Matching Brand Styles to Your Vision (Explained)

Installing new hardwood floors can completely transform the look and feel of a home. With so many brands and styles to choose from, it’s important to select a floor that aligns with your personal vision. Carefully considering your lifestyle, aesthetic preferences, and budget will help guide you towards flooring that suits your needs. Follow these tips from a hardwood flooring expert to match top brands to your ideal style.

Define Your Lifestyle and Needs

Before even looking at brands, get clear on how you live and what you need from your floors.

  • Do you have kids or pets that will run, play, and potentially scratch the floors? Opt for extra durable finishes.
  • Is moisture an issue in kitchens or bathrooms? Choose wood species or engineered floors that can handle humidity.
  • Will shoes frequently be worn on the floors? Consider materials that resist scuffing.
  • What room functions will the floors serve? Formal living rooms vs. high-traffic hallways call for different materials.
  • Do you prefer a quieter walking sound or more natural hardwood echo? Engineered options can provide sound dampening.

Once you determine functionality required, you can narrow down wood types and finish options suitable for your lifestyle.

Identify Your Design Aesthetic and Vision

Wood floors can range from rustic and casual to formal and elegant. Define your personal style before shopping.

  • Traditional, modern, minimalist, industrial, bohemian? Match floors to your overall decor vision.
  • Do you gravitate towards warm wood tones or cooler gray and brown colors? Stay consistent.
  • Is there an era or region that inspires you? Many brands replicate vintage or location-specific looks.
  • What tone do you want to set – calm and cozy or sleek and contemporary? Choose materials and colors to match.
  • Are you wanting to make a bold statement or prefer an understated, neutral palette? Factor this into wood style and finish choices.

Understanding the mood, textures, eras, and tones that appeal to you will guide your brand selection. Pull inspiration images to articulate your vision.

Compare Brands Within Your Budget

With a clear lifestyle purpose and design aesthetic defined, start exploring brands that fit your budget.

Hardwood flooring falls into broad price points:

Entry Level ($3-5/sq.ft installed) – Brands like Bruce, Pergo, Mohawk, Shaw

Mid Range ($6-9/sq.ft installed) – Brands like Armstrong, Shaw, Mannington, Mullican

Premium ($9-13/sq.ft installed) – Brands like Bellawood, Mirage, Kahrs, DuChateau

Of course many factors like exotic species, custom designs, and enhanced finishes impact specific floor pricing. Use these general brackets to gauge affordability. Consider lifetime maintenance costs too – some materials require frequent sanding and refinishing which incur additional long term expenses.

Overall, buying quality floors from reputable brands ends up costing less than replacing cheap options every few years. Invest for the long haul.

Compare Brand Styles and Features

With your parameters defined, start narrowing down brands that meet your criteria across lifestyle needs, design aesthetic, and budget. Compare across these key factors:

Species/Materials Offered

Red oak, white oak, maple, hickory, exotic woods? Engineered or solid? What durable materials suit your purposes?

Color/Stain Options

Do they offer a wide range of stains, from natural to colored? Can custom/site finishing be done?

Gloss Levels

Satin, matte, gloss? Do they have textured finishes like wire-brushed or hand-scraped options?

Installation Types

Nail/staple-down, glue-down, floating, locking? What works for your subfloor and DIY vs. pro install?

Size/Width Options

Wide plank? Narrow strip? Mixed widths? Traditional or unique dimensions to match your style?

Certifications

FSC, NOFMA, CARB compliant? Seek sustainable, ethical harvesting practices.

Warranties/Guarantees

Look for at least 25 years on finish warranties, and lifetime structural guarantees.

Researching the nuances between brand selection will help you find the right fit. Don’t compromise on must-have features or you won’t end up fully satisfied.

Review Brand Spotlights

Now that we’ve covered how to match flooring features to your needs, let’s spotlight a few top brands in each price tier.

