Flooring materials have seen massive growth in terms of revolutionary new types, looks, colours, patterns and textures. In this feature we bring contractors, specifiers, renovators, builders and decorators a few ideas on what is trending this year in laminate, bamboo and hardwood flooring.


Laminate is “the great pretender” as it is deceptively like real wood but far more cost-effective and easier to maintain. It is also durable with its multi-layer design and is a hot favourite with those designing busy residential and commercial spaces who still want the rich look of real wood.

So, what are the trends we’re referring to?


Laminate can resemble a number of materials including tile, marble, stone and wood. However, 2021 has proven that more homeowners prefer the wood-look over anything else. Unlike laminate in the past, modern technology has designed this laminate style to have an authentic wood appearance that, depending on the technique used, can even feel like real wood.

There are three types of finish for wood-like laminate:

  1. High gloss (or piano finish), which is a modern take. It has a sleeker finish than most other laminate styles, resembling the appearance of polished woods, marble or ceramic-style flooring. This means high gloss doesn’t have a grain texture, but it might be slippery if wet, so clean up moisture and drips from wet shoes pronto!
  2. Hand-scraped. This style is specifically designed to resemble the natural appearance of antique hardwood.
  3. Embossed. This is a textured laminate and has a realistic, grooved wood appearance. Typical embossed laminate, when installed, does not precisely match the image of the printed grain shown in stores or online. In contrast, embossed-in-register, a second type of embossed laminate, matches the printed grain and the plank grain exactly.

Reclaimed wood appearance
For a long time, a high gloss finish was the king of the wood-look style, but it has the tendency to appear artificial. It is obvious to the viewer that the floor is laminate and no one walking into the room would be convinced they are stepping on wood.

These days, homeowners are moving in a new direction. The trend is to have an embossed OR reclaimed or hand-scraped wood-look design as these styles more accurately resemble real wood.

A reclaimed wood appearance means that the laminate design mimics the randomised scrapes, knots and burns of authentic reclaimed wood. Embossed laminate even possesses a tangible texture to enhance its credibility.


At one point, softer and lighter tones for wood-look laminate were seen as outdated, even cheap. But not anymore!

Light tones have dominated the market since 2019, providing homes with a warmer, brighter atmosphere. Even more pleasing is the newer whitewashed laminate option, popular for coastal homes and beach resorts.

Here’s a list of light tone colours currently trending:
Whitewashed: This trend includes sandcastle oak and white oak. Whitewashed is brighter than any of the listed colours below, yet some variations of whitewashed can show signs of “wear” that allow darker colours to poke out from underneath. A room with whitewashed colours seems larger and more relaxed.
• Grey: This trend includes the colour river rock, which is on the lighter side of grey. Grey has been trending for at least five years and will likely stay that way through the next decade. An interesting difference between grey and the rest of the colours on this list is that it gives off a cooler atmosphere. While darker colours feel colder, grey is balanced between light and dark tones, taking on the best qualities of both worlds.
• Blondes: These colours help make a room feel larger and more open, especially when using wider laminate planks. Contrary to a basic white floor, blondes have colour variation that brings out the texture. Homeowners can apply just about any style to their rooms with blonde laminate – chic, contemporary or rustic, among other possibilities.
• Honey: It provides the same benefits as blond laminate: the room will seem larger and more open. Honey has a unique quality of popping out more than whiter colours, as it is the perfectly balanced blend of light and dark tones.
• High variation: A product of newer technologies, wood-look laminate can now have varying shades in its flooring. The idea is to make the flooring more natural and truer to the character of wood as two pieces of real wood can look different in appearance and shade.

Lighter wood is also a 2021 Hardwood Flooring Trend!


Thin planks were commonly used in the recent past, but homeowners are now preferring wider planks for their flooring, say 5.5” and wider. Each plank not only takes up more floor space – making the installation much faster and easier on DIY homeowners and/or professionals – it also makes the room seem larger and more open than it is. Wider planks are also known for providing modern ambience to a room.

Something to keep in mind: While planks wider than 5.5” are the dominant 2021 trend, thinner planks are experiencing a small resurgence. Part of this wide-plank trend is having mixed-width flooring – that is, using a combination of thin and wide planks for the floor. The thought is that mixed widths will give a room a unique modern flavour, further differentiating it from older styles.


Flooring patterns have come a long way from the parquet patterns routinely used in the 1970s.
Laminate Trends Patterns
There are three laminate patterns trending at this time:
• Diagonal
• Chevron
• Herringbone

What makes them different? Well, a chevron pattern takes more labour to perfectly align the laminate and a diagonal pattern naturally costs more in both labour and materials but has a bespoke look.

Herringbone flooring consists of equally sized laminate planks for the entire layout, while a diagonal layout specifically requires mixed sizes.

Keep in mind that a longer herringbone pattern may not be the best option for larger rooms, but it provides a stunning aesthetic for entryways, hallways and bathrooms – instantly modernising the space.

Pro tip: Herringbone and chevron can be easily mixed up since they have similar layouts. Note that herringbone patterns crosshatch laminate flooring while chevron aligns the flooring at 90-degree angles to form V’s or W’s. The “herringbone” pattern actually got its name because it resembles the crosshatching-like skeleton of a herring.


It’s no wonder that waterproof laminate flooring is a hot commodity in 2021. Waterproof laminate is exactly what it sounds like: It is designed to prevent liquid and moisture from staining or causing the laminate to swell and buckle. It is not “waterproof” to the same degree as sheet vinyl or tile, but it is certainly an upgrade from traditional laminate.

Like traditional laminate, waterproof laminate consists of four layers. In contrast, these four layers are constructed to have a waterproof component:

  1. Water-resistant film overlay: Protects the plank’s design layer – the layer everyone sees – from liquid and moisture damage as well as normal wear and tear.
  2. Design layer: Provides a realistic wood appearance and texture.
  3. Water-resistant HDF core board: Made of compressed high-density fibreboard (HDF) which adds strength and water protection to the plank. HDF makes the plank less susceptible to swelling from water.
  4. Balancing layer: A water-resistant underlayer that increases plank stability while preventing liquid and moisture from soaking into the plank from underneath.

• It has watertight seams that prevent liquids or moisture from seeping through.
• It’s fade-resistant and it won’t expand when exposed to direct sunlight.
• It can have a more realistic wood appearance than traditional laminate. It can even seem more textured.
• It’s typically dent-resistant.
• It’s up to eight times more scratch resistant.

Pro tip: If you are looking to buy waterproof laminate, keep in mind that some companies use the description “waterproof” when their products are merely water-resistant.

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