Hide dirt in plain site by choosing the right flooring

Become a master of illusion with these flooring ideas to help your floors look cleaner than they really are

Who has time to push a Swiffer around every day when there’s softball league, yoga, tee ball, poker night, running in the park, and that new Netflix show you can’t turn away from, all eating away at your time? Our busy professional, social and family obligations often keep us away from our cleaning duties at home, and that leaves dirt to just pile up and stare us down.

When choosing new flooring, many considerations must be made, including price, longevity, repairability and style. But if we’re being honest, a new floor’s ability to hide dust and dirt is going to be near the top of the list. 

You ‘wood’ clean, if you had the time

If you make the classic choice of wood for its durability, warmth, comfort on your feet and easy repairability, a light colored option such as pine or ash, or an even lighter peach-hued maple, will do a great job of hiding dust. Maple’s grain, and color variations in each strip resemble faded marble, and this effect does a wonderful job of hiding dirt. 

High Contrast Wood Flooring
Hardwood and hardwood-inspired flooring with a strong grain pattern helps create the illusion of a clean floor, as dirt particles blend in with the pattern.

That said, going too light with, for example, a white-washed wood flooring will have the opposite effect.

The busier the grain pattern, the more it will enhance the dust-hiding illusion of your new wood floor. This works best with a natural satin or flat finish, as light refraction will accent any dirt or dust on the floor. As a bonus, scratches aren’t as easily visible on these finishes. 

You might be tempted to think dark woods and stains make dirt and dust harder to see, but to the contrary, dark wood floors provide a contrast for debris to show. Dark floors hide the grain, increase visibility of scratches and require more frequent cleaning. 

Wood flooring is an investment, but will pay off in spades in the long run. If you are environmentally conscious, bamboo flooring has spiked in popularity because of its sustainability. As long as you stick to a light finish, it will also do a great job of hiding dirt. 

Cork is another environmentally-conscious choice that does a good job of hiding dust and dirt. It’s available in self-adhering, easy to install tiles, in case you are the do-it-yourself type, but not so much the clean-it-yourself type.

If you need to go with an economy option like laminate, be sure to stick with lighter colors, and away from a glossy finish. Vinyl products with the correct patterns will hide dirt well, but you can’t really escape the sheen with vinyl. When sunlight is pouring through your windows, dust will show. 

Rock-solid camouflage

When it comes to choosing the best tile to hide the appearance of dust and dirt, a whole new set of rules apply. Unlike wood flooring, it is best for a tile floor to be a medium color in order to do a good job of hiding dust particles. 

Busier tile patterns can help make up for your lack of motivation when it comes to cleaning. Ceramic tile with matte finish is an affordable option that works well for keeping dirt out of sight. This finish will also make your tile much less slippery when wet. 

A medium shade of highly-patterned matte tile is the best option for hiding dust, dirt and grime.

Be sure to keep your tile sealed to keep moisture, stains and maintenance to a minimum. Natural stone tile with a matte finish does a glorious job of hiding dirt, as particles get caught in the nooks and crannies, blending in with the tile itself. 

Carpet: a seething pit of filth

If you can’t find the time to stay on top of cleaning your wood or tile floors, be sure to steer clear of carpet. Despite what carpet manufacturers and vacuum cleaner commercials might claim, you can never really get carpet clean. It harbors dust, dirt, pet dander, pollen, pet hair, and just about every other nasty small particle you can imagine. 

All it takes is a moderately-powerful microscope to discover MRSA, dust mites, and mold spores in just about any square inch of carpet. While a quick vacuuming will make your carpet appearclean, the vast majority of dirt is in the base, and only expensive professional cleaning methods can remove it. To do so, they release toxic, carcinogenic chemicals. Even the United States National Institute of Health recommends consumers stay away from carpet.

Carpets are full of nasty microscopic critters, such as these dust mites.

No time to clean? Try outsourcing

If your time is truly constrained to the point you’re prioritizing flooring’s ability to hide dirt, there are some other options you may consider to help keep your floors clean. Robotic vacuums have become increasingly affordable ($200 to $300 on average) and require minimal effort to maintain. Plus, they make a great place for your cat to lounge and keep warm.  

Then, there are many local and app-based cleaning services available. For a nominal fee, usually about $25-$30 an hour, a background-checked local cleaning professional will come deep-clean your home from top to bottom anywhere from once per week to once per month.

While outsourcing cleaning duties to robots and housecleaners doesn’t absolve you of all your cleaning responsibilities—you’ll still have to keep the place tidy so your robot doesn’t get stuck, and housekeepers focus on scrubbing surfaces, not organizing your junk—sometimes just knowing the vacuum is going to turn itself on soon or the housecleaner is coming in the morning can provide enough motivation to keep your mess from getting out of control. 

Tired of flooring that highlights rather than hides the dirt? Check out our guide to hardwood and hardwood-inspired flooring as well as our explanation of the different types of tile to help you decide what flooring is right for you. Ready for a hassle-free quote with a pricing guarantee? Call or email today for a free consultation.

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