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How Does Lighting Affect Flooring? What to Know Before You Buy

When you pick flooring – such as tile, hardwood or vinyl – you’re choosing as much for the color as you are for the quality and style.

But what you might not have considered is how different that floor color might look once it’s installed in your home. Why? Because the lighting of your room has a profound impact on the way colors are perceived.

Much the same way a can of paint applied to two different rooms (one that receives limited natural light and another that's flooded with sunshine) will look different, your flooring will have a different appearance depending on the lighting in your home.

And because natural light changes in intensity, the time of day will also have an impact on the way your flooring looks.

For example, a room that faces east will be washed with strong sunlight in the early morning, and will look very different when seen late at night in artificial lighting. A west-facing room might look dull and shadowy in the morning, but be bathed in a warm glow at dusk.

Next time you’re at home, take note of the way your interior rooms look throughout the day. In the morning, sunlight is warmer because it's lower on the horizon, so you might notice your rooms take on a natural yellow cast.

As the day progresses, sunlight develops a cool, blue tone. And as the afternoon wears on towards sunset, interior rooms will take on more of a reddish glow.

The Effects Of Artificial Lighting

Sunshine isn’t the only light that has an impact on the look of your flooring. Artificial light can have just as dramatic an impact. The type of lighting in your room plays a large role in how your flooring looks.

Incandescent and soft white fluorescent bulbs intensify warm colors but tend to fade cooler colors, while halogen and full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs most closely mimic the bright light of natural sunlight.

Bright colors look best in bright white, fluorescent or halogen bulbs. Darker colors and rich textures tend to look best under accent lights and duller bulbs. So, if your heart is set on dark hardwood floors, for example, you might consider amber colored accent lights or light-pink bulbs for a warmer, cozier look.

The type of light fixture in the room will also affect the look of your flooring. Indirect lighting, such as sconces, aims light toward ceilings or walls. Lampshades can change the look of flooring, too, depending on the color of the shade and the strength of the bulb inside.

Keep in mind that hardwood flooring will undergo color changes with exposure to both artificial and natural light. Some color change may be dramatic—exotic species are especially prone to color change.

For example, with exposure to light, Tiger Wood becomes deeper and darker red over time. The best way to combat this is to occasionally move area rugs and furniture that block light to avoid any discoloration underneath.

Before you decide on the perfect color of hardwood, tile or vinyl flooring, do your lighting homework.

Review the inspiration section for ideas, and add images you like to your myProSource Project Center. Then take samples home and view them in natural and artificial light at various times throughout the day. Contact your local ProSource Showroom to find out how you can check out free samples of all the latest flooring styles today.

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