Hardwood floors come in nearly an infinite number of colors, shades, and finishes. These wood floor color variances offer the homeowner copious options for creating the exact style and decor they are looking for with their home design. But when you are selecting your hardwood floors, it is helpful to consider your family, lifestyle and other situations when deciding on general light or dark floor tones.

Similar to cars, there are some known factors about color that you should consider when choosing your wood floors. Though automobiles are very different from flooring, their color and finish can have similar challenges. For example, it has been long known that black cars are much harder to keep clean than white ones, however, the general belief is that grey or silver is the easiest to keep clean and shows the least amount of dust, dirt, and scratches. Light floors and dark floors can be very similar in that regard.


Hardwood floors rarely come in back, white or silver colors, so that makes wood flooring substantially different from your car color. Having said that, wood flooring typically is placed into two main color groups or dark wood floors or light wood floors. We say two main wood floor color groups, all well knowing that there is a myriad of shades, tones and hues available, not the least of which is the medium tone wood floor option. But generally light-colored flooring and dark-colored flooring are the typical groups discussed when considering floor tone.

Why Choose Light Or Dark Wood Floors?

The wood floor color or group people tend to choose is highly subjective and often based on personal preference. There are many factors that support light or dark hardwood floors, including overall color palette, home decor and desired effect from the wood floor selection. At the end of the day, people make their dark or light wood choice based on what they prefer. So let’s go over some things to consider when you are deciding between light floor or dark hardwood floors options.

Dark Wood Floors

sample dark wood floorDark wood floors tend to offer a more warm, dramatic and rich look that can result in a bold overall feel in a room. Dark wood flooring should be paired with proper wall colors, furniture, and general decor to make a dramatic statement and to ensure that a room doesn’t end up appearing too dark or cramped. Dark flooring can have a tendency to make a room look a bit darker and/or smaller, so the choices you make for room color and additional accents make a huge difference when choosing dark flooring.

Using lighter colored paint, furniture and accent pieces in your home design is always a good idea when you choose Dark floors. Additionally, if the room you are putting new dark wood floors into has a good amount of natural light it will significantly reduce the dark flooring impact on the size and lighting perception, as will adding sufficient lighting and proper wattage bulbs to brighten up your dark wood floor.

It is important to note, however, that dark wood floors tend to show more dust and debris over lighter wood flooring tones. The simple fact that dust and dirt tend to not be extremely dark, it can stand out in contrast to your darker floor selection. More importantly, wood floors are made of wood that is oftentimes much lighter than the dark floor finish color. So scratches and damage tend to stand out more substantially with dark wood flooring.

**Important Suggestion – If you are going with dark wood floors, choosing a style with a lot of wood grain variations will help mask dirt, wear, and damage.

Light Wood Floors

light color wood floorLighter color shades tend to appeal to people with a more traditional taste or style of flooring. Light color floors can also offer broader design and accent color options that typically make rooms appear larger and brighter. Being more traditional, light wood floors are considered to be more timeless and therefore can have a longer appeal over more trendy floor shades.

Though lighter-colored floors won’t make as much of a strong, bold design statement, light floors are more versatile, common and can be easily used in all rooms, blending with numerous colors, furniture and paint colors. Light-colored wood floors can also improve the bright appearance of rooms that have less natural light. These design options make light floors the obvious choice when you are working with small spaces, limited design and decor color uses.

Finally, given the tone of light floors, they tend to appear cleaner longer. Light-colored flooring often shows less dust, debris than do dark floors and pesky, inevitable scratches and damage will be less obvious.

Considerations For Light Or Dark Floor?

Unfortunately, there is no specific answer to whether dark wood or light flooring is best. There are many factors that come into play when making your floor selection. Here are some of the factors to take into account with the light or dark flooring question, as well as a little insight we have found over the years.

Decor – We suggest that you definitely consider your current decor and furniture when choosing light floors or dark floors. Use these questions to guide you related to home design scenarios.

Are you working with existing furniture or will you be purchasing new decor after your flooring is installed?

Are your decorating options leaning toward lighter or darker pieces and how will those work with either light or dark flooring?

What wall coverings or paint colors will you be using to pair with your wood floor tone?

Lighting – Consider the rooms where you will be installing your new wood floors with respect to size and lighting. If you are dealing with smaller, less lit rooms, focus more on light floors. If you have larger grand spaces that are well-lit, you may want to consider bolder dark floor options.

Children – It’s no secret that younger children can be much harder on the floors. Consider how active your children are, how many children you have and your experience with them as a parent. The more active they tend to be inside, the lighter color floor you might want to choose.

Traffic – Does your home or flooring space have a lot of visitors? The more traffic your floor will be receiving the more dust, debris and imperfections will arise. If you expect that your new space will see considerable traffic from friends and family, consider light floor options. If you anticipate low traffic levels on your new floor, dark floor selections are a great option.

Pets – Pets are part of many families and should be something you think about when choosing your floors. Use the same factors as with children when deciding on light-colored floors or dark-colored floors, but add to it the paw and claw scenarios. 🙂 Most kids don’t have claws, many pets do.

Light or Dark Floor Preference

As we indicated early, light floor or dark flooring choices will ultimately come down to preference. However, being armed with the information we have discussed here, you now have more insight into making your light or dark wood floor selection.