Help -which direction should I run wood floors in open kitchen/FR

eastcoastmomMarch 30, 2009

I cross-posted this in the flooring forum, but thought I'd try here, too. Any advice would be appreciated! We are doing a kitchen family room addition. There are no floor joists underneath (it's on a slab) so that's not relevant for purposes of our decision. Existing wood floors in the foyer, hallway, LR and DR. Open doorways to the new space will be a five foot opening at the foyer/hallway space, and the wood planks in the foyer/hallway runs left to right as you are facing the kitchen. Same thing with the dining room - wood floors there are oriented parallel to the new addition.

A long island will be running perpendicular to the direction of the current floors. Family room with fireplace focal point runs in a direction parallel to current floors. I'm going to try to stain all floors the same color, however there will have to be thresholds due to the floor heights and our builder feels that we ought to go perpendicular to the orientation of current floors, to "define the space" and alert people to the threshold rather than continue in the same direction.

That would look fine in the kitchen (I like the look of a floor parallel to an island) but in the family room part the boards would be parallel to the floor to ceiling fireplace, which is the focal point of the room.

Are the thresholds an issue in this situation in terms of which way to run the floors? Does the island or fireplace issue enter into the decision?

Which way would you run the floors under these circumstances? THANKS.

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I'd run them perpendicular to the focal points in the room. That's how the floors are in my old house, and I think it gives more visual interest.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 11:28PM
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I'm not sure I followed your layout description very well, but my advice would be to run them all the same direction. How much of a step is your threshold?

Is your entire house on a slab? We are finalizing our flooring choices and our house is primarily on crawl space but I need to match the wood floors for on a slab. I'm curious what product you will be using.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:21AM
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Thanks. I know that was a little confusing. I'd post a photo of the layout but the photos are on a computer that is inaccessible right now. Anyway, it sounds like you are both recommending laying the floors in the same direction as existing ones(was my instinct, too) despite the thresholds - the opposite of what the builder wants to do.

My Q about the island was really whether or not it's preferable to have wood planks go parallel to the island. The fireplace is opposite the kitchen (hood and fireplace face each other at end of a "great room". and the island is between the two. Wood can either be parallel to the island or to the length of the room leading to fireplace, but not both. Doing the latter also runs the floors the same way as existing. Hope that clarifies somewhat!

The thresholds are to adjust for a 3/4" or so difference in floor height.

busybme, Good question as to what material we are using. Existing floors are prefinished hardwood, but addition needs to be an engineered product, since it's on a slab. Complicating things are that my existing floors(Mirage) are an unusual width and set of lengths and I really want to match the look. The existing floors also have a microbevel, something i'm not sure I want in a kitchen. I hear it's hard to match old prefinished to new, since the colors will be off after a few years. The answer seems to be to put in site finished engineered floors and stain both floors to match.

Still not sure what to do about matching the planks for size and bevel, though.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:58AM
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We recently uncovered our old pine floors under several layers of vinyl. The LR floor is perpendicular to the kitchen floor-- it changes direction at the threshhold.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 7:00AM
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In our old house we had an approximate 1/2" to 3/4" difference in floor height when we remodeled a bathroom. The contractor used a custom made saddle(that's what he called it) to bridge the difference between the wood floor and the tile floor. It looked like a small ramp to me. You might want to get some details about how the gap could be bridged in your house for perpendicular and parallel installation. It almost sounds as if your builder is saying that he can't do a smooth transition and that doesn't sound right to me. But I'm not a flooring expert. All else being equal I would run the new wood floor perpendicular to the the fireplace focal point so your eye is drawn in that direction. We have the same situation in our new house and we have the great room flooring running perpendicular to the island for that reason. Probably if you looked at the finished kitchen gallery you will see examples of some floors running parallel to the island and some running perpendicular to get an idea of how your island and floor will look. IMHO I think the focal point is a more important consideration than the island. HTH.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 7:11AM
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danielle00 - Thanks for posting, that was helpful to see. In a way I can see what the builder means - a large threshold with planks going in the same direction might be a reason to trip, since if you are looking straight ahead you might not expect the floor height to change. We've been all over the issue with both him and the flooring guy and there are unfortunately some good reasons why we won't be able to match up the floors height-wise. I just hope the threshold doesn't look awful if we run the wood floors in the same direction.

What he may be saying, too, is that it's going to look weird if we can't get the two floors to match perfectly and that you're better off in that case not trying to look like that's what you are trying to do. Not sure I think the tradeoff is worth it, though.

flseadog - Thanks - I took your advice and checked the gallery. I think I agree with you that the fireplace is a more important consideration than the island in this case, all else being equal.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 10:36AM
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Here's what we have and are doing with the remodel in our kitchen: We had a fairly open concept LR, DR, and kitchen. The only separation was a half wall between the kitchen/DR and the LR. When previous owner built, they put hardwood throughout the areas with LR floors perpendicular to the fireplace (east/west) and then on the other side of the half wall running north/south (kitchen on north end and dining on south end). Where the two floors met (walkway at end of half wall), there was a 2" "border" on an angle---that's kinda hard to visualize I know. NOW we've taken down the half wall, so everything is wide open. There will be a three sided island that is sort of "dividing" the three rooms.... We are refinishing the LR which is 2 1/4" oak (will give it a slight tint toward reddish to take the yellow out), and in the Kitchen/DR, DH has chosen hickory. We will stain that very slightly to tone down the wild variation in colors that happen with hickory, but still keep it fairly light to contrast with maple cabinets stained med. cherry with very light coffee glaze. We are also changing all the trim work to white so there isn't ANOTHER color stained wood going on...I know this sounds unusual, but I think we will like it.. My point is that if you can't redo everything and/or come up with an exact match, then do a contrast...In your situation, not only having perpendicular flooring, but maybe a slightly different stain, especially if there is variation in floor heights. Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:10PM
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Forgot to add that the hickory boards will be 3, 4,and 5 inches wide and mixed (?) also there will be a 4" border separating the two rooms, likely made of hickory..Not sure about that yet.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:13PM
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Circus Peanut

Not sure if this helps, but I have the original fir floors in my old bungalow that run the same direction along the entire first floor, and at a few doors the threshhold has to run parallel to the floorboards. It has honestly not been any issue in terms of stumbling, etc, and I think the visuals work just fine (albeit the entire floor has lots of irregularities and patches from its 100-year lifespan):

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 1:13PM
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luvnlife - You gave me an idea with your description of the border on the angle. ... wonder if I can possibly do that. And if I find a floor that blends well with the current floors AND my cabinets I would consider a slightly different stain, mostly because I really like the way the existing floors look. Unfortunately, though, they won't match in the kitchen.

circuspeanut - Thanks very much for posting - that does help me to visualize! Now I just have to decide which way to go ( only 1000 more decisions left after that!).

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 12:35AM
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