What Is a Herringbone Floor Pattern?

The herringbone floor pattern’s popularity has increased in the past few years, especially among those considering parquetry or new floor tilings.

Although it goes way back in history, people are now acknowledging this unique pattern in various aspects of art and architecture, like wallpapers, clothing, and mosaics, but most importantly, it makes for an interesting pattern for parquet floors.

This pattern never goes out of style, irrespective of where you use it. Zigzag patterned floors create a catchy layout, but with perfectly symmetrical lines like those herringbone creates, the floor certainly stands out! Even if you look at it from a far distance, you still can’t miss it, which induced many house owners to integrate this unique pattern in their homes.

Not sure what is a herringbone floor pattern? Read on, and you’ll know everything you need!

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The Short Answer

The herringbone pattern is basically a geometrical arrangement of rectangles commonly used in parquetry, road pavement, and floor tilings. It’s called the herringbone floor due to its striking resemblance to the fish bones, particularly a herring.

At this point, you might be wondering why there’s such an infatuation with this regular, almost mundane pattern. The answer is geometrical symmetry.

Finding symmetry, especially in objects you see or the floor you walk on every day, can be eye-pleasing and might even have a pleasant decorative effect on your room scheme, which is why this pattern is more popular, especially in hardwood floor trends and among interior designers.

The Geometry of Herringbone Patterns

Herringbone patterns are usually created by laying rectangles at 45 degrees angles. You might also use parallelograms to develop it, assuming that the edge-length ratio of rectangles or parallelograms is 2:1. You can increase that ratio to 3:1, but not more than that.

Despite that, you can customize ratios as you see fit according to the aesthetic effect you’re going for, but before that, make sure to take a look at its origins first, along with the best materials used to create this pattern to make up your mind.


The herringbone pattern might look modernish in design, but it was utilized for thousands of years. For instance, the Roman Empire’s roadways were mostly designed with this pattern to indicate which way traffic flows. Also, the Ancient Egyptians incorporated herringbone patterns into their jewelry design.

It was later in the 16th century that the herringbone pattern finally made it into wooden flooring, but by the second half of the eighteenth century, it became even more trendy in interior designs even until this day.

You can see examples of herringbone-patterned floors in museums and cathedrals, such as the Francois 1 Gallery at the Château de Fontainebleau and the Dome of Florence Cathedral.

Although this design’s popularity never really ebbed away, the herringbone pattern became a popular choice for most people installing hardwood floors nowadays, especially for those adopting contemporary or traditional schemes for their house décor.

Types of Herringbone Floor Patterns

Herringbone pattern interpretations have evolved since the 16th, and 17th centuries, so the original design was tweaked to fit modern schemes. Take a look at the following variations of herringbone patterns.

Single Herringbone

This design’s the most basic variation you’ll find. One unit of the single herringbone pattern is made of two rectangles or parallelograms angled at 45 degrees and pointing in a single direction.

This variation is typically used in wide areas with many visible floors, but if you’re using this pattern for hallways, you might want the herringbone pattern to point inwards and not the opposite direction.

Double Herringbone

As the name suggests, the double herringbone utilizes two pairs of rectangles (or parallelograms). It might look similar to the single herringbone pattern, but it can be more appealing in traditional or modern settings. Plus, the panels could be slightly harder to install.

Diagonal Herringbone

Diagonal herringbone patterns can be slightly more funky and attractive when it comes to the appeal. The diagonal arrangement can be a bit tricky if you’re installing the tiles on your own, but once it’s done, you’ll have set up a traditional scheme in the room.

Materials Used

Since each hardwood material and color creates a unique effect, understanding your options will pay well. Here are the most common, quality hardwoods that have worked best for homeowners.

  • White Oak
  • Red Oak
  • Sapele
  • Maple
  • Walnut
  • Hickory

These materials are known for their durability, so they’ll maintain your wood floor in excellent condition even through decades of heavy use.

Once the material is out of the way, you can choose the best color or pattern that’ll work best for your room. That’ll largely depend on the room’s size, color scheme, and type of aesthetic you’re trying to achieve.

For example, you can personalize your own herringbone-patterned floor with two different materials/colors, adding a personalized twist to the room’s aesthetic while maintaining the traditional appeal of hardwood floors.

Installation Tips

There are a couple of things to consider before installing a herringbone-style hardwood floor in your house, like choosing the right material. You should choose high-quality, prefinished hardwood material that’s easy to install and requires little to no maintenance work.

If you’re going to DIY your room, you might want to gather all of your tools and supplies beforehand so you won’t run into trouble while working. Finally, make sure that your subfloor is completely leveled and in great condition before you get started, as an uneven floor might force you to start over.

Bottom Line

Now that you know all about the herringbone floor pattern, you can decide which pattern variation will work for your house and which material to work with. Some people like to DIY their herringbone-patterned hardwood floor.

If you’re one of those people, be sure to stick to the instructions so that nothing goes wrong during the installation process.