Herringbone Floors: A Traditional Design to Keep Your Eye On
Classic herringbone floors are re-emerging as a distinct favorite. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to installation, materials, and design ideas.
Flooring options in this day and age are seemingly endless. The possibilities present in just wood finishes boggles the mind. But when you include additional elements, such as installation techniques, grout, and trim types, that’s where heads really start spinning. Put simply, there are a ton of interesting ways you can customize your flooring. One particularly striking way? The use of a traditional herringbone design.
Harking back to ancient Roman times, herringbone floors have a rich history. Impressively, they still provide a fresh look today. What’s the reason for their recent comeback? Nostalgia and a yearning for more traditional materials — plus a big dose of character — play a large role. In short, herringbone floors make that classic-but-modern statement and do it in a bold way.
Whether herringbone floors are new to you or you’re smitten and still trying to figure out how to make them work in your home, this guide can help. It points out the best materials, what to think about when it comes to installation, and more.
Herringbone Vs. Chevron Floors
If you’re having trouble pinpointing exactly what herringbone floors are and how you can recognize them, step one is to distinguish them from their close cousin, chevron. Both designs include shorter flooring planks with pointed, arrow-like patterns. However, they differ at the joints. Chevron features angled boards that meet at a central point — it’s arrow-like and extremely symmetrical. The result is a bold look that is aesthetically more severe than herringbone. Herringbone planks end at a 90-degree angle, which are staggered at the joint. This difference changes the pattern to one that seems less rigid, and flows very well throughout a room.
A wide variety of material options exist for creating a herringbone look that is faithful to both your style and space. In fact, just about any rectangular flooring material will work. Natural materials like stone or wood look especially beautiful, as their imperfect textures help counter and soften the inflexible geometric pattern, while the organic tonal variations create subtle fluidity.
Before you choose your materials, make sure to check out the other flooring present in your home and consider how they will go together. Feel free to go with the same materials or slightly different ones when picking out flooring for the herringbone pattern. If using the same materials, the herringbone pattern will create enough difference between the spaces that it won’t be obvious.
As you might expect, there are more factors to consider when installing herringbone floors than other standard configurations. What it essentially comes down to is what you want for the space and your goals for including the flooring pattern. In other words, where do you want to lead the eye. For instance, herringbone flooring in an entryway may require you to forge a pathway leading to the main part of the home so guests naturally head in that direction.
Herringbone can also be used to create the illusion of more square footage in compact areas. The pattern provides a lot of visual movement that can be leveraged to your advantage. For example, lengthen a space visually by strategically positioning the “arrows” of the pattern down the longest length of a room, or widen the space by doing the opposite.
Financially, you should know that installing a herringbone pattern will be more costly than installing a standard floor because more time and expertise are required. When pricing flooring installation, you should be able to get estimates for a basic install and the herringbone install so you can compare the two and see which is more appropriate for your budget.
Are you starting to regret your open floor plan concept? Before you go right to erecting walls, it might be beneficial to consider smart flooring. Open floor plans can be broken up visually by installing a distinctive floor pattern in a certain area, like herringbone in the dining room for example. Use straight flooring planks in the same hue to box in your herringbone inlay so that the distinction appears intentional, but not rigidly designed. Herringbone floors are surprisingly versatile and can look “at home” even in the most elegant and sophisticated rooms. Consider it to elevate and bring interest to the foyer, dining room or even a home office.