Types of Wood
Oak is the most popular hardwood flooring choice in America. Its medium-sized grain and slight color variation make it the safest option in terms of aesthetics. It is differentiated from the other wood types with its rosy undertones. In terms of hardness, it is anywhere from 1290 to 1360 on the Janka hardness test. The stability of oak is excellent as it will not expand with humidity, but doesn't hold up as well as others to scratches.
Maple flooring is a light color and sometimes contains black mineral streaks throughout. The actual grain of the wood however is very fine and might not be visible from eye level. Hard maple and sugar maple have a 1450 on the Janka test, at it is very resistant to scratches. Other maples floors are softer and should be avoided in family and pet-owning homes.
Hickory's graining is varied and bold, often with distinct color variation between boards, which can turn off buyers. Hickory is the hardest wood of the five, at 1820 on the Janka, it resists dings and scratches with ease. However, it does expand with humidity, making it less than ideal for climates with changes in temperature. Choosing an engineered hickory floor -rather than solid- can take care of this problem.
Walnut ranges from chocolate brown (center of the tree) to yellow (outer portion). Walnut is typically oiled to bring out its natural color. However, the high variation in color makes walnut a risky choice for buyers. It is very stable, will not expand with humidity but it has a 1010 on the Janka test.
Cherry has a very faint straight grain and beautiful rich color without stain. It is easily shaped, being the softest of the 5 on the Janka scale at 995. Polishing natural colored cherry brings out the color and is a very luxurious flooring, however it is very soft and the color darkens with age making it unpredictable.
Stains & Finishes
Hardwood floors come in every imaginable color, the possibilities are endless. It would be impossible to name every shade of stain but we have listed what we have found to be some of -currently- the most popular wood finishes.
Light Neutral Rustic
Have Fun With It!
Hardwood floors don't have to be laid in the same linear fashion in every home. Switch it up and make a statement!
Herringbone is a classic way of creating motion and visual interest.
Inlays elegantly and efficiently define spaces.
Stenciling graphics onto your wood floors, either with stain or paint, can be a fun way of introducing color or a pattern to your floors.
Parquet floor patterns are interesting and beautifully intricate for a real 'wow' factor!
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