If you are looking to remodel your home and want your new floors to match up with existing ones in place, you are not alone. With the growing demand for open concept kitchens, matching up flooring can present a real challenge. I'm currently working with clients who happen to be in this very position. They are gutting their kitchen and want the new kitchen flooring to match their existing brazilian cherry that sits in the family room, front foyer, hallways, etc. Problem is, they've had their hardwoods for over 15 years and like all wood, it has changed color over time... darkened and reddened specifically. So all of the new brazilian cherry samples were a completely different color and no one can promise them both floors will ever be a match. Not what they wanted to hear! Here are a few tips if you find yourself in this position:
Identify - Be sure you know exactly what type of flooring you have in your home before shopping for new ones. This could involve having a flooring professional pay a visit to your house to help you identify it. If you have engineered wood it gets really tricky because you must have a substantial wear layer to sand and refinish if necessary. Laminate flooring... you can forget it unless you have the exact manufacturer / style number and it's still available.
Size - This step is pretty obvious but you want your new floors to be the same width and height as your old floors and have the same type of sub-flooring for continuous height. For example if your current hardwoods have a plywood sub-floor underneath, your new floors will need to have the same base.
Style & Color - Your new floors need to be the same style or wood species as your existing floors as well as the same color... and therein lies the real challenge. All hardwoods are affected by light and age with some turning more golden and others getting redder or darker. You have a few options here:
Install new wood flooring that is a close match
Strip old floors and stain both old and new to match (if you are staining)
Remove old flooring and replace everything at the same time
Select a totally different floor for the new space
I generally prefer to have one type of flooring in an open concept layout because it makes the spaces flow together and feel larger. But in the event you can't get buy new floors to match existing ones and don't want a stain, you could decide to go in a totally different direction and forget trying to match everything. In fact, I recommend doing this when you can't get a close match because it looks like you tried to match but missed the mark. I personally am not a fan of two different wood types side by side. I'd rather see tile or something completely different.
My clients, not happy about their flooring dilemma, made the tough decision to remove the old brazillian cherry flooring and instead put down an engineered white oak everywhere. I have to say I think the new floors will actually work better with the new design direction of their home but it's still frustrating to them because this was not part of the original project budget.
So my friends...take my advice! Know your flooring and what you are getting into up front so you will not be surprised in the end.
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