Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling an existing one, these 2020 flooring trends are worth knowing about.
Recent years have seen the industry developing existing flooring designs and materials into more durable, more sustainable, more aesthetically pleasing options.
So no matter your style, location, price point, or reason for installing new flooring, there is an option that will be a perfect fit for you.
Here are just a few of our favorites:
1. Fumed Wood Flooring
Typically, when you stain wood flooring you are attempting to give the surface a more uniform look while also highlighting its grain. However, recently you might have seen wood flooring that looks as if it may have been stained medium to dark brown, but has lighter blonde running through it.
This is a new, high-fashion trend in flooring called fuming. To achieve the look, wood flooring is exposed to ammonia fumes in a sealed chamber. The ammonia then reacts with the wood fibers which generally imbues the wood a rich, dark tone.
However, the final result of the coloring depends on many factors, most importantly the density and grain pattern of the wood. Because of this, a single board can have varying color depending on how the wood fibers throughout its length react with the ammonia.
Fumed wood flooring has a distinctive variegated look to it, similar to this floor in a luxury Ranch style home, because of the effects of the ammonia fuming process (Plan #161-1118).
The result of this variance is a very unique “stained” wood flooring that actually looks more natural because no two fumed boards look exactly alike. You can learn more about it here.
2. Water, Water, Who Cares?
This is one of the 2020 flooring trends that is sure to last! Waterproof (and resistant) flooring is the perfect solution for large families, people with pets, and homeowners who enjoy entertaining. There are emerging options in vinyl, laminate, and even carpet!
For example, WPC (Wood Plastic Composite) is a vinyl flooring option that is 100% waterproof; you can also choose from premium vinyl laminate flooring with a SPC (stone plastic composite) core, which is more rigid than WPC. All of this means that, yes, you can finally have the authenic look of wooden floors in “wetter” areas of the home, like the mudroom or bathroom.
Using waterproof luxury vinyl flooring with a core of wood or stone plastic composite enables you to use the same flooring throughout the entire house, including bathrooms, as in this 4-bedroom, 2-bath home. From top: Family room, kitchen, bathroom, master suite closet (Plan #142-1237).
Finally, Shaw Floors is putting together waterproof carpet via their LifeGuard Technology. You can see how it works by clicking here.
3. Long and Wide Tile
The aesthetic of tiling has always been smaller portions of materials repeated over a surface. Traditionally, when purchasing tiling as a flooring option, you could pick from a range of different sizes, from 4x4, 4x6, 6x6, and 8x8 up to about 12x12.
In the past, even when choosing a large option like 12 inches by 12 inches, it still meant a substantial number of tiles to cover an average living space. However, 2020 flooring trends are challenging this notion.
Recently, homeowners and builders alike seem to believe that bigger really is better, installing floor and wall tiles that run from one to two feet across, to three or four feet long – and sometimes even larger!
Large tile in porcelain, stone, and other substrates goes extra-wide and extra-long these days, minimizing the dreaded grout line for a sleek, clean look (photo credit: Franck V. on Unsplash).
Why so big? Well, the resulting look is “cleaner” than traditional tiling in that it provides a chic modern look, but it also comes with a very practical aspect, too. Larger tiles mean less components to fill a room, so there are far fewer grout joints to interrupt the surface or worry about keeping clean later on down the line.
4. Mixed-Width Flooring
2020 flooring trends are all about creating options and looks that work best in a variety of situations. Tiling and planking don’t have to be uniform to be chic!
In the past, those who worked with lumber utilized mixed width flooring to make the most of the cut of each tree and not put any wood to waste. However, when used within the home, different sized flooring panels can actually create a more authentic feel in a space, and a pattern that’s totally unique to you.
The boards in this flooring of a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Farmhouse style home range from narrow to quite wide in a randomized pattern that complements the unique coloring and grain pattern of the wood (Plan #142-1206)
You can choose to use both wider and longer boards in certain rooms, while offsetting smaller nooks or side rooms with narrower boards, or if you would prefer, mix all cuts together in the same space to suit your style.
5. Bleached and Blanched Wood
There's nothing quite like beautiful hardwood floors in a refined home. It’s a classic style that is still around and even in 2020 is used often in all kinds of buildings, both commercial and residential. However, there are now more options than ever before for those wishing to install hardwood flooring.