Entry Level Brand Spotlight

Bruce

Bruce is one of the most recognized and widely available basic brand options from Armstrong Flooring. Their lines offer a good range of oak, maple, and exotic species in common plank dimensions. Expect nice warranties for the affordable price point.

Ideal Customer: First-time hardwood buyer seeking an entry-level floor with basic colors and finishes.

Pergo

Pergo’s laminates come in oak and exotic visuals with scratch-resistant technology. As a lower maintenance option, they work well for families and pets. Lots of color choices, from washed grays to bold mahogany.

Ideal Customer: Seeking easy-install laminate in casual styles with durability for busy homes.

Shaw

A huge brand in carpeting, Shaw also offers competitively priced solid and engineered hardwood. Their DuraBeauty line resists dents and scratches at an affordable cost.

Ideal Customer: Values durability and wants wide color/finish options on a moderate budget.

Mid Range Brand Spotlight

Armstrong

Armstrong has engineered hardwood collections with commercial level warranties for heavy residential use. Their flooring offers sound dampening, making it ideal for multi-story homes.

Ideal Customer: Seeking engineered flooring with exceptional durability, structure, and noise reducing features.

Mohawk

Mohawk’s broad hardwood collections cater to every style. Exotic species, extra wide planks, unique colors, and hand-scraped finishes allow tons of customization.

Ideal Customer: Wants to fully customize wood style/finish without premium prices.

Mullican

Made in America, Mullican uses sustainable domestic hardwoods. Their collections include wire-brushed, hand-stained, and reclaimed options. Great for achieving a rustic cottage or traditional style.

Ideal Customer: Likes character finishes and environmentally responsible production.

Premium Brand Spotlight

Mirage

A go-to recommendation from professionals, Mirage’s hardwood offers unparalleled quality and craftsmanship. Species from domestic to exotic, countless colors and finishes. Made in Quebec.

Ideal Customer: Seeking the highest level of bespoke customization regardless of budget.

Bellawood

Known for superior durability from advanced finishing technology, Bellawood offers 75 year warranties. Their wide plank comes in signature lines like Artisan Maple and American Cherry.

Ideal Customer: Wants gorgeous flooring designed to last decades with minimal maintenance.

Kahrs

This Swedish engineered hardwood brand leads in sustainability and durability. Their thin planks enable unique designs like herringbone. Materials sourced from European forests.

Ideal Customer: Values eco-friendly production and ability to shape versatile planks.

No matter your budget, an ideal brand exists that can deliver on your lifestyle, design, and durability needs. Comparing warranty details, customer reviews, and company track records can further guide your buying decision. Don’t compromise quality for the long-term investment that hardwood floors provide.

Match Your Home Style

Beyond factors like cost and wood types, selecting a floor brand also depends heavily on achieving your desired decorative style. Matching wood floors to home designs requires considering layout, color schemes, and ornate versus understated elements. Use this guide for choosing flooring brands tailored to common decor styles.

Traditional Style Floors

Traditional interiors featuringinherited furniture pieces, patterned fabrics, dark woods, and ornate details require classic flooring options.

  • Species: Oak, maple, walnut, cherry
  • Plank Dimensions: 2 1/4″ to 3″ wide
  • Color/Stain: Medium to dark wood tones
  • Finish: Satin sheen, hand-scraped distressing

Brands: Somerset, Armstrong, Bruce, Shaw

Rustic Style Floors

Rustic styles full of reclaimed woods, patinas, and farmhouse elements pair best with floors that reinforce the cozy vintage look.

  • Species: Reclaimed barnwood oak, pine
  • Plank Dimensions: Wide planks up to 8″
  • Color/Stain: Raw wood or whitewashed grays/browns
  • Finish: Wire-brushed, hand-stained, and scraped

Brands: Carlisle, Appalachian, Mullican, Mirage

Contemporary Style Floors

Contemporary and modern decor featuring polished finishes, bold colors, and minimalist forms requires flooring that accentuates those elements.

