Types of Hardwood Flooring

There