Hardwood Floors – Patterns, Borders and Decorative Inlays

May 18, 2022

Hardwood floors are the epitome of effortless style. Not only do they add character to the look of your home, but they are also thermally efficient and durable. They look great on their own, but with some personalized touches, a basic hardwood floor installation can be elevated to a custom design element that adds value to your home. 

Choosing a Hardwood Floor Pattern 

No matter what type of hardwood you’ve selected, there are many options for flooring patterns to get the look you want. There are infinite possibilities in hardwood flooring designs, from repeating patterns to random layouts to custom inlays. So, you’re sure to find the right pattern to suit your personal design style—from mid-century modern to transitional—as hardwood is the chameleon of home flooring.  

Horizontal Strip Patterns 

The classic, timeless pattern most often associated with hardwood flooring installation is achieved by aligning the planks in the opposite direction of the floor joists, set in a staggered pattern. This “basic” installation design requires the least labor and yields less wasted material (so it’s the most cost-effective). What’s more, because the planks are laid in a continuous, straight pattern, it creates a seamless effect of visual harmony throughout the space. 

horizontal hardwood plank flooring

While horizontal hardwood planks are traditionally installed parallel to the walls, they can also be installed on a diagonal for a unique look or to add dimension or drama to a space. Essentially, this installation is similar to horizontal strip patterns but is installed on a bias. This installation requires more labor, and with extra cuts required, there is also more product waste. 

Mix-Match Plank Width Patterns 

If you like horizontal strip patterns but want something a bit more unique, consider mixing/matching different size wood planks. This twist on the traditional horizontal pattern creates a custom look with the same advantages: the mix-match design creates a linear pattern for an open, larger-looking space and a free-flowing aesthetic. Plus, the installation takes less time and yields less waste than patterns that require multiple cuts. 

Six Classic Hardwood Flooring Patterns That Have Stood the Test of Time



The herringbone hardwood flooring pattern is a classic look that has stood the test of time. Typically, herringbone designs look best with the points running in tandem with the room’s longest wall or directed at a focal point such as a window, fireplace, or island. However, because this specialty pattern requires finding the center/focal point with exact measurements to ensure a continuous straight line of the herringbone, this pattern can be a challenging install for flooring DIYers. 


The classic European chevron design is visually striking and adds a luxe, designer vibe to any space. Like herringbone, chevron features alternating diagonal rows but an inverted V-shaped pattern that mimics a long row of straight arrows. Popular in tile and hardwood installations, the chevron pattern requires experience to install confidently, as the precise cuts and alignment required can be tricky. For those reasons, the chevron installation is best left to experienced hardwood flooring professionals to get a flawless look. 

chevron hardwood flooring

Checkerboard / Basketweave 

The checkerboard or basketweave hardwood floor is a classic parquet pattern. The repeating board pattern marries pristine geometry with the wood’s organic texture for a stunning and unique design statement. Unfortunately, the pattern is deceptively challenging to install. While the cuts are straight, and board waste is minimal, the lines can be unforgiving. Checkerboard or basketweave hardwood installations require precision all around to ensure that lines stay perfectly straight throughout. 

checkerboard wood flooring

Image source: Shaw Floors


Custom Parquet 

If you are willing to invest in one-of-a-kind, show-stopping floors for your home, look no further than custom parquet floor patterns. The artistic effect of these patterns can be breathtaking, elevating an entire living-space or creating a unique focal point in a room. These custom hardwood flooring patterns require serious craftsmanship to develop and install. Here are some examples of custom parquet floor patterns: 

parquet floor    

Borders and Inlays 

Hardwood floors can run edge-to-edge in a room or include a decorative border around the perimeter. The design options are endless: Choose from a simple run of boards in a contrasting pattern, color, or finish or an intricately patterned inlay. Borders can be used to add visual interest, define or highlight a living space, and they can make your hardwood floors feel more polished and your space more pulled together. Here’s a link to Pinterest showing wood floor borders and inlays – from simple and classic to very ornate and intricate.   

Medallions and Personalized Inlays 

For the ultimate in personalization, consider designing a medallion as a feature of a large open area of flooring, such as an entryway or landing area. These decorative elements are very challenging to install and require the skill of a professional hardwood flooring installer.   

wood floor with inlaid medallion

Know Before You Go 

There are different types of hardwood flooring: Engineered hardwood, prefinished hardwood and unfinished hardwood. Engineered hardwood is comprised of a plywood base or a wood fiber core, overlaid with a real hardwood veneer – it’s more forgiving in terms of humidity, wet or damp conditions and everyday wear and tear. Prefinished hardwood is regular hardwood planks that have already been finished. Finally, unfinished hardwood planks required sanding and finishing (or staining) in the home.   

To be sure you get the correct hardwood flooring product for your exact application, be sure to consult with your flooring professional. At Dover, we cover it all: The Dover Floor & Tile Center carries a full selection of engineered and prefinished hardwood flooring. And our experts at Dover Home Remodelers install unfinished hardwood flooring onsite. 

Want more inspiration? Talk to the hardwood flooring experts at the Dover Floor & Tile Center or visit our showroom. 

Whether you’re thinking about a traditional installation or a custom, decorative hardwood floor pattern, we’ve got you covered: Meet with the Dover Floor & Tile designers and installers to create just the right look and feel for your home.  

Tschaun Procaccini