Rustic Wood Flooring Ideas: 6 Ways to Create That Lived-in Feel

rustic-floors-thumbThere are certain interior design trends that come and go, a lot of fuss is made about them, some people go a bit crazy attempting to remodel their homes to fit the latest must-have look; and then there are other interior design trends that quietly stand their ground, often referred to as designer classics, never quite going out of fashion, but occasionally ever so slightly reinventing themselves to suit the current mood. The people who choose these fail-safe looks are, arguably, the happier ones!

One such design classic is the Rustic look, which extends to rustic wood flooring. Choosing a classic trend like this is both financially sound – renovating a home is a huge investment – as well as being a clever design decision, because it is a relatively easy look to keep up to date. For example this 2014 fall, out of nowhere it would seem, all the interior design gurus are talking about Rustic Industrial. In its most simplistic interpretation this means pairing your reclaimed, rustic wood with cool, metallic accents; in broader strokes it is about combining sleek contemporary furnishings with more rugged, rough-and-ready wood ones.

Rustic is also emotionally appealing because it is all about connecting with the past, recreating a certain nostalgia for more homely and comforting times. Kim Lefever from the Armstrong Flooring Blog agrees:

“today’s homeowners are looking for design ideas that feel authentic and familiar, that are hand-crafted, or that reveal a vintage flair. In flooring terms this means opting for wood floors that have texture, are hand-scraped or distressed, and have “an aged look or time-worn patina”.

Rustic wood flooring is appealing on a practical level too. Floors that are already made to look aged will better accommodate the passage of time and its inherent damage, as explained by designer Jillian Bookout-Bilawchuk from Design Elements:

“after everyone put dark, glossy maple floors in five to ten years ago, they realized how incredibly difficult they were to not only keep clean, but maintain from scratching with daily wear and tear, especially with animals and children. Hand-scraped hardwood shows little dust and dirt and most scratches and dints are hidden or end up looking like they are suppose to be there.”

Excellent news for almost everyone!

So it’s not hard to see why Rustic is such a popular look in hardwood flooring. But it may be a surprise to find out that you don’t necessarily have to track down completely authentic reclaimed solid hardwood from some turn-of the century French farmhouse – well not unless you actually really want to! In fact aside from the many wonderful reclaimed timber yards offering wonderfully aged solid oak and such, there are five other ways to get the Rustic hardwood look that suits your budget and lifestyle. So, here are six rustic wood flooring ideas using different products to achieve that lived-in flooring look you desire.

Rustic Hardwood Floors

hardwood- Victorian Collection Vintage French Oak from Signature Hardwoods

Of course, for many people, the real deal is the best. Solid hardwood flooring that has either been reclaimed from previous installations or that has been finished using stains, color-washes, distressing or hand-scraping techniques will always have the edge on other options because they are authentic. Specialist timber merchants scour the country to find the best quality antique woods and offer bespoke services to track down the exact shade and style of wood you want. These services do come with a price, but you will know that your flooring is completely unique. There are also numerous flooring manufacturers that offer slightly less pricey but equally beautiful newly harvested hardwood flooring that has been aged as described above. To enhance the Rustic look you should always choose wide planks, look for woods with plenty of character marks – distinct grains, wormholes and knots – and consider either washed out, matte tones that make it look more weathered (like the gorgeous Vintage French Oak floor from Signature Hardwoods shown above) or deep golden, warm tones that suggest years of waxing or oiling.

Rustic Engineered Hardwood Flooring

engineered- America Scrape Walnut from Armstrong

Increasingly modern technology is offering us the best of both words, and with engineered hardwood flooring this is especially true – the aesthetic appeal of the old is combined with the practical versatility of modern materials. Engineered hardwood is made of several ply layers bonded together in intense atmospheric conditions which means it is more stable and less affected by changes in moisture levels, unlike solid hardwood that will expand and contract in the heat and cold. The top layer of an engineered hardwood is made of the premium wood, and these days, this top layer can be finished in exactly the same ways as solid hardwoods to give it the desired old world aesthetic. Aside from its versatility, engineered hardwood can also be as much as half the price of solid hardwood, with the top of the range engineered costing around $4-5 per square foot compared to $8-9 for similar solid planks. Because engineered hardwood is as close to the real deal as you can get, it pays to shop around to find planks that are aesthetically authentic too: for the Rustic look choose local species of wood rather than exotic ones, like the richly textured America Scrape Walnut from Armstrong shown above.

