Which Way Should Wood Floor Be Laid?

Last Update:

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Learn more

which way should wood floor be laid

When installing a wood floor, direction is one of the most important decisions. 

Since the direction you lay your wood floor in can change the whole look, it’s best to think about it. You shouldn’t just lay the floor haphazardly and let it look however it’s going to. 

Taking time to think about how the direction of the flooring will affect the room will give you the best results. 

You can either enhance the look of the room or compliment other aspects. For example, if a room is very short, you might want to install the flooring in a way that elongates it. 

There are many ways you can create the illusion of size with how you install your flooring. In this article, we have broken down a few of them so you can get started. 

Ways to Lay Wood Floor: Basic Idea 

There are many ways that you can lay your wood floor in your home. Some of the most popular include:

  • Horizontal to the room 
  • Vertical to the room 
  • Diagonal across the room 
  • In a herringbone pattern 
Carefully consider how you want to lay your wood flooring. It will not be easy to pull up the floor and lay it down again if you change your mind. 

How to Choose Which Way to Lay Wood Floor

how to choose way to lay wood floor

A good rule of thumb when laying wood flooring is to lay it in the direction of your longest wall. 

For example, if you have a narrow room or a hallway, you would lay the floor in that direction. This will give the space a cohesive look that isn’t too jarring upon first entering. 

However, this won’t always be the best way to do things. Sometimes, you want to have a more interesting look that brings out more of the flooring

If you want your flooring to be more noticeable and act as an accent, you can install it horizontally. This means that the planks will be going from side to side instead of down the narrow space. 

This is all a matter of personal taste and there are no rules. Understanding how these directions can change a look can help you decide on one. 


The most common way to install wood flooring is in a horizontal direction. 

Horizontal flooring is when the floor is running in the same direction as the longest wall. This gives a space the most cohesive and matching look. 

If you want your flooring to be tasteful and don’t want it to stand out, this could be a good choice. 

One of the things this can do is make a room look longer. Running the floor in a horizontal direction can direct the flow of the room from beginning to end.  


Installing your floorboards vertically is a great way to widen a space if you want to do that. 

A vertical floor board configuration is a unique look that not every home will have. If you want to create the illusion that the room is wider than it is, this is a great option. 

For example, if you have a long, narrow hallway that you want to appear wider, vertical is the way to go. 

Vertical floor boards will draw the eye from side to side instead of up and down. This gives that illusion of space that you want with a narrow room. 


Diagonal floor boards are another one of the more interesting configurations. 

Generally, diagonal floor boards give you a classy look that is very old-school. Many old homes have diagonal floor boards installed and it can be a very unique look. 

One of the nice things about a diagonal direction is that it isn’t too radical. 

Diagonal configurations don’t vary too much from horizontal or vertical. This will give you a nice, subtle deviation that is unique without being too wild-looking.  


Herringbone is a great pattern that is used in everything from flooring to clothing. 

If you want to step up the unique design of a diagonal layout, herringbone is a great choice. It is similar to diagonal but it has a few extra steps. 

Herringbone goes in a zig-zag pattern. It is very similar to the chevron pattern but uses multiple planks. 

If you are laying your floor yourself, this pattern is not recommended. It can be very difficult to do correctly and takes a lot of skill that is the result of years of training. 

Herringbone can give your home a very modern look that is unlike anything else. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

faq ways wood floor should be laid

  • Does it matter which way I lay flooring?

The most important thing to consider when laying flooring is consistency. 

It doesn’t matter as much what direction you lay the floor in. It only matters that it is the same throughout the house so the look is cohesive and professional. 

  • Do you have to lay laminate left to right?

Generally, you do have to lay laminate from the left to the right. 

While this doesn’t have anything to do with how it looks, it’s still very important. The locking fasteners have to be placed along the wall, which is where the edge will end up. 

  • Is it okay to change the direction of wood flooring between rooms? 

Unless you are doing a complex transition, it is not recommended to change the direction of flooring between rooms. 

This can give your home a haphazard look that won’t be cohesive or professional-looking. It is always best to pick a direction and stick with it. 


The direction that you lay your flooring in is a matter of personal taste. As long as you are consistent with it, you should end up with a beautiful floor. 

By considering the things we have laid out above, you can make the right decision for your home. 

Photo of author


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.

Leave a Comment

3 × four =