Shopping for new hardwood flooring can certainly be an overwhelming experience – there are so many different styles to consider. We know! Nearly a quarter of our showroom is consumed by hardwood displays. So, where do you start?
A great way to narrow your search (and make the decision process less stressful) is to select the most appropriate wood species for your home. Sometimes that’s finding the right natural tones of the wood, sometimes it has to do with the grain pattern (or lack-there-of) and sometimes it’s the “durability” of the wood.
We use quotations around the word “durability” because it can sometimes be a misleading word in the hardwood world. Yes – some woods are harder than others, making them more resistant to damage, but let’s get one thing clear – whether you select a soft wood like pine or a hardwood like Brazilian cherry, ALL wood is going to dent and ALL wood is going to scratch. These are natural characteristics of the material. That said, some woods dent and scratch easier than others.
Below is a comprehensive list of some of the more common wood species used to make hardwood flooring that are suitable for the Midwest climate. We’ve included a short description of some of the natural characteristics associated with each species.
Quite possibly the most common wood used in the flooring industry, red oak has been around for years. It’s located in the middle of the Janka hardness rating scale making it a solid choice for normal household wear and tear. With its naturally warm undertones, this wood pairs well with stained trim and earthy tones. Red Oak wood has moderate to heavy graining, creating depth and adding dimension to any floor. It is commonly seen in thinner plank widths (2-1/4”, 3”, 4”), though manufactured as an engineered product, it can certainly come a little wider. With significant grain patterns, comes higher levels of expansion and contraction of each plank with climate changes.
An increasingly popular choice for hardwood flooring nowadays, white oak offers very similar characteristics to red oak, only it’s graining is less contrasting and tighter, and it’s coloring is more yellow and grey. It’s also a slightly harder wood. More dense than red oak, the harder grain allows the wood to take stains more evenly, and the linear grain pattern pairs nicely in more contemporary and modern style homes. 7-1/2” engineered white oak floors seem to be a very predominate size on our showroom floor, however we have both larger and smaller options as well.
One of the most uniform woods on the market, clear hard maple is an excellent choice for any homeowner looking for a cohesive-looking floor. Very minimal in graining with only slight shade variation between planks, maple appeals to consumers who are in the market for a nice and clean aesthetic. Maple typically carries some yellow characteristics and undertones. That said, it takes stain quite well. ACo offers everything from natural maple floors to charcoal finishes, and everything in between. It’s a safe neutral option that, with the right finish color, can work in any style home.
Known for its rich warm tone and elegantly flowy grain pattern, cherry is often considered a very luxurious wood. Its natural beauty can be seen in each and every board. Cherry wood flooring varies greatly from board to board, both in color and grain pattern and as it ages it becomes deeper and richer in tone.
Typically seen in rustic applications and oftentimes in its natural state, Hickory is one of the “busier” looking hardwoods. The grain pattern is very wide and defined, and contrasts sharply with its natural yellow tone. Due to the high variation of colors ranging from a soft creamy beige to yellows and medium browns, it is typically seen in larger plank widths.
While these 5 wood species are the most common, there are certainly others to look at as well. Our birch flooring is typically the most cost effective while some of our Jatoba and Bamboo options are more elite and certainly more eye-catching as well.
To learn more about wood species and to see our expansive collection of hardwood flooring, connect with us to schedule a free in-home consultation. One of our experienced designers can help walk you through the selection process.