Specialty Design Elements for Wood Flooring

Specialty Design Elements

With advances in the industry over the past few decades, customizing your wood floor is easier, and more affordable, than ever before. You can create a one-of-a-kind look with simple upgrades such as borders, medallions, hand-distressing, painted floors, mixed media and exotic wood species.


Borders create a frame effect in a particular room or area, and usually contrast to the main area of the room. For example, a simple installation of a medium colored wood such as strip white oak might include a border outlining the room in a contrasting darker species of wood such as Brazilian cherry. The possibilities are endless, and are not limited to wood only. Borders can incorporate multiple wood species, stone, marble, brass, stainless steel, nickel and other metals.


Medallions usually are installed in the main field of the floor, typically in areas such as foyers. Medallions can incorporate multiple wood species, and other mixed media, such as stone, metal and leather. Factory finished medallions can be routed into existing floors with minimal disruption. For more customized looks, such as a family crest, a professional wood flooring installer can work with you to select the species and colors that will best meet your needs.


Hand-distressing wood floors offers a unique look and antiqued appearance that appeals to many homeowners. Hand-scraping, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming, is the most-common distressing technique. Using tools such as chisels, planes, wire brushes, awls, ice picks and grinders, the installer will work with the wood to achieve a worn and distressed look. The end result will be a new floor that looks beautifully antiqued.

Painted Floors

A little paint can transform an ordinary wood floor into something unique. For example, a painted border can transform your floor into a work of art reflecting your personal style – country, formal, or even patterns like free-flowing vines. For more dramatic painted design elements, consider creating an Oriental rug effect, or even marble. Your only limit is your imagination.

Mixed Media

You can create a one-of-a-kind floor by mixing wood with other materials such as stone, tile, slate, marble, metal, and even leather. For example, highlighting a marble foyer with wood makes a dramatic entryway, while incorporating brushed nickel accents into your kitchen wood floor could accent your professional series appliances.

Exotic Wood

Exotic woods are available in a variety of colors and can add an entirely new look to any room. Want something with a pinkish-red hue to enhance your décor? Consider Bubinga from Africa. Is rustic more your style? Take a look at Australian Cypress, which is harder than domestic knotty pine. Is purple your passion? Purpleheart from Mexico will age to a deep purple or purplish brown. Want something sleek and dark? Wenge from Africa, will age to a very deep brown, almost black, color. With exotic wood species, the possibilities are endless.


Existing wood floors can receive an entirely new look, affordably, with custom stains. Looking for a contemporary style? Light colored stains can give new life to an old wood floor. Want something more traditional? Consider restaining your wood floors to a warm, medium-toned color. Thinking about a more formal décor? Dark stains can give your floors a stately new look. No matter what your existing wood floor, chances are that you can achieve an entirely new look with custom stains.

Reprinted from NWFA