Dark vs Light Hardwood Floor – Which is Better?

Hardwood is a popular indoor flooring material around the world due to its timelessness, strength, and durability.

Hardwood floors come in various styles and colors. The sheer variety of choices may make it difficult for homeowners to decide what’s right for them.

When narrowing down choices, it helps to think in terms of categories. One simple way to winnow down options is to separate them into different categories — and one such valuable either/or option is to choose dark or light hardwood flooring.

Each has advantages and disadvantages, and either may be right for your home depending on a number of factors. So, to help you make this crucial decision, we’ve nailed down some of the more important factors between the two. Follow along as we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of dark vs light hardwood flooring.

Dark Vs Light Floors

Dark Hardwood Floors

Dark hardwood floors have a deep, rich, dramatic look that makes them popular in many homes.

Mahogany, cherry, walnut, oak, hickory, ash, and other dark hardwood floors have a strong impression of beauty and luxury that most homeowners love. The dark colors convey a sense of gravitas to a home or a given room.


Consider the benefits of installing a dark hardwood floor:

Does not fade easily: Unlike light colored hardwood floors that fade quickly when continuously exposed to the sun, dark hardwood floors tend to resist fading for a long time.

This makes dark hardwood flooring the best option for rooms where a lot of sunlight is let in.

They don’t show dirt: Dark hardwood floors hide dirt and grime unless the debris is light colored. This can allow you to go longer times without dusting, mopping, or vacuuming — which is especially valuable if you find these tasks tedious.

Although regular cleaning keeps hardwood floors in good shape, cleaning on a daily basis can be a tough, repetitive task.

Increases value of a home: Many homebuyers are attracted to properties with dark hardwood floors as compared to those with light colored floors.

This is due to the strong sense of style and class attached to dark floors. It is therefore the best option if you are planning to resell your home.

Dramatically beautiful: Dark colors enhances wood’s natural character, bringing unique style and a powerful je ne sais quoi to a home.

The dark, natural color suits every traditional décor and also blends well with modern designs.

Less wear and tear: Dark floors do well in high traffic, busy areas such as offices and traffic corridors.

Most dark hardwood floor species are literally strong and tough, and are thus resistant to daily wear and tear.

Finally, compared to light colored floors, dark floors requires less staining and refinishing to look their best.


While dark wooden floor comes with many benefits, there are also downsides to this dramatic flooring color.

Does not hide scratches: Scratches are more noticeable on a dark colored hardwood floor than light floor surfaces.

They usually have a darker finish than the wood itself. Any scuff mark in the finish exposes the wood, which appears as a noticeable imperfection.

Not a choice for pets: Pets will notoriously scratch a hardwood floor while playing. Since scratches are more noticeable on dark hardwood floors, a pet will make your floor take a beating.

Furthermore, pet hair and other light colored debris are more conspicuous on dark floors.

Makes a room appear smaller: Dark colors absorb light, making a room to appear dark and smaller. It is therefore not a good choice for areas with limited spaces.

However, you can balance this by choosing light colored décor and furnishings.

Light Hardwood Floors

Light hardwood floors have maintained a long-standing rivalry with their dark colored counterparts, and of course have many proponents in both the homebuilding and interior designing industries. The trends seem to be shifting towards this timeless and traditional floor color.

Many homeowners love this easy-to-work-with floor. Pine, maple, white oak, and other light colored hardwood floors come with plenty of benefits.


Works with most internal décor: Light colored floors are subtle, and thus are able to work with most furnishings and fixtures.

This is the right pick if you want your signature pieces of furniture or classic decorative wallpaper to shine.

Expands your space: Light hardwood floors have an optical trick that makes a room feel larger and bright. They reflect light, thus brightening up a space.

This makes them a valuable option for dark rooms or for areas with limited space.

They hide scratches and scuffs: Light colored hardwood floors provide great camouflage for scratches and light colored messes.

They are suitable for homes with pets and children who are notorious for scratching and messing up a floor’s surface.


Prone to wear and tear: Most light colored hardwood floor species are prone to scratches and denting, especially when installed in high traffic areas.

Light-colored Douglas fir, birch, and pine requires proper care and maintenance for its best look.

Fewer options: Light floors have fewer options to pick from.

Dark hardwood floors comes in a wide range of shades that offer plenty of options for a homeowner to choose from.

Prone to stains: Stains can be more noticeable on a light floor than a dark one.

This places the color in a situation where stains must be prevented or promptly removed with an appropriate cleaner.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Hardwood Floor Color

Color is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a hardwood floor.

When comparing dark vs. light hardwood for your flooring project, you’ll want to consider the following:

The color of your fixtures and furnishings: Your indoor fixtures and furnishings should not disguise your floors, but rather complement them well.

Dark hardwood floors work best for light colored walls, bright furniture, rugs and cabinets. The converse is also true for light colored floors.

Floor usage: What is the amount of traffic you expect on your floor? Do you have pets or children?

These are key questions you should answer before choosing a floor color. Busy household or high traffic spaces require a resilient color that resists wear and tear — and, for that, dark is the best choice.

Size and of the room: The bright color of a floor does well in small or dark rooms by making them appear larger and brighter.

Spacious rooms can still do well with either light or dark floors. But if the room receives direct sunlight, a dark color that resists fading is the right choice.


Both light and dark hardwood floors offers a unique sense of style, beauty, and a timeless value to a home.

All hardwood floors require proper cleaning and maintenance to make them remain beautiful and strong.

The color of your wood does not protect it from water or moisture damage. Wood will warp, twist, or rot when exposed to water or moisture.


Regardless of your preferred choice of a floor color, the way you take care of your hardwood floor will determine how long it lasts, how it looks, and the value effect on your home. Choose wisely and you’ll be pleased with your floors for a long time. After all, it’s one of the most important parts of a house.

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