Flooring direction can make a big difference in the overall look of a room. It can also affect functionality, like reducing the amount of dirt or debris that tracks into an entryway.

Generally speaking, wood flooring looks best when the boards run parallel to the room’s longest wall. This can lengthen a room and create a clean, classic appearance.

Optimal Directions

When installing new wood floors in an open-concept home, it's important to make sure that your flooring flows seamlessly. One of the most practical ways to do this is by running your planks in the same direction as the ceiling joists. This will ensure that your flooring has a strong and sturdy foundation. It's also the most visually appealing option.

However, if you have a more eclectic style, installing your wood flooring perpendicular to the joists may be better. This will create a more dynamic look, and it will allow your wood flooring to stand out more from the walls.

Generally speaking, wood flooring should always be installed in a way that leads to the room’s focal point. Whether this is a fireplace, picture window, or other stunning architectural detail, the wood planks should be laid so that they naturally guide your eye to this point.

Another practical consideration when choosing your floorboard direction is how easy installing will be. If you're installing the flooring yourself, it will be much easier to lay the boards widthwise in narrow rooms or hallways. This will help prevent the boards from creating a boxed-in effect and make the room feel larger and more spacious.

As for the length of the rooms, it's typically best to have your flooring run parallel to the longest wall. This will make the room feel larger and more spacious and allow the space to feel more connected to adjacent rooms.

In terms of flooring transitions, it's usually best to have the hardwood flooring in each room flow perpendicular to doorways. This will prevent a choppy transition between the different rooms and will also ensure that no visible gaps appear in the doorway.

Of course, there are a number of other factors to consider when deciding which direction your wood planks should run. There's no right or wrong answer, as it really comes down to personal taste and how you want the rooms in your home to look. You can also play around with the layout of your floorboards and experiment with horizontal, vertical, or diagonal styles. For example, herringbone or diagonal patterns can contrast a floor beautifully.

Narrow Rooms

Narrow rooms can often be a challenge to design. Even with minimal furniture and an appropriately sized room, these spaces can feel cramped if the right flooring or paint color isn’t used. If you have a long and narrow space in your home, there are many steps you can take to make it look wider. Choosing the right wood floor is one of those steps.

The conventional wisdom is to run wood floors parallel to a room’s longest wall. This helps to open up the space and make it appear bigger, but what if you’re trying to create a different style for a particular room? The answer is to consider running your wood planks diagonally. Diagonal lines work well in a room and can add depth to the floor, making the room appear wider.

In fact, this trick was used in older homes before the advent of laminate flooring. Solid wood expands dominantly across the grain, so running it diagonally helps minimize any gaps the natural expansion and contraction would otherwise cause.

Using this design tip in the right room can make all the difference. You’ll find that your home can feel more expansive without sacrificing the quality and durability of your wood floors.

Narrow spaces are also a good place to experiment with other design tricks to help your floor look its best. For example, placing rugs in key places can break up a room’s long, narrow shape and provide a focal point that draws the eye away from the walls. Similarly, using a textured or patterned floor in a narrow room can make the space feel warmer and more inviting.

If you’re unsure what to do with your flooring in a specific room, talk to a flooring expert to see what they recommend. They’ll be able to give you their professional opinion on what works and doesn’t work and will be able to offer suggestions based on their years of experience. In the end, it’s important to trust your gut instinct and choose what makes you happy — and that goes for both flooring direction and overall aesthetics.

High-Traffic Areas

Foot traffic can wear away all flooring, even the most durable materials. That’s why it’s important to consider the demands of high-traffic areas when selecting a new surface for any space. Areas that see lots of foot traffic—like entryways, hallways, and mudrooms—can be particularly vulnerable to stains and scratches from the constant movement of shoes or carts full of dirty gear. High-traffic areas also tend to get wet more frequently than other spaces, so choosing water-resistant or waterproof options is a must.

Carpet may be an unexpected option for heavy-traffic areas, but it’s actually a great choice in many cases. Modular carpet tiles can be removed for easy cleaning and replaced as needed, and they offer plenty of design flexibility to elevate the look of any room. Plus, a well-made commercial carpet can be very durable and sound-absorbing.

Hardwood flooring is another popular choice for high-traffic areas. Wood floors can last for decades when they are sanded down and refinished. However, prefinished solid wood and engineered wood—which are layers of plywood and other materials topped with a thin slice of real hardwood veneer and a protective coating—don’t stand up as well in Consumer Reports’ surface-wear tests.

Laminate is an affordable, durable option for high-traffic areas. Its layered construction gives it the appearance of tile, hardwood, or stone for a fraction of the price. Plus, it’s simple to install yourself, saving you on the cost of professional installation.

Vinyl flooring is another highly effective option for high-traffic areas. LVF or luxury vinyl tile comprises protective layers that support resistance to scuffs, scratches, and stains, making it a great choice for kitchens and hallways. Plus, it comes in a wide range of styles to complement any design scheme.

While durability is important for any space, it’s especially vital in high-traffic areas where a floor must look beautiful and feel comfortable while standing up to abuse and repeated cleaning. Use these considerations to find the perfect flooring for your home or business and create a space that looks amazing.


Most flooring shoppers are focused on the styles that accentuate their home, but it is important to think about the way your floor will transition between rooms. Flooring transitions serve three essential purposes -- they make a cleaner-looking seam between flooring types, hide the expansion gap for both materials and help bridge the difference in heights that can cause tripping hazards.

A wide variety of transition profiles are available to fit the needs of different floor coverings and spaces. For example, a transition strip designed to meet the thickness of tile and carpet is ideal for areas where two distinct floors meet. It is also a good choice for stairways, creating a more finished look and helping prevent tripping hazards.

Other floor types, such as wood to hardwood, require a more substantial transition. A wider (about 5 inches) transition piece is typically used in these situations. This is called a seam binder or quarter round and can be stained to match either floor. These wood floor transitions are not attached to either floor, and they provide an open space for each material to expand and contract without cracking the transition strip.

These transitions are a great option for open floor plans where one large room, such as a kitchen or living area, connects to another space, like a hallway or bedroom. They can separate the space’s different uses and create a visual boundary that helps reduce noise and traffic in an open plan.

Choosing the right color for your transition flooring can greatly impact its appearance and be an important design consideration. In general, you want to choose a transition color that coordinates with the overall colors and tones of your flooring. For example, a dark natural wood look or wood grain laminate works well with almost any type of wood floor.

Many homeowners ask if it is necessary to use transition pieces when the same floor type is being installed in several rooms. While it is possible to install the flooring and leave a small gap for expansion between rooms, a transition strip is a good idea because it will protect the edges of your new flooring from the wear and tear and foot traffic that can happen at the edge of an unprotected gap. It will also add a little more style and definition to the edge of the room.