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How Lighting Affects Your Flooring

Posted on the 6/22/2020 by Karndean Designflooring

Lighting plays a huge role in how your flooring and other furnishings will look in your home. Just like color or paint, lighting impacts the overall feeling and mood of the space. Improper lighting can cause glare, eye strain and even headaches.

In both home renovations and new construction, lighting and flooring are typically two elements that are thought of last; but your space will only look its best when it has a good “foundation” to build upon (i.e. the floor and lighting). It’s best to consult a design professional to ensure your choices best suit the function and activities of a space.

There are many layers of lighting throughout a home, from natural lighting through windows to ceiling lights; task lighting (pendants over island or sink, under-cabinet lighting) and accent lighting (from table or floor lamps). The differences in color temperature (warm to cool) from each can dramatically impact interior finishes, like flooring. Color temperature is measured by the Kelvin scale, shown below.

  • Cool lighting is often used in hospitals to mimic bright daylight; good for energetic spaces
  • Warm lighting, like incandescent, makes a space feel homey and comfortable
  • When LED first launched, it was all very cool lighting, now they have gotten it to the point of mimicking incandescent lighting, so that you can have energy efficient lighting in a selection of temperature choices

When you come across a product that you love in a retail environment, it may look completely different in your home. Why is this? Retail stores or showrooms typically display products under cool and bright fluorescent lighting, while typical homes have warm, incandescent lighting – causing the item to appear darker in color than originally thought.

This is one of the reasons we always recommend asking your Karndean retailer to provide you with a full-size sample to take home. It is best to select a few color options to take home with you and view throughout the day, using natural sunlight from your windows, to your overhead lighting in the evening, before making a commitment.

What can you do if your flooring has been installed already? A quick and inexpensive fix is to experiment with different types of light bulbs to find a more flattering color temperature. Although the Kelvin scale provides categories of color temperatures, there is a standard deviation range, so the color temperatures of one light bulb brand could differ from another. For example, what is 3000k from one brand may look different to 3000k from another brand. But here are some general rules of thumb:

  • If you prefer dark flooring, you will want to make sure your space is properly lighted using a warmer color temperature to accent the flooring, so the overall room is not dark and unwelcoming
  • Light-toned floors look best under a cooler color temperature
  • You may need to sample different bulb brands and color temperatures to find out what best suits the colors in the space

As you can see, lighting has a great impact on the look and feel of your flooring and your home. By making a simple switch of a bulb, you can set the ideal atmosphere in your space.