How Many Kinds of Hardwood Floors There Are?
Updated: Aug 21
People talk about Hardwood flooring as though it’s all the same, but it’s not. There are different kinds of floor called hardwood flooring, and then within those kinds are specific species. On this page we’ll discuss how it work.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood is what people usually think of as traditional hardwood flooring. It’s pure planks of a species of wood such as oak, maple, or ash, with none of the manufacturing found in engineered hardwood.
Even though solid and engineered hardwood flooring are usually indistinguishable to the common observer, people still often like the idea of having traditional, solid hardwood floors. Solid hardwood flooring does indeed have an important advantage: it lasts a lot longer than engineered wood flooring, with a 30–100-year life expectancy versus a 20–40-year expectancy for engineered hardwood.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood flooring is made of composite wood topped with a veneer of solid hardwood. People often assume it’s an inferior product because of the manufacturing, but engineered hardwood holds multiple advantages over solid hardwood. Namely:
· Engineered wood flooring cost less than solid hardwood flooring.
· Engineered hardwood is more resistant to humidity and temperature fluctuations.
· Engineered hardwood is easier to install and more flexible in how it can be installed.
· Engineered wood flooring works well with underfloor heating.
The primary disadvantages of hardwood flooring are that it’s life-expectancy is less (20–40 years versus 30–100) and that it can’t be refinished as many times, due to it being thinner.
Other Types of Wood Flooring
While solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring are by far the most common types of wood flooring, there are other options. The increased environmental consciousness of modern society is driving these options to greater popularity.
This exotic choice is eco-friendly (bamboo grows very fast) and is actually harder than most of the species of wood used in solid or engineered hardwood flooring. Like most forms of solid hardwood, it’s more expensive than engineered hardwood flooring ($5–15 per square foot versus $3–14).
An option that many people don’t realize exists, cork flooring has been available for a long time. Because cork oak is considered green and renewable and because cork is biodegradable, cork flooring has grown in popularity. Cork flooring is quite soft. It doesn’t deal well with water damage, and it’s susceptible to warping from heat and humidity.
A wide variety of hardwood floor species exist. These species apply to solid and engineered hardwood alike. In the following section, we’ll discuss some of them.
In describing the wood species, we’ll list their Janka hardness numbers. The higher the Janka number, the stronger the wood is. The scale for species used in hardwood flooring generally ranges from 800 to 3,000 (one exception is on our list).
1. White oak: With a Janka score of 1,360, white oak is a (literally) solid choice for wood flooring. Its smooth, cool colouration adds a peaceful quality to whatever room it’s in.
2. Red oak: A bit softer than white oak at 1,290 on the Janka scale, red oak is preferred by many people because of its warm, comforting hues.
3. Eastern white and southern yellow pines: These choices are softer than the others on the list at only 870 on the Janka scale, but they are also among the most affordable. With the proper care, they will last nearly or even just-as-long as the harder species on this list.
4. Teak: With a whopping 2,330 score on the Janka scale, teak is also a beautiful, richly coloured flooring option that is highly resistant to water damage. It’s also one of the more expensive options.
5. American walnut: One of the most beautiful options available, American walnut is at the lower range in hardness with a 1,010 Janka score. Its dark, rich colouration is absolutely stunning and entices many people to overlook its relative softness.
6. Ash: Another sturdy choice at 1,320 on the Janka scale, ash has a modern, stylish look, and is known for taking stain well. Recently the price has gone up a bit due to a blight of emerald ash borer beetles, but it’s still a popular choice.
7. Maple: A popular choice for basketball courts, maple flooring absorbs shock well and is easy to care for. Its colouration is usually creamy or tan. Its Janka score comes in at a respectable 1,450.
8. Hickory: Coming in at 1,820 on the Janka scale, hickory is a solid hardwood that has tons of personality due to the wide variety of grain-pattern and colouration. The same personality that makes it popular with some people makes it unpopular with others—some people dislike the variety in its visage.
9. Mahogany: Coming from South and Central America, mahogany has a beautiful, rich, dark colouration and smooth, subtle grain patterns. It’s a bit softer at 900 on the Janka scale.
10. Douglas fir: Coming it just 660 on the Janka scale, Douglas fir is considered a softwood rather than a hardwood.
Surface Textures and Finishes
Hardwood floors come in a wide variety of textures and finishes. We’ll discuss those below.
Hardwood flooring comes in the following texture varieties:
· Hand scraped: Made by using draw knifes, hand scrapers, and chisels, hand scraping distresses floors to give them strong character in a style that many people adore.
· Smooth sanded: A common technique, smooth sanded floors are, as the name implies, sanded down to be cleanly smooth and evenly thick.
· Distressed: Distressed floors are hammered and chiseled to have cracks and lines through the planks for a pleasing vintage appearance.
· Wire brushed: The wire-brushing process uses hard-bristled brushes to expose the heart wood of the floor. It gives a rustic look reminiscent of old farmhouses and is great for oak and hickory.
· Beveled: Beveled floors have grooves between the floor planks, given a strong rustic appearance that appeals to many homeowners.
Different floor finishes give different personalities to floors as well as different levels of durability. The three main categories are:
· Acrylic impregnated finishes: These finishes are injected into wood to provide extremely durable finishes. They are used for high-traffic businesses such as restaurants and shopping malls.
· Surface finishes: Composed of urethanes and polyurethanes, these popular finishes are durable and water resistant.
· Wax finishes: Wax finish soaks into wood and creates a protective seal. When cleaning floors with wax finish, use cleaning supplies specifically designed for the purpose.
A wide range of hardwood flooring, flooring textures, and flooring finishes waits for your exploration. We hope this page helped you with your journey!