Head-Over-Heels for Hardwood: A Complete Guide to the Different Types of Hardwood

Hardwood flooring generated over $2.2 billion in global sales in 2019. That’s over 926.7 million square feet of hardwood flooring installed around the world!

If you’re thinking about hardwood flooring in your home, you may wonder: what are the different types of hardwood I can get? You’re in luck because today we’re guiding you through everything you need to know to choose the best hardwood flooring.

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Ready to find the perfect flooring for your home? Then you better keep reading because this one’s for you!

 Traditional Hardwood

Hardwood is one of the oldest types of flooring in the world. These traditional hardwood floors used solid boards that come from a single piece of wood. Installers nail the boards to a wood subfloor, making traditional hardwood difficult to install on concrete.

Traditional hardwood floors tend to be more expensive because of this. Solid wood flooring also isn’t ideal for humid locations or basement installation. If traditional wood floors get too wet, the wood can shrink and create unsightly gaps.

Despite these downsides, many homeowners still love traditional wood flooring. Taking care of solid wood floors can see them last for many, many years. Plus, you can refinish traditional hardwood as many times as you want for a new look.

Engineered Hardwood

New innovations in wood manufacturing have brought us engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood is made of multiple layers of wood and other materials. Then, a layer of real hardwood gets added on top for a beautiful finish.

Because they require less expensive materials, engineered hardwoods come at a fraction of the cost of traditional hardwood floors. Hardwood floor contractors can also place engineered hardwood over any flooring type. That’s right: your home doesn’t have to come with a wooden subfloor for engineered hardwood to work for you.

This modern type of hardwood flooring is ideal for humidity since engineers design this flooring to last. As long as it’s installed correctly, an engineered hardwood floor won’t warp or gap. 

The only downside? You can only refinish engineered hardwood floors a few times. Yet, with your floors conveniently pre-finished for you, you can always choose a finish that will stand the test of time. 

Common Hardwood Species for Your Home

Different hardwood species offer you the chance to customize the color and the pattern of your flooring. You can also achieve improved durability with some of the options on the market.

Here are the top five hardwood species used in residential flooring today.

Maple

Maple floors are a classic for a reason. They’re very durable, making them ideal for every room in your home. If you value uniformity throughout your home’s flooring, maple wood is definitely for you.

This wood species is lighter in color than most of the other options on this list. You’ll find cream and tan colors, often with subtle red tones. Maple’s grain (or wood pattern) is delicate, but you can find some variations with darker flecks for more dimension.

Hickory

Hickory is an extremely durable hardwood flooring choice for high-traffic areas. It’s the hardest wood species on our list, making it ideal for kitchens, family rooms, and entry halls. 

Homeowners love that hickory comes in such a wide variety of colors. This wood species tend to feature brown tones, but they can vary from reddish-tan to a warm, dark brown. 

If you’re searching for subtlety, you may want to look elsewhere. Hickory floors showcase large, dark knots that give each floorboard a unique, rustic look. 

Walnut

Walnut flooring is ideal for homeowners with a flair for the dramatics. It’s the darkest wood on our list, showcasing coffee-colored tones that don’t vary from one board to the next. Walnut wood has a straight, almost indecipherable pattern.

In terms of durability, walnut flooring isn’t the hardest. You might want to avoid placing this flooring in high-traffic areas as it does tend to show wear-and-tear relatively fast.

If you just can’t live without walnut flooring in your entire home, choose a harder species like Brazilian walnut. 

Oak

Oak is arguably the most chosen wood species for residential hardwood flooring. It comes in two unique types: red oak and white oak.

Red oak comes in warm, rustic tones like red and brown. The grain of red oak features an elegant swirling design. While red oak is a bit less durable than white oak, it has relatively high durability compared to cherry and walnut species.

If you’re searching for cool, grey undertones for your floors, white oak is an excellent option. White oak has a similar swirling pattern to red oak, but without any of the rustic undertones. White oak is highly durable, making it ideal for kitchens and family rooms.

Cherry 

Cherry wood is the softest hardwood flooring species on our list. That’s why most homeowners reserve it for low-traffic areas. Also, keep cherry wood floors away from sunlight because they do tend to darken in the sun with time. 

Homeowners love cherry wood floors because they come in that classic warm brown color. The grain is smooth and subtle, not taking any attention away from your decor. This wood species would look beautiful in guest bedrooms and formal eating areas.

Like walnut floors, you can improve the durability of cherry floors with certain species. Choose Brazilian cherry wood for harder floors that will stand up to whatever you and your family throw their way.

Install One of These Types of Hardwood in Your Home!

Whether you go with traditional or engineered hardwood, you have plenty of options when it comes to species. Oak, hickory, and maple are perfect options for every room in the house. For those spaces that deserve a little extra attention, choose beautiful cherry and walnut. 

Did you enjoy learning about the different types of hardwood and hardwood species? Then you’re going to love what else we have in store. Keep checking back every day for new articles just like this one!

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