How do I choose a floor material and color?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ November 20, 2013 ~ No Comments

I am getting ready to redo my floors. I have cherry chair rails mid-way to the floor and thought of wood flooring. Is that going to be too much wood? How can I make a decision I won't regret?


Jeffrey Anderson

Shara, if there's one thing I've learned after building and remodeling well over 500 homes, it's that there is no predicting taste. I have been in many homes where it seemed as if just about everything clashed, but the owners couldn't have been happier. By the same token, there are probably plenty of people who have been curious as to whether I was color blind after visiting my own house.

My point is that there are numerous people who can give you design advice including some who have had professional training, but none of them will be looking at your home the same way you do. However, I do have a couple of suggestions that may help with selecting your floor covering.

Are you thinking about pre-finished hardwood or is sand in place what you have in mind? If it's pre-finished, a local home improvement store or flooring distributor may allow you to take a few pieces of various woods and finishes home to get an idea of how they'll look adjacent to the chair rail.

Comparing sand and finish wood varieties and finishes requires a little more work, but is still possible. Almost every wood floor installation has a few scraps left over so it shouldn't be a problem getting some small pieces from an installer or distributor. Small containers of wood floor stain are available at most home improvement stores and can be applied to the samples with a rag. If you're fairly sure hardwood is your choice but just need to pick the color, an installer would probably be more than happy to stain a few samples.

The only problem with looking at samples is that sometimes it can be difficult to envision how an entire room might appear with those colors. It can be one thing to see two square feet of cherry stained hardwood next to your cherry chair rail and another to see the whole first floor done that way. The same issue exists with many other finish materials used when building or remodeling a home such as brick, ceramic tile, or even kitchen cabinets. That's why I usually suggest to customers that they look at a home that has the product installed.

In your case, ask your local hardwood flooring distributors or installers if they have recently installed any cherry stained hardwood in a home that also had cherry stained trim. It wouldn't have to be chair rail - I would think stained baseboard or even crown molding would be enough to get an idea of how all that wood done in the same color might affect the room's appearance. In my experience, contractors are normally happy to show off their work and their previous customers often like to talk about their homes.

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