Choosing the Best Wood Flooring for Your Home

As an element of interior design, there are many different types of hardwood flooring available to choose from. Whether for home or business, hardwood floors are ideal because they can adapt to any décor. Flooring can be selected from a variety of species for its own color, characteristics, and look, whether it’s for variations in grains or simply for knot holes. Wood is also an abundant, natural resource. These days, sustainable forest management practices see forests harvested and replanted time and again without serious impact on the environment.

different types of hardwood flooring

Another important factor when selecting your hardwood floor is its intended application. Where is the floor going to be placed? In a bedroom or a showroom? Therefore, in addition to its design element, knowing a wood’s hardness and durability is essential. The Janka Hardness Scale rates the relative hardness of a wood and is the industry standard in determining which hardwood is right for particular flooring. A numerical scale, it measures the ability of wood species to withstand denting and wear, along with how hard a species is to saw, mill, or nail. The higher the number rating the harder the wood is. Brazilian Walnut is the toughest wood there is, rated at 3684, and followed by Ebony at 3220. To no surprise, Eastern White Pine is the lowest rated at 380. The industry benchmark to compare the relative hardness of different wood species is Red Oak, scoring a 1290 on the Janka Scale. 

Finally, with the proper installation and finishing, a hardwood floor will last for years on end. Nevertheless, make sure the room is suited for wood flooring. Even though the majority of hardwoods are strong enough to withstand most wear and tear, keep in mind that no wood is fully impact-resistant. As an example, hardwood flooring would not be suitable for a weight room. Below is a list of the common types of hardwood flooring options with a short overview of the characteristics, coloring, and durability of the species:

Oak

There are two principal species of Oak used in flooring. Red Oak is known for its warm undertones, and as mentioned, has a Janka rating of 1290. Because there are 200 subspecies in North America, depending on its origin, the coloring ranges from light brown to pinkish red with a swirling pattern.

White Oak is a little lighter in color with swirling grains and yellow rays and flecks. Its Janka Scale weighs in at 1360. Both varieties take well to staining because of their open grain.

Maple

A light colored, creamy white hardwood, maple is known for its subtle closed-grains, sometimes with reddish hints. It is certainly one of the harder wood species for flooring, reading 1450 on the Janka Scale. Ultra-durable and affordable, it’s best used for heavy wear. Maple is often used in bowling alleys. Though it doesn’t stain well, it does take to water-based polyurethane finishes.

Bamboo

Bamboo has light manila and yellow tones with tannish brown shades. A strong, durable wood, easily recognizable by its distinctive grain pattern showing the nodes from the bamboo stalks. Though it can be laid vertically, as a design element, horizontal cutting tends to show nodes more prominently. It rates a hearty 1380 on the Janka scale.  

Hickory

Hickory is the hardest, heaviest, and strongest wood in North American. It is known for its highly pronounced color variation which gives it a rustic look. The sapwood of hickory is white, tinged with inconspicuous fine brown lines while the heartwood is tan to reddish brown. Both are rough-textured and the grain is fine and usually straight though it can be wavy or irregular. With an 1820 on the Janka scale, hickory is perfect for your busiest spaces.

Cherry

Cherry’s fine, beautiful grain and color variation ranges from reddish brown to blond. It is often used in furniture making because it’s easily shaped. However, though its 950 rating on the Janka Scale means it can dent easily, it still can be used for flooring in rooms with limited traffic or topped with throw rugs, like bedrooms. Unstained, it has a rich striking color and can darken with age.

Walnut

Walnut is a well-defined, straight-grained hardwood. Depending on the cut and location, coloring ranges from dark chocolate in the center of the tree to shades of yellow on the outer part of the tree. The many shades of Walnut are known for its beauty, and it is not uncommon to find the wood in older homes. Walnut is a relatively strong and stable wood with a 1010 on the Janka Scale. Like cherry, it’s good for low-traffic areas.

These are a handful of popular hardwood flooring choices. To get the ultimate guidance on selecting hardwood flooring, contact us to work with an experienced Higgins Carpet One Floor & Home customer service representative.