Trends in wood floor finishes continue to evolve in response to advances in technology, fashion and consumer demand. Lighter colors, textured surfaces and lower-luster finishes are playing up the raw, natural beauty of wood. Creativity in product development among suppliers is opening up design possibilities and offering today’s consumers more options than ever before to showcase their personal style.

Trending Finishes

Cerused Wood

“Three of today’s hottest trends are longer, wider planks, wire-brushed surfaces and cerused visuals,” said Roger Farabee, senior vice president of laminate and hardwood for Mohawk Flooring.

Known as limed oak or pickling, cerused finishes were a popular treatment on furnishings throughout the Art Deco era and were also employed by mid-century modern furniture designers. The original technique used a mixture of lime and water, applied to wood to soften its natural color and create a white-washed effect. The treatment was often seen in high-end European flooring and has been gaining traction in the United States for several years.

Q-Wood by Quick-Step is expanding its Elongé wider and longer collection to include wire-brushed floors with cerused wood visuals. The effect has a hand-crafted quality that Farabee said appeals to consumers seeking hardwood floors that bring a rustic, time-worn, or character wood look to a room. The cerused finish features a combination of gray, white and beige tones.

Shaw Flooring introduced Harbor Hill, an engineered product inspired by the centuries-old liming technique, featuring color shifts in gray and white washed over each plank. The product is available in one color, measures 5 inches wide and is 3/8-inches thick.

Shades of Gray

Gray remains in favor as the fresher neutral. The trend started on the West Coast and has been embraced across the country with gray-stained wood flooring being specified by designers to modernize rooms. Tones range from light pebble colors to deep, saturated charcoals. Gray tones are a fresh way to highlight grain and texture of wood, adding visual interest to a room, and they complement many design styles and palettes.

Armstrong’s New Artisan Collective collection features distressed in layered, multi-dimensional tones. “Here, white washed stains reveal natural or gray undertones for a minimalist, muted statement,” said Lauren Bergman, hardwood product marketing manager, Armstrong. Black washed natural and brown tones enliven Walnut’s distinctive grain with abundant color variation.

With a nod to the trend of light, fresh interiors, Mannington’s 2017 hardwood flooring designs combine rustic elements with softer, less saturated hues for a clean aesthetic. The introductions include wide, long planks that are subtly textured and distressed, then stained in an on-trend color palette. These floors are at home in interiors from classic to contemporary; urban to farmhouse. The trends reflect consumers’ desire to create a calm, restful feel, according to Betsy Amoroso, senior director, corporate communications, Mannington.

Nordic design—light, uncomplicated and simple—continues to gain traction in interior design. Normandy Oak, a best-selling design in Mannington’s Maison Collection, is updated this year with two new colors. The collection is a classic European-inspired look that’s lightly wire brushed and dual stained to create subtle variation from plank to plank. They are 7 inches wide and up to 7 feet long and feature two new light hues, Bistro and Brulee.


“We are seeing a more organic approach to showing the character of the wood,” said Pamela Rainey, vice president product design at Shaw. “There is a trend toward minimal applied distressing and decreased saw marks. In response, we are celebrating the natural character of the wood by showing the grain, knots and splits. Boards are less uniform and there is a greater color contrast in the grain and between the boards.”

Wire-brushed textures are a leading trend among consumers. Using a wire brush to scrape off the soft top layer of the wood, the technique exposes the wood’s natural grains and texture. Wire-brushed, or wire-scraped, floors provide ease of maintenance because they help to downplay chips, dents and scrapes over the life of the installation.

A unique visual, Urban Loft by Anderson Hardwoods is a wire-brushed, hickory-style floor that seems to meld two entirely different materials—soft fabric and strong wood. “This suede-like surface actually feels soft to the touch,” Rainey said. “Despite all its texture, Urban Loft is not rustic and is ideal for both modern and traditional interiors.”

Anderson Hardwood’s white oak Noble Hall collection presents a rich, stylish, wire-brushed surface. The ply-core engineered, 7-inch-wide planks are offered in nine color variations.

For those who like a more aged appearance, antiqued wood finishes remain a solid choice, but even these finishes are getting a little softer than previous years. For example, full of character with subtle hand scraping, and deep multi-layer hand staining, Iberian Hazelwood by Mannington offers a refined yet dramatic look. This floor features an on-trend matte finish in planks that are 6 1/2-inches wide and in lengths up to 7-feet. The collection is available in four hues: Almond, Chestnut, Macadamia and Pecan.

These textured finishes in hardwood work well for the large, open interiors. Shaw Floors designers played up the natural characteristic of the wood with the introduction of Epic Plus Extreme Nature. Ideal for open spaces, the long and wide planks create extreme visual impact. Each plank is designed in a large-scale format: 9-1/4-inches wide by 82-1/2 inches long by ½ inches thick.

Low Luster

There is a shift toward more low-luster and matte wood floors. Low-gloss woods provide easier maintenance, hiding small scratches and dents better than higher-gloss flooring—a perk for pet owners and those with small children. Low-gloss flooring also does a better job at masking dust and buildup from footprints, making it much to maintain and clean. It also offers a rawer wood look, often highlighting the color and texture of the wood more effectively than a high-shine finish would.

Mannington’s Norwegian Oak features, for example, is a wire-brushed and dual-stained wood with a matte finish. Norwegian Oak planks are 6 1/3-inches wide and available in four hues: Elk, Flurry, Glacier and Rawhide.

All Quick-Step Q-Wood products, including the new Elongé line extensions, feature an “Opulux Performance Enhanced Finish” that illuminates the beauty of the grain, Creating the appearance of an oil finish while maintaining the advantages of a conventional urethane floor. Opulux also provides a protective top coat that shields against stains and every day wear.

“Important to note is that even the highest quality floors are not impervious to scuffs and scratches from years of traffic,” Farabee said. “With our Opulux finish, if a floor begins to show those tell-tale signs of wear, the Q-Wood floor can be easily refreshed with our Renewal Revitalizing Solution. Use of this unique revitalizing solution hides scuffs and scratches providing premium hardwood with extraordinary performance.”