How to blend old and new hardwood floors

  • Blending old and new hardwood floors

If you have solid timber flooring in your home, you already know the feeling of warmth and luxury that comes from having real wood underfoot. However, when it comes to renovating or extending, people sometimes hesitate to put new wooden floors adjacent to the old hardwood floors due to the fear that they won’t match. This article looks at how blending old and new hardwood floors works and how it can look great in your home.

Matching old and new timber floors

When finding the perfect match for your new timber floors, it’s handy to have insider knowledge of the existing floor. The height, type, species, grade, width, colour, and direction of wood will impact your ability to blend your new and old floors.

Knowing the species and grade of the wood used in your floor can help you match the timber. However, be aware that wood stains, coatings, and wear might have changed the colour of your floor over time. Some wood species are easy to blend due to the variation in their natural colouring, and others are more difficult to match due to their uniform tone. The more variation in colour you can see on your existing floor, the easier it will be to add more flooring seamlessly.

In addition to knowing the timber species, you also have to know the height of the flooring and subfloor. Make sure you buy timber planks that will end up the same height as your existing floor after installation and coating. If it’s impossible to match the height, a hardwood saddle or reducer can be used at the transition to reduce the trip hazard.

Uneven timber flooring transition

Plank width is another important consideration. If you are looking for a match, measure the width of your floorboards and ensure your new planks are the same width. If it is an older floor, measure a few planks to get the average, as the planks may have warped and expanded over time.

measuring timber floor planks

The old floor probably has some wear and tear from years (even decades) of weather and foot traffic. Sanding your old floor back and finishing it in conjunction with your new floor finish will drastically increase the likelihood that your old and new floors will blend seamlessly.

However, even after sanding and refinishing some species of wood will be a different colour or shade from when they were new. Maple, for example, starts light golden brown and, over time, becomes more of a beige brown. This means that it is more challenging to match the new and old timber.
Depending on your space and preferences, the transition from old floor to new floor can be done in a weave design. This is recommended for floors within the same room as it avoids a transition line which might emphasise the difference in the old and new timber.

weaving old and new flooring

If you cannot refinish your old flooring, experiment with stains and lacquers on your new timber to get the best match of tones and shades. When applying the coating to the new floor, always start out with a slightly lighter coloured stain; this way, you can build up to the shade you desire.

In some cases, mixing and matching the timber planks from your old floor and new planks is possible. This will require dismantling your old floor therefore, we recommend getting a professional floorer in to access if this is feasible for your home. Relaying your old floor and your new planks mixed together creates the illusion that it is variations in the timber causing the colour and pattern change. Blending in this way will only work if the plank widths are the same and you sand and refinish the old and new floor together. This option can add to the cost of your project, but the results are stunning.

While matching your old and new timber floors exactly might be a challenge, people are often surprised at how good similar (not an exact match) flooring looks. One of the greatest appeals of solid timber flooring is the natural variations in colour and the delightful patterns created by the woodgrain. It’s important to keep sight of this when matching your floors.

Non-matching old and new hardwood floors

Timber floors don’t have to match to look fabulous. In some cases, a contrast of colour, pattern, or width can create a beautiful aesthetic and a division of spaces within the home. Add hardwood borders between the old and new flooring areas for a smoother transition.

old and new wooden flooring - colour change

Changing the direction of the planks in your new flooring is a clever way to distract the eye from wood that is not an exact match. Another good idea is using an area of parquetry as a feature, which makes the difference in the flooring look intentional.

old and new wooden flooring - direction change

If you have any questions about your existing timber floor or how to blend them with new flooring, our helpful staff can be contacted here, or by phone on (02) 8041 0166. Alternatively, feel free to pop into one of the Back to Timber showrooms so we can help answer any questions you may have.

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