Rustic Style Laminate Flooring

laminate- Country Natural Hickory from Pergo

If you love the Rustic trend, but don’t have a budget that stretches to solid or engineered hardwood the best option is to get rustic-style laminate flooring. Today’s printing technology means that the 3D photographic laminate layer can look extremely realistic and match every popular trend perfectly, as confirmed by the team at Floor Trends:

“because of the growing popularity of laminates, manufacturers are creating an increasing array of traditional, rustic, and exotic wood grain designs. In fact, presses have improved to the point where the texture imprinted on top of the design looks more real than ever, even with distressed wood or natural stone designs.”

Because it is quite a lot cheaper than other flooring, laminates are also ideal if you envisage changing your floor several years down the line, or if you don’t want to commit a large amount of investment to home improvement (for example, if you know that this is not your “forever home”). By cleverly matching rustic laminate floor with country style furniture, soft furnishings and décor, you can easily create the textured, cozy, home comfort style that the Rustic look typifies, as shown to great effect in the picture above from Pergo featuring their Country Natural Hickory laminate.

Rustic Luxury Vinyl Wood Look Tile Flooring

lvt- Adura Distinctive Plank Heritage Buckskin from Mannington

An even more high tech alternative to laminate is the increasingly popular luxury vinyl tile flooring, or LVT for short. Unlike previous vinyl incarnations that often look cheap and nasty, LVT is a great example of the amazing developments in today’s technology, with luxury vinyl wood look planks being created to faithfully replicate the contours and grains of real wood. LVT is proving particularly popular for people who do not wish to undertake the cleaning and maintenance responsibilities of authentic hardwood; with LVT all you need is a vacuum cleaner and a damp mop to keep it looking fresh for years! Its increased popularity means that manufacturers are making sure that their ranges meet everyone’s design expectations, as confirmed by Xavier Steyaert CEO of IVC Floors on FloorsTrendsMag:

“the same general trends are happening in LVT as in other hard surfaces. Wider, more rustic woods with character are important… Reclaimed woods in a variety of widths give the space a feeling of authenticity.”

If luxury vinyl tile is something you want to consider, always choose the top range brands that put the most effort into creating realistic Rustic look planks; the Adura Distinctive Plank in Heritage Buckskin from Mannington shown above is a great example of LVT at its best.

Rustic Tile Flooring

ceramic tile- Prescott Herlequin Diamond from Porcelain Wood

Meanwhile if you’re already starting to think of unusual alternatives to real rustic hardwood, then another product to consider is the super-clever wood look ceramic tile. Offering all the aesthetic charm of real hardwood, but with none of the associated disadvantages – such as denting, staining, maintenance costs, shrinkage etc – wood look ceramic tile has become a truly viable alternative. Wood look ceramic tile is an especially interesting idea if you live in a more humid environment that could potentially create havoc to a real wood floor. As with LVT, manufacturers of wood look ceramic tile have been quick to create on-trend ranges and the Rustic aesthetic is widely available, with wider planks, distressed and hand-scraped effects featured in most manufacturers collections. Some wood look ceramic tile makers are, however, going the extra mile and offering very unusual looks that are much easier to achieve in ceramic than the real thing. Of particular note is the W-Age collection from Provenza Ceramiche that features the cross-section of a log and is at once elegant and rugged; and the sublime Prescott collection from Porcelain Wood that features delicately grained wood that has been distressed and whitewashed with geometric patterns (see Prescott Harlequin above).

Plywood Flooring with a Rustic Finish

plywood-Groveland House by A.Gruppo

But if you are truly looking for an “outside the box” idea, and what you love most about the Rustic trend is its unembellished, rough-hewn, simplicity then you might want to seriously look into using plywood to create the perfect Rustic floor. For some the idea of using plywood for anything other than a construction material is utter madness; but for those with creative, design-inspired minds and with the time you need to get the look right, top quality plywood offers a unique aesthetic that fits right into the Rustic trend. Contemporary architects across the globe are suddenly turning to plywood because of this uniqueness, as expressed by Jeremy McLeod of Breathe Architecture, interviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald

“each sheet has its own grain, its own character and quirks. Ply gives visual richness to the project.”

This is further exemplified by the image above from Groveland House designed by A.Gruppo Architects where plywood planks have been beautifully stained to highlight its texture and grain, and then paired with clean, modernist furnishings to create a very comfortable and inviting space that is also full of character and personality.

So, there you have it: six completely different flooring products all offering Rustic looks. No matter which of the six materials best suits your home and project, there are a few key and common things to remember to get the Rustic look right: wide planks are usually best, character details in the grain are essential, textured surfaces are a must – either through hand-scraped or distressed techniques, and then finally once the floor is laid fill your home with lots of things you love to get the comforting homely Rustic feel.

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