In the past, wood flooring has traditionally been either dark brown, medium brown, or light honey in color. However, a few years ago things began to change and gray tones came into vogue and began popping up. Yet the flooring trends of 2020 are pulling the color scheme in a slightly different direction.
Flooring professionals are lightening up wooden installations by going for a bleached or “blanched look.” By applying bleach to the wood, they neutralize its color, resulting in an ashy light gray to pickled white color that really brightens a room.
Blanched (left) and bleached (right) oak floorboards look very different although the wood species is the same. These “greige” and beige floors are trending, especially in beach and shore homes where the light and fresh look is especially important (photo source: Blue Ridge Hardwood, left, Malibu Wide Plank, right, The Home Depot)
This is a very versatile flooring style, as it can provide contrast to darker colored walls, or nicely compliment lighter ones. Because of its light and airy appeal, this look is especially good for beachy getaways and vacation homes near the water.
6. Tiles Inspired by Nature
While real wood floors are beautiful, if you have children or pets – or just wear hard on your flooring – it’s very easy to damage the wood and leave permanent marks.
This is why in 2020, many people are opting for wood-look plank tiles instead because they are not as prone to chipping, warping, or denting as real wood.
Because of this, the boring kinds of tile are officially out! One of the most exciting flooring trends in 2020 is more tiling inspired by nature.
We’ve all seen the porcelain and ceramic tile that looks like wood before. This style has been popular in areas of the house like mud rooms, laundry rooms, sun rooms for the past few years. However, as the technology and techniques to create these kinds of tiles improve, so does its popularity. For example, plank-tiles now have even more realistic textures and grains so that they more closely resemble wood.
Wood-look tiles, complete with natural-looking grain patterns, are a welcome addition to this bathroom in a Contemporary Ranch home. The tile looks rich and unexpected, and it's slip resistant to boot (Plan #161-1129)!
The trend has even expanded to include tiles that mimic the charred wood appearance of a Japanese wood-preservation technique called “Yakisugi.”
This technique was traditionally used for things like exterior siding, etc., but is now often used inside homes. The result is a finish that ranges from gray-brown to dark brown to nearly black and that is highly textured due to the charring process. The tile picks up the crackle-texture of a charred surface, making for an unusual but beautiful finish.
7. Eco Choices
2020 is all about going green. One of the most interesting flooring trends of this year is the idea of incorporating more eco-friendly options into your building plan.
While there are many ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your new build or remodel, here are two of the most popular trends so far this year:
Another great eco-friendly flooring option is to invest in reclaimed lumber. As you can infer from the name, reclaimed lumber is a green choice because you are using an existing resource instead of discarding it in favor of creating more of the same.
Reclaimed lumber comes from a variety of sources, like old barns, factories, and warehouses – and even old railroad boxcars or other esoteric structures. In the case of flooring
• Old flooring can be sanded, finished, and reused
• Lumber used for other purposes – beams, siding, and the like – cand be resawn, remilled, sanded, and finished to be reused as floorboards.
You get what you get with reclaimed wood, which may be mixed from different sources and even different time periods and which is why grain patterns are usually so interesting, as in this floor in a Luxury Rustic style home with 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths (Plan #202-1017).
The woody substrate of bamboo is similar to wood in its wear-resistance and strength, but it is a much more eco-friendly option.
This is because Bamboo is actually a fast-growing grass that quickly matures into hollow, wood-like poles, reaching full maturity in five to seven years – much quicker than the sources of traditional hardwood.
While some bamboo flooring may be milled to look identical to hardwood, you can get flat-grain bamboo like this sample, which has the tell-tale pattern that comes from the “rings” that are part of bamboo’s identity (photo source: The Home Depot).
Another great reason to invest in bamboo flooring is that the material is termite resistant and comes in a wide variety of stains and plank widths. In addition, its per-unit cost is generally less than that of traditional hardwood flooring. It’s also very easy to install for DIYers, which makes it an attractive option for small business owners flipping houses – or updating their own living spaces.
These 2020 flooring trends are not mere flashes in the pan. Instead, they are the beginning of more sustainable, durable flooring options across the building industry. The trends draw on classic flooring designs to create amazing options for all price points, aesthetics, and locations. While they are “on trend” 2020, they are sure to stay in style long after the new year – making them a great investment.
Footnote: The center photograph in the lead image is by Thanos Pal onUnsplash.