Customers in our showroom often ask, “What is the best wood flooring species for my home?” The species is the type of tree the wood flooring is made from. Each species has unique characteristics that create its own natural beauty and style.
The three most popular species of wood flooring are oak, maple, and hickory. These species of trees are grown domestically in North America, so they are generally the best price and most available.
This week, we’ll discuss the differences between the different species and how to select the best style for your home.
Oak Wood Flooring Species
Oak is the most popular choice for wood flooring, and for good reason. It is grown plentifully in North America, so it is a great option on a budget. Additional materials needed for your project, like transitions, stair treads, and moldings, will be readily available and at a lower price as well.
There are two kinds of domestic oak: red oak and white oak. Red oak has warm, pink, undertones while white oak has cool, green undertones. Red oak is more common, but white oak has gained in popularity as cool colors became a design trend. Flooring products may not specify red vs. white oak once the flooring is stained, since the stain covers the natural undertones.
The most popular stain colors for oak are butterscotch or gunstock. The appearance of these colors will very between manufacturers, but most will have some version of gunstock.
Oak is a popular choice for busy homes and high traffic rooms like your kitchen or living room. Oak has a Janka score–the measure of how hard a wood is–of 1290-1360. Some think that a harder wood will be more durable, but oak is a classic for a reason. The grainy lines create beautiful designs and helps disguise any scratches on the finish.
Oak is the classic choice, which is why you’ll sit it in many older homes and historically preserved buildings. That’s because oak is built to last! Oak floors in many historical buildings have lasted for centuries. The Old Barracks museum in Trenton asked us to install oak gunstock flooring when they were doing renovations.
Maple Wood Flooring Species
Maple is more uniform in appearance than oak or hickory, with minimal color variation and grain lines. Depending on the grade, it may have lots of black mineral streaks, or it may be a clean grade with almost no black at all. Cleaner grades are popular in formal rooms, like dining rooms.
You’ve probably seen maple at your local basketball court or gym floor. Maple is a popular choice for sport floors because of its density that bounces balls well, and its uniform appearance, which makes it easy to paint logos and isn’t distracting to audiences. We installed maple flooring at the Pemberton Borough gym.
Hard maple is the type of maple used for flooring, as other types of maples are too soft. Maple is slightly harder than oak, with a Janka score of 1450. However, because it lacks the grains and color variation of oak, wear and tear can be more noticeable. Dark stained maple is especially prone to showing scratches.
For maple floors, you’re usually better off with prefinished flooring instead of site-finished flooring. Because of its density, maple doesn’t absorb stain very well and the uniform appearance can show sanding and finish lines more. Factory finished maple floors can achieve beautiful, consistent stain colors, so you’ll find many good prefinished options.
Hickory Wood Flooring Species
Hickory is a wood with tons of character. The beauty of hickory is the contrast of the light wood with the black mineral streaks. Hickory is a statement piece in your home design, since the high character floor will catch the eye.
Hickory has a Janka score of 1820, so it’s the hardest of the popular domestic options. But more importantly, the high character and contrast hides wear and tear well.
The black mineral streaks give hickory a rustic look, so it’s popular in rustic designed homes, like log cabins. It is often paired with a handscraped finish for even more character. A stain color gives a more subtle beauty, with the stain reducing the contrast between board colors.
Visit our showroom to see oak, maple, hickory, and more species of wood floors!