We just installed a herringbone wood floor in white oak, and although it was a small headache, they changed the look of the house… and they are worth, every, penny! They are still unfinished in these photos.
Herringbone floors are trending on the home design scene in a major way. They evoke feelings of luxury and a custom touch. Walk through a few construction or remodeling projects and you’ll see gorgeous parquet wood floors are a resurgent trend!
After this post you will know
- the right width to choose for your home
- the cost to install herringbone floors (what I paid per square foot)
- where and which direction to lay the floors
What is the difference between parquet, chevron, and herringbone flooring?
Parquet is just the umbrella term that geometric floor shapes fall under, including both chevron and herringbone patterned floors. Here is some parquet flooring we stumbled upon in a cute shop in Paris, in a chevron pattern:
You can identify chevron by the repeated zigzag “V” design. Below are herringbone floors in a bathroom, identified by the staggered “V” pattern.
With the cost of flooring high as it is, you may be tempted to stick to the safe option of basic plank wood flooring. But there are ways to make herringbone work on a smaller scale, too. Here’s how you can make your floors unique from the everyday plank, in a way you won’t regret!
All about herringbone wood floors, installation troubles, how to choose the right width and our exact floor width
We brought in new herringbone wood floors from our front door and entryway leading down two hallways, into a powder bath and our kitchen. They butt up against the older, narrow planks in several rooms.
Our white oak herringbone wood floors, still unfinished
Herringbone enlarged our rooms, particularly in smaller spaces such as our entrance. The pattern shows movement and draws your eye forward! See the difference below in our entry:
Right when you walk in our home you see the pattern leading into the home to the back living room. This leads the eye to take in the beauty of the home, right from the front door!
When Herringbone Installation Goes Wrong
Initially we installed 5″ wide herringbone floors in our home. I chose the large planks because we have spacious rooms and high ceilings, but I remained undecided if more narrow boards would have looked better running next to our older, narrow planks.
In an unfortunate turn of events, it became apparent our installer mistakenly gave us the wrong flooring! We didn’t realize his mistake until all the floors in the house were sanded down, but he had given us red oak herringbone. Our home already had 2.375″ white oak wood floors running in all the rooms. White oak is darker, more beige. Red oak is lighter, more pink. They stain differently. Of course we wanted all the floors to match.
He removed the red oak (don’t worry, he told us he saved most of it for a future project) and reinstalled the correct white oak herringbone floors. After seeing how the wide planks looked, we chose a more narrow board at 3.375″ x 20 wide.
See the difference below, before:
The whole ordeal was a headache, but this one had a happy ending!
What width is popular right now? How do I choose a herringbone width?
- Narrow herringbone under 3.375″ in width allow the maximum amount of the herringbone pattern to fit in a room, displaying the beauty of the wood pattern! This works well with traditional decor; it gives off classic, European vibes. Also, if you are matching older, straight planks, this size is one to consider. Narrow planks require more cuts so the install is priced higher. We chose 3.375″ x 20″ for our classic home.
- Medium herringbone would generally be considered over 3.375″ to 5″ in width. A popular choice, this will look great in small or large rooms.
- Wide herringbone is wider than 5″, running up to 8″ in width at least. Wider planks are more contemporary in style and are in the most demand currently, according to Mohawk. The widest of planks might be up to 37″ in length – these work best in modern or luxuriously roomy spaces where the pattern and the beauty of the wood can still be admired!
The Cost of Herringbone Wood Floor… What Did I Pay?
These statement pieces are more of a headache for the installer and you will pay for the extra labor!
You can buy the floors several ways. You can order the wood planks precut from the mill in your custom size, and ready for installation. This is the more expensive option. For 833 square feet, expect to pay at LEAST $6 per square foot for materials only, no labor. I was quoted approximately $6,000 for 5″ wide white oak herringbone floors, for materials only. For reference, I live in North Carolina and this was May 2022.
Or, you can go the more affordable route and order straight unfinished wood planks. Instead, you will pay a higher labor fee with this option. Your flooring installer will cut each piece individually on site, before install.
Any time you have extra cuts or extra work for the installer, you will pay a premium. This goes for herringbone wood floor, laying out tile, bricks, etc.
Our Floor Details
We finished our herringbone with water based Bona Natural sealer and Bona Traffic HD. The planks are 3.375″ x 20″ in white oak – perfect for a home that leans classic. Labor will depend on your location so I am not sharing labor costs, but the materials were just over $6000+ for 833 sq ft.
Where To Install Herringbone Flooring
Consider this a work of art for your home. It will grab attention. Regardless of budget, choose just one or two places for herringbone to elevate that certain space above the others.
Where are the rooms you aren’t using rugs? I considered herringbone for our living room, but with most of the floor being covered by a rug, the flooring would be hidden!
Which Direction To Lay A Herringbone Floor?
Find the room’s natural focal point, such as doors at the end of the hallway. Angle the direction so that the boards point towards or away the focal point. Sometimes, this means you may need to switch directions between rooms; just take care not to switch too often in one area.
You can see we had rooms of herringbone running in different directions. As a transition, my installer laid a horizontal piece of flooring in between rooms.
Typically, homeowners choose smaller spaces for herringbone because of the cost and to make it the wow factor. Assuming the room is big enough to display the beauty of the wood, the pattern will work. A kitchen is ideal, an office, or even a primary bedroom is a luxurious idea. Below they work well in a living room:
Staining The Floors
What looks best will all depend on your species of wood. I prefer waterborne polyurethane on both red and white oak. It doesn’t yellow over time (like oil based sealers did to my white oak in a previous home.) Bona Traffic HD is what I used on ours. I find it extremely durable, dries in days faster than a oil poly, and doesn’t yellow floors over time.
4″ white oak planks in our previous home – read about these white oak floors here.
As they say, everything old is new again. I wouldn’t spend any energy worrying about herringbone being a trend. I would focus on choosing the right size and style to fit the architecture of your home!
Trends come and go, but hardwood floors have longevity, making herringbone wood floors a classic choice for homeowners.
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