What Is Wood Inlay?

Wood inlays are a type of woodworking feature that catches the eye – whether on your hardwood floors or on furniture. Inlays represent the work of a true artisan, and they require a skilled hand to add them to wood furniture. This is no DIY weekend project!

What Is Wood Inlay Flooring?

A wood inlay is the addition of an often contrasting, colored material into a shape that’s cut out to accept the inlay. It is fit flush with the existing floor, often in different designs additionally to the differentiation in color. Wood inlay is largely decorative, including materials made of maple, walnut, cherry, ebony, or other exotic woods. It’s a great cost-effective way to add normally expensive exotic woods to a simpler hardwood flooring setting. Inlay can be as stark a contrast as adding dark colored inlays like ebony on a a lighter stain color or adding cherry to a dark walnut for a discrete difference. Consult an expert to evaluate your design first, as choosing a stain that’s too dark could cause the effect of the inlay to be lost.

How Is Wood Inlay Flooring Made?

The inlay shape is traced on the wood. Then, the pocket the inlay will go into is cut out to create the opening. It’s important the inlay strip or shape is cut out correctly for just the right fit. Then the inlay is cut to fit the shape using the material it is to be made of. While it seems like a simple concept, it’s easy to mess up an inlay installation and destroy your floors. The inlay must be sealed and set in place. Unlike furniture where some pieces may not have contact, your floors are costly being used and require a sturdier binder than simple wood glue used in furniture.

Wood Inlay

Wood Inlay vs. Marquetry

Marquetry is a decorative technique where wood veneers are sawn into a pattern and then assembled like a jigsaw. Inlay is similar but instead of assembling a large panel of veneer, the decoration is inset into a recess cut into a larger panel of wood. They’re not extremely different from each other, however the difference in processes may lead to difference in the finished project. Ask your flooring contractor about any possible differences! While not an impossible skill to learn, like any high end technique it requires training, practice, and time and are still best done by practiced artisans like the flooring experts of Dream Hardwood Floors. Call today to book a consultation for brand new inlay floors!