What are Hardwood Floor Inlays?

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  • Written By: S. Mithra
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2018
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Hardwood floor inlays add texture, pattern, and definition by creating a design with contrasting wood. Since ancient times, woodworkers have carved out planks in one pattern and precisely fitted another species of wood at the same level to produce a smooth surface, called inlay. Decorators use hardwood floor inlays in any room of the house to set off clusters of furniture, separate living spaces, or dramatize a central feature.

A plain floor can be made unique and valuable by adding hardwood floor inlays. Any picture you can draw can be adapted to your pattern and realized. Manufacturers use a computer and laser cutting device to create the pattern. These inlaid designs can take the form of a border around the perimeter of a room, a flourish in a walkway, or a central medallion as a focal point. A fireplace can be outlined to extend the shape of the hearth with a wrap of leaves or flowers. An inlaid scene resembling a bucolic pasture or abstract motif could act as a mat on a staircase landing or in front of an entryway.


Creating hardwood floor inlays is possible while installing a new floor or when refinishing an established one. A designer can evaluate your overall vision for the room. They translate it into your own customized pattern or suggest traditional ornamentation. Borders are frequently woven with a crisscrossed line or scrolled with twisting vines or ribbons. A wide border could visually separate one space, such as a sitting area, from another with a different function, say a dining room. Medallions may resemble abstract circles in the form of compasses, sundials, sunbursts, or mandalas. Some people use animals, such as a lion for strength or bee for industry, or their family's monogram or coat of arms.

Many woods with different grains and colors can be used in hardwood floor inlays to create the desired effect. Most hardwood floors are made of oak, which can be stained a variety of shades from honey to natural to walnut. Common woods used in the inlay are lighter hardwoods like ash and maple. Some people use softwoods to evoke a rustic cabin feel, such as knotty pine, birch or fir. Exotic woods, while more expensive, offer true variety in color and texture. These include teak, plum, cherry, mahogany, and bamboo. Professionals will choose an appropriate wood that complements your design.


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