Should Flooring Go Vertical or Horizontal?

Should Flooring Go Vertical or Horizontal?

When it comes to installing new flooring, one of the key aesthetic decisions is whether to lay the flooring planks vertically or horizontally. This choice can significantly impact the visual perception of a room's size and shape, influencing the overall ambiance and feel of the space. In this blog, we'll delve into the considerations of laying flooring vertically versus horizontally, helping you make an informed decision that complements the design and functionality of your home.

Understanding the Visual Impacts of Flooring Orientation

The direction in which you lay flooring planks can alter the perception of a room’s dimensions. This optical illusion can be used to your advantage, depending on the room's layout and your desired visual effect.

Horizontal Flooring Installation

Horizontal flooring, where planks are laid parallel to the longest walls, is the most common installation method. This orientation tends to make a room appear wider and is generally preferred for its traditional aesthetic. It can make small rooms feel broader and more open.

Benefits of Horizontal Flooring:

  • Enhances the feeling of space in smaller or narrower rooms.
  • Aligns with natural entry points, offering a welcoming feel.
  • Often easier to install, especially for DIY projects.

Vertical Flooring Installation

Vertical flooring, where planks are laid perpendicular to the longest wall, can make a room appear longer. This method is ideal for narrow rooms where the goal is to create a perception of depth. It can also be a stylistic choice in modern homes where unique visual lines are desired.

Benefits of Vertical Flooring:

  • Makes narrow rooms seem longer and more spacious.
  • Can draw the eye towards a focal point at the far end of the room.
  • Offers a unique aesthetic that can differentiate a home’s design.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Flooring Direction

Choosing the right direction for your flooring involves more than just aesthetic considerations. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Room Shape and Size

The shape and size of the room are crucial in deciding the direction of the flooring. As mentioned, horizontal planks can make a room feel wider, which is ideal for narrow spaces, while vertical planks can make a room seem longer.

Light Sources

The direction of natural light can influence the flooring choice. Planks that run parallel to the light source can create a smooth look as the light falls more uniformly across the floor.

Architectural Features

Consider the layout and the architectural features of the room, such as doors, fireplaces, and windows. Aligning flooring with these elements can create a harmonious look.

Subfloor Direction

The direction of the subflooring joists can also dictate the best direction for laying the flooring, especially for wood and laminate products that require nailing or have specific structural requirements.

Mixing Directions

In some cases, mixing both vertical and horizontal flooring can be effective, especially in homes with open floor plans. Transitioning directions can define different areas within a larger space, such as distinguishing the dining area from the living room.


The decision on whether to lay flooring planks vertically or horizontally depends on a variety of factors, including room dimensions, light sources, and personal aesthetic preferences. Each direction offers unique benefits and can dramatically alter the appearance of a room.

For those ready to explore different flooring options and orientations, consider visiting Smart Floors in Florida or checking out their website. Smart Floors offers a wide range of flooring solutions that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your space, ensuring that your home not only looks great but feels right too.