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High variation vinyl flooring in living room setting

High-Variation Flooring: What You Need to Know

Your new flooring just came in and you’re ready to start installing. You open one box and lay the planks side by side, clicking them in or using the glue-down method. You open another box and start doing the same except…wait….

These planks are a whole shade darker!

If you keep installing one box at a time, your new floor will look less like the trendy, high-variation style you were going for and more like a leopard-print eye sore displayed across your entire room.

In other words, a complete fail.

High-variation flooring is a popular style, but this installation mishap is all too common. This is why it’s important with high-variation flooring – and any flooring, really – to take all of the planks or tiles out of the boxes first and lay them out. Lay different colors next to each other to achieve that high-variation look instead of a splotchy floor.

Keep reading to learn more about high-variation trends, the best options for high-variation flooring and how to install it the right away.

Related content >> Flooring Trends: This Year’s Top 5 Flooring Ideas

What is High-Variation Flooring?

FlooringInc Mohawk Variations Waterproof Vinyl Planks

High-variation flooring means that your floor will have more variety in colors and shades. It’s a unique design among wood, wood-look and tile flooring. Those types of floors typically come in a similar color pattern, but high variation creates more of a statement with its design.

How Does High-Variation Flooring Differ From Regular Flooring?

When you order traditional vinyl, laminate or tile flooring, all of your boxes will contain planks or tiles with the same hue and dye shade. But high variation includes light and dark shades or multiple color mixes in the same box.

You’ll see high color variation between planks and even within each plank. This gives your floor a look of dimension and beauty, a design that’s modern and traditional at the same time.

It’s important to know that even with traditional flooring you’ll see some variation in shades, but nothing as starkly contrasting as with high variation.

Is High-Variation Flooring Right For You?

The aesthetic appeal in high color variation flooring is that it provides a natural, rustic look, similar to the inconsistencies of real wood and stone. The large contrast in coloring shows the detailed graining and knots, providing visual interest in your floor. A high-variation floor is more of a statement piece and tends to pair best with simple but contemporary decor.

It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, though. If you’re particularly OCD or like things plain and simple, there’s nothing wrong with traditional gray flooring. But know that even single-color floors will have some variation to them.

High variation, however, is for the free spirit. The person who’s looking to make a statement with their design. People who want their flooring to be a work of art rather than something to walk all over.

Where to Use High Variation Flooring

Flooring Inc Mohawks Variation Vinyl Planks in kitchen setting

These visually stunning floors work better in large, open spaces, like a living room, kitchen or dining room. This style can appear to have too much going on for a smaller bedroom or office, making the room look busy. Plus, high variation floors are meant to be seen, so it’s best to keep them out in the open.

High Variation Flooring Pros

What are the advantages of high variation flooring?

  • Realistic looks: High color variation provides a natural, rustic look, similar to the inconsistencies of real wood and stone.
  • Aesthetic appeal: High variation floors make a statement. The color variation creates depth and beauty, completing a bold home design.
  • Good for high-traffic areas: Since these floors already show such high variation, scratches and marks that appear as it gets used won’t be as noticeable!
  • Budget-friendly: High variation doesn’t automatically mean a high price. You can get high variation in different types of flooring, from affordable laminate to high-end vinyl or wood.
  • Creative installation process: If you’re a true DIY-er and you love making things your own, you’ll love installing high variation flooring. Rather than monotonously clicking planks in place, high variation installation takes more careful thought into how the finished design will come together.
  • Great for large, open spaces: This style is great for a living room, kitchen or dining room. You know, all the places where your guests are more likely to admire it.

High Variation Flooring Cons

What are the disadvantages of high variation flooring?

  • Bold design: If you like your home design to be plain and simple, high variation is not going to be your thing.
  • Requires thoughtful installation: The biggest challenge with high variation flooring is miscommunication in installation. Each box needs to be opened before beginning the installation so that you don’t end up with multiple planks of the same color next to each other.
  • Not great for bedrooms or small spaces: This style can make a small room feel too busy.

The Most Important Thing to Know About High Variation Flooring

Flooring Inc Mohawk Variations Vinyl Plank flooring

The most important thing to do before installing high variation flooring is to open all of the boxes. Nay, the most important thing to do before installing any type of flooring is to open all of the boxes.


With high variation flooring, you’re going to have different shades and colors across your boxes. To truly make the right statement with your flooring, open all of the boxes first and look at what you have.

Lay out the planks temporarily to see how the colors will line up. This is where you can get creative. With high variation flooring, you want to avoid having two similar-looking planks installed next to each other.

How to Order High Variation Flooring and What to Look Out For

Flooring Inc Mohawk Variations Vinyl Plank Flooring color swatch

As homeowners embrace this trend head-on, you will begin to see stores with entire sections dedicated to high variation wood colors.

Oftentimes when purchasing flooring, people like to get samples to test out the colors in their room. But if you order just one sample of flooring, you’re likely to get one color showing through the sample. This doesn’t help you see how a high variation floor is going to look in your home.

When deciding on high variation flooring to purchase, be sure to order multiple samples of the product. You may even want to choose different colors of samples to test them out side by side in your room.

How to Install High Variation Flooring

Whether you’re installing your flooring yourself or hiring a contractor, the most important thing to do is open all of your boxes before installing. Pull the planks or tiles from the boxes and lay them out, ensuring that you have no two same colors next to each other.

What often happens is that the installer doesn’t know the homeowner purchased a high variation floor. The installer may begin to install the floor by opening one box at a time and end up with that complete fail of a floor we talked about earlier. It’s important to communicate to your installer ahead of time and let them know that your floor is high variation.

High Variation Flooring Installation Tips

What are the Best Flooring Options for High Variation?

With the flooring technology soaring, it is now easier than ever to make your floors look more natural, truer to their original state. In nature, no two pieces of wood look alike. Now, manufacturers are able to replicate this in their floors.

High color variation is trending in wood (and wood looks) as well as tile. Wood looks typically feature color variation between planks, whereas high variation in tile typically refers to the amount of color variation in each individual plank.

Here are the different options of high variation wood flooring available.

High Variation Wood Flooring


TritonCORE Pro 7" Rigidcore Vinyl Planks

Wood flooring is a classic choice, and even with the influx of wood-look flooring options, there will always be a market for solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring.

As homeowners increasingly use flooring to set the tone or feel of their home, manufacturers are responding with more beautiful wood flooring colors than ever before.

Usually, these variations occur in the same color family. As you can see above, those wood planks all look like they relate to each other; no 17th cousins sticking out like a sore thumb.

However, you will see some floors that incorporate bright colors in with their neutrals. It’s less common, but if done correctly, it can instantly elevate the look and feel of your home. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter!


High Variation Tile Flooring


hexagon wood-look wall tile

Over the last decade or so, tile has totally taken off, beautifully replicating the hottest wood looks and even expanding into new textures to offer the most convincing look and feel.

High color variation is trending in both wood and stone looks among tile flooring. Homeowners love the natural, rustic look that higher color variation provides. In nature, stone and wood aren’t so uniform; there are all kinds of inconsistencies.

Wood looks typically feature color variation between tiles, whereas high variation in stone-look tile typically refers to the amount of color variation in each individual floor tile.


High Variation Vinyl Flooring


Mohawk Perfect Manner 7 Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

High color variation vinyl can feature variation between planks, in each plank or both. This gives you a look with lots of dimension and excitement that is, let’s be honest, less basic. And no one wants to be basic these days.

Now, with modern technology, you can achieve these more random, natural looks that were previously only available in specialty wood flooring with vinyl! Vinyl manufacturers now have the ability to develop shockingly realistic tiles and planks mimicking natural looks, such as wood and stone. With vinyl, you’ll see unique, decorative looks that are currently unavailable in any other style of flooring.


High Variation Laminate Flooring

High variation laminate flooring

Laminate flooring has maintained its status as the staple go-to wood flooring alternative for residential use. Tremendous advancements in flooring technology are allowing the best laminate flooring to resemble solid hardwood more closely than ever before. High variation laminate especially helps elevate the look and feel of your floors.

Laminate flooring offers homeowners an affordable way to achieve their dream wood look. This wood flooring alternative is going stronger than ever with exceptionally realistic looks mimicking the current flooring trends in solid hardwood.


Best High Variation Flooring Products


TritonCORE Pier Park
USFloors Atlas Naturals
Shaw Islander 3”x6” Wall Tile Shaw Marlow 4”x8” Wall Tile
Flooring Type Vinyl Laminate Laminate Engineered Wood Ceramic Tile

Porcelain Tile

Price $$$ $$$ $$$ $$$$$ $$$$$


Get Started with High Variation Flooring

If you want to make a statement with your home design, high variation flooring is a bold style choice that can improve the look and feel of your home.

When deciding on whether high variation flooring is for you, be sure to order several color samples and test them out side by side in your room. Remember that high variation flooring works best for larger spaces and high-traffic areas.

Prevent the common installation mishaps by communicating with your contractor or opening all of the boxes yourself if you’re going DIY. High variation flooring is fun to install when done the right way, but it can be a complete nightmare if you go box by box.

Ready to get started?



Looking for a bold home design? High variation flooring is sure to make a statement. Check out this guide to learn about ordering, installing and creating a flooring masterpiece.

About Michelle Barichello


Michelle Barichello helps passionate DIY-ers envision the home/gym/garage of their dreams. Michelle has contributed posts on topics such as gym flooring, decking options and pet-friendly solutions. Michelle has also written for publications such as Fit Bottomed Girls, the Girls on the Run Remarkable blog, and Women’s Running Magazine.

2 Comments on “High-Variation Flooring: What You Need to Know

  1. This is a brilliantly in-depth look into high variation flooring – a style I am loving right now. It’s interesting that it seems to have become increasingly popular as people are becoming more eco-conscious and look back to more natural tones in the home. Particularly great for a rustic style kitchen if you want to avoid stone tiles. Thanks for sharing!

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