home, but it might not always be possible.

For example, you may be relaying your upstairs floors long after laying your ground floor. You may not have access to the same color or grain for your original project.

However, for maximum resale value, harmony is a must. Different colored floors can give off a more ‘lived-in’ look. New buyers want a blank slate they can project onto!

Harmonious floor colors create a sense of cohesion. Too many different shades and styles can make a space appear ‘busy’, or that the designer didn’t have a ‘purpose’. By blending your staircase or interim rooms, you tie them together with a sense of direction.

If you can’t install hardwood floors in the same color upstairs and downstairs, try to choose the same wood type. For example, you may have a lighter shade of maple in the entrance hall and a darker blend on the landing.

Above all, try and make your choices seem ‘intentional’. Choose identical finishes (i.e., matte or glossy) wherever possible, and try to run the planks in the same direction. Laying your floors without this intention could make your home look unfinished.

What color hardwood works best upstairs and downstairs?

The color hardwood you choose should depend on the size and function of any given room, not its level. For example, if you have lots of windows on the ground floor, darker hardwood will help to absorb natural light.

Dark colors also work well in smaller spaces, such as bedrooms. Therefore, you may prefer to contrast with a lighter shade downstairs. 

Some homeowners choose lighter hardwood for downstairs rooms as they are communal spaces where guests spend most of their time. Lighter wood hides scratches easier and is simpler to clean.

Generally, dark hardwood shades resell better than lighter shades. If you want to sell your home in the near future, it may be worthwhile keeping to darker tones throughout. You can blend more furniture and individual decor with dark wood, too. Again, this explains why it works so well in bedrooms!


faq use different color hardwood floors upstairs and downstairs

Should my wood floors match throughout the house?

No, they don’t have to. Matching hardwood floors across the home can remove unique qualities from each room. It’s also difficult to find the perfect match, not to mention expensive!

Can I match carpet with my hardwood floors?

Yes, carpet is great for matching with hardwood as it’s a different texture and depth. It’s important to choose a tone that complements your wood. Consider taking home a few swatches or samples from your local retailer before you buy.

Can I position two different types of hardwood next to each other?

Yes, but you must be careful with contrast. Try not to pick too similar a shade or style, as this can suggest you ran out of supply! Try using metal transition strips or wooden thresholds to split the two styles.

Do I have to set up a hardwood staircase as a transition?

No, it can be carpeted or painted, but it should act as a transition when you have different colored floors. You may wish to use carpet for your stairs as a visual midpoint. It’s safer than hardwood, too! 

Can I change the direction of my hardwood flooring from room to room?

Ideally, you shouldn’t change the direction you lay hardwood panels in, as it can interrupt your visual flow. If you’re laying panels directly onto joists, it’s a safety issue! Always follow the joist direction and copy this across your home.

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Graham is a writer and DIY enthusiast based in Yorkshire, England. A keen follower of Feng Shui, there’s nothing he loves more than breathing new life into a space. Whether it’s laying flooring or building garden furniture from scratch, Graham’s years of DIY experimentation has led him down some pretty interesting project paths!

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