  • Species: Walnut, maple, ash, oak, exotic
  • Plank Dimensions: Wide planks 5″ and up
  • Color/Stain: Neutrals like warm beige and gray
  • Finish: Matte and low-sheen gloss

Brands: Bruce, Shaw, Mohawk, Kahrs

Cottage Style Floors

Cottage style rooms full of painted furniture, floral patterns, and vintage accessories look best with relaxed wood floors that feel collected over time.

  • Species: Oak, maple, birch
  • Plank Dimensions: Mixed widths
  • Color/Stain: Whitewashed pastels
  • Finish: Hand-scraped and wire brushed

Brands: Armstrong, Homerwood, Mannington, Shaw

Eclectic Style Floors

For bold and eclectic rooms with global antique elements, opt for reclaimed woods or vivid stained finishes.

  • Species: Reclaimed exotic woods
  • Plank Dimensions: Random widths
  • Color/Stain: Bold teals, purples, reds
  • Finish: Glossy

Brands: NeoTimber, Mirage Heritage, HomerWood

Industrial Style Floors

Industrial decor featuring concrete, black metals, and a sparse vintage factory look requires simple, raw wood underfoot.

  • Species: Oak, elm, pine
  • Plank Dimensions: Narrow strip
  • Color/Stain: Natural light to charcoal
  • Finish: Matte

Brands: SimpleWood, American Heritage, Shaw

Whatever your interior design vision, flooring manufacturers offer products to match – from traditional oak boards to vivid stained exotics. Choose a brand aligned with your desired aesthetic.

Evaluate Room Function

Beyond overall home decor style, carefully consider room functions when selecting wood floor brands. High-traffic spaces need more durable options than formal living areas. Use this guide when choosing floors based on room usage.

Entryways

At main home and mud room entryways, moisture and debris make durability key. Look for protected finishes.

  • Species: Oak, walnut, maple, hickory
  • Finish: Urethane-infused acrylics
  • Installation: Nail-down or floating

Brands: Bruce LongPlank, Cali Vinyl Pro, Shaw

Kitchens

Kitchens need to withstand not only foot traffic but spills, dripping moisture, chair scrapes, and more. Opt for highly scratch-resistant woods.

  • Species: American walnut, maple, oak, hickory
  • Finish: Commercial grade aluminum oxide
  • Installation: Nail-down or floating

Brands: Mirage TruBalance, Armstrong, Pergo Extreme

Bathrooms

In baths, water resistance and slip-resistance are essential. Choose harder wood species with textured finishes.

  • Species: Teak, ipe, oak, walnut
  • Finish: Hand-scraped and matte
  • Installation: Glue-down

Brands: Hallmark Floors, EcoTimber, Kahrs

Living & Dining Rooms

Formal living areas need refined but durable floors that create an inviting backdrop for furnishings and art.

  • Species: Walnut, cherry, oak
  • Finish: Low-sheen gloss
  • Installation: Nail-down

Brands: Somerset, Hallmark, Shaw, Mullican

Bedrooms

Bedrooms benefit from more sound absorbing floors that dampen noise from elsewhere in the home. Consider engineered options.

  • Species: Maple, oak birch ply
  • Finish: Natural oiled
  • Installation: Floating

Brands: Mirage QuietWalk, HomerWood, Pergo MAX

Evaluating room-specific needs ensures your new floors can withstand daily use and traffic patterns. Don’t put delicate flooring in high-maintenance rooms.

Choose Installation Type

Installation type should be coordinated with your flooring brand selection to ensure proper pairing. Consider these pros and cons of common installation methods:

Nail or Staple Down

  • Pro: Firmly bonds planks to subfloor for stability
  • Con: Labor intensive install requiring removal of baseboards
  • Brands: Bruce, Shaw, Mirage – most solid wood options

Glue Down

  • Pro: Permanently bonds floors for minimized movement
  • Con: Sound dampening benefits but messy install
  • Brands: Kahrs, Hallmark – primarily engineered products

Floating Floors

  • Pro: DIY-friendly click lock system, no adhesives
  • Con: Raised instability if moisture leaks underneath
  • Brands: Pergo, Armstrong, Mannington – laminates and engineered

Breakdown by Room

Entryways = floating or nail-down for low-mess install

Kitchens & baths = floating or glue-down for water resistance

Bedrooms & basements = floating for noise reduction

Living rooms = nail-down for classic stability

Check manufacturer guidelines and warranties before pairing products with installation methods. Some offer free installation or professional recommendations.

Care for Floors Over Time

Avoid “buyer’s remorse” by researching how to care for your investment long-term. Follow brand guidelines for:

Regular sweeping/vacuuming: Remove abrasive debris to prevent scratches

Seasonal humidity monitoring: Keep indoor moisture 40-60% to avoid planks warping

Area rugs: Place in high-traffic zones to prevent localized wear

Furniture pads: Apply beneath chair/table legs to disperse floor contact

Refinishing schedule: Buff and recoat worn areas every 3-5 years

Spot repairs: Fill nicks/gouges with matching wood putty then refinish

With proper care, quality hardwood flooring will only look better with age. Take time to maintain your floors according to manufacturer recommendations. Their longevity will reward your efforts.

Achieve Your Dream Floors

The range of hardwood flooring brands and products allows you to realize virtually any style vision. Defining your functional needs and decorative goals will guide you to flooring that perfectly matches your home.

Do your research, examine warranties, and don’t be tempted by cheap products that will require replacement soon. Investing in one of the quality brands profiled will ensure beautiful, durable hardwood underfoot for decades to come.

With persistence and patience during the selection process, you will find flooring that aligns with your lifestyle, design aesthetic, and budget. Achieve floors that you’ll admire – and that will increase your home value – for generations.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Even once you’ve selected the ideal hardwood floor brand and style for your home, improper installation and maintenance can undermine your flooring success. Avoid these common pitfalls:

Choosing the Wrong Room

Picking a delicate floor for a heavy-traffic kitchen or plank direction that makes small rooms feel smaller are rookie mistakes. Always consider room size and purpose when planning hardwood layout.

Ignoring Subfloor Prep

Many flooring problems can be traced back to inadequate subfloor leveling, cleaning, and moisture testing before install. Don’t rush this foundational step.

Incorrect Expansion Gaps

Leaving adequate expansion space around the perimeter and between boards allows your floors room to expand and contract. Follow manufacturer gap guidelines.

Using Wrong Adhesive

Be sure all glues, adhesives, and underlayments are approved for your specific flooring product. Off-label products can damage planks.

Rushing Installation

Don’t try to install an entire house of flooring in one weekend! Rushed timelines often lead to improper nailing, gaps, cuts, and alignment issues.

Putting Off Finish Coats

Some flooring warranties require that final urethane coats be applied within six months of installation. Don’t neglect this step.

Ignoring Acclimation

Wood planks must acclimate to your home’s temperature and humidity for 72+ hours before install. Don’t skip this acclimation period.

Using Wrong Cleaners

Laminate vs. hardwood each require specially formulated cleaners. Using off-the-shelf products can damage floors.

By planning thoroughly and following all manufacturer instructions for install and care, you can avoid missteps. Patience and diligence will ensure your floors look beautiful for decades.

Final Takeaways

Installing new hardwood floors offers the chance to transform your home’s style. By choosing a brand aligned with your vision, lifestyle needs, and decor, you can create a beautiful backdrop for years of memories. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Determine room functions and traffic patterns
  • Identify your preferred decorative style
  • Compare brands’ material offerings and warranties
  • Consider total budget including installation and maintenance
  • Coordinate install method with flooring selection
  • Review care guidelines and commit to regular upkeep

With research and forethought prior to purchase, you can select flooring that will impress for generations in your home. Always buy quality over quantity, and take time to properly install and care for your investment. The beauty of natural wood floors will make the effort worthwhile.

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