Social media has drastically cut the time it takes for trends to reach the U.S. to just six months, says Leslie Smith, Sherwin Williams Industrial Wood Coatings market development manager. A process that once took several years, Smith says design-focused social media platforms like Pinterest and Houzz are bringing the fashion trends that ultimately influence furniture and interior design to our fingertips and homes in a fraction of the time.

Trending forward, Smith, along with Christina Rowe, DuraSeal senior product manager, gave National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Expo attendees a virtual overview of where hardwood is heading in terms of color and design, as it remains consumers’ favorite flooring choice.

Rowe shared with attendees that according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s (NARI) 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, new installation of wood flooring is among the top eight in terms of appeal to buyers and return on investment (ROI). Consumers view wood flooring as providing 24% better functionality and livability and it offers 106% ROI, making it a better investment than other projects like kitchen upgrades and basement conversions.

In the same report, Rowe says refinishing existing hardwood floors scored in the top eight as well. Consumers indicated that refinishing an existing floor provides 26% better functionality, livability and aesthetics and there’s an estimated 100% ROI.

Smith noted that we are already looking ahead at 2022 to determine the next popular looks for the category. Up next, he says? Bleached looks. “So what’s coming in the future? The bleached look. This will be taking a natural wood and toning it down a little bit. We do this with reactive stains, reactive conditioners, we do this with white top coat. Just something to bring the color down a little bit.”

Other trends in hardwood that he says we can expect to see in the near future are highlighted texture, organic looks and what he refers to as nostalgia. “Nostalgia goes back to that 100 year-old floor finish, or that 100 year-old cabinet finish. The thing that you’ll notice with these browns is that they are a true brown. They aren’t an orange or red, they are a very, very true brown, and that’s playing very highly into what’s coming and what you’re going to see over the next couple years.”

More on the topic of color, Smith shared an upcoming trend that might have come as a surprise to some. “The number-one color, surprisingly, is white.” This is followed by gray he said, which in various shades, both cool and warm, has been a forerunner across flooring categories for several years. “If you can incorporate those colors into what you’re doing in flooring, that’s a great thing.”

Whatever color, texture, product or look chosen on the floor, hardwood included, Rowe says the thing to keep in mind is color translation. “Flooring is often the anchor to the entire room. Wall paint and wallpaper choices, as well as other in-room furnishes, must work well with the floor color choice.”

Keeping Up with Trends

Though trends are quickly changing, Smith says these are a few ways to stay in front of them:

  • Follow designers on social media
  • Attend industry shows and expos
  • Take in person and virtual tours of showrooms
  • Pay attention to what’s seen on television shows
  • Partner with a good supplier and distributor