When I see a border and feature strip installed in a hardwood floor I immediately think “high-end and quality.” Border and feature strips are becoming more popular these days and are mostly associated with expensive homes and remod- els. Borders are typically done in the same material as the rest of the floor or “field”. A border frames the "field" of the flooring much like a picture frame, enclos- ing the ends of the rows with floor- ing that runs perpendicular to the rows, so the rows do not terminate into a wall. A feature strip, which can high- light the border, is usually darker and can be made from many dif- ferent materials, shades or sizes. Walnut and mahogany seem to be the most popular in my neck of the woods, probably because they’re offered in many shades. (This project shows Santos Mahogany.)
When considering installing a feature strip in your hardwood floor, the best time to do it is when the floor is being installed. The cost of installing a feature strip is mostly labor since the amount of materials used is minimal. People often ask where a fea- ture strip should be placed. That’s a personal choice but many if not most features strips run along the borders of walls, typically 6 to 12 inches off the wall but not so far that it disappears under the outer perimeter of an area rug. One rule of thumb that I follow is to use one strip in smaller areas and double strips in actual rooms or larger spaces. Typically I use standard width boards for blind-nail- ing purposes. Thinner strips can also be used by milling down strip flooring and installing face nails. Adding a border is usually a separate labor charge, and the feature strip can add anywhere from $1.50 to $10.00 per lineal foot depending on the material cost. DESIGNING A BORDER AND FEATURE STRIP When deciding on a border and feature strip, make sure to research and choose a material with a den- sity similar to your flooring so it will wear evenly. If you choose dif- ferent density materials you may be unhappy in a few years when they wear at different rates. Layout is also important. The border and feature strip planning and measuring must be done before a single board is laid. One small mistake can grow exponentially into an installation disaster later. Use a combination of 3-4-5 triangle measurements, large squares and parallel measure- ments to determine the layout of
In hardwood floors, a border frames the "field" of the flooring much like a picture frame, enclosing the ends of the rows with flooring that runs per- pendicular. A feature strip is a course of flooring made from a different (usually darker) material that accentuates the border.
For this project the feature strip was made from a dark Santos Mahogany.
The feature strip connects to the flooring with a tongue-and-groove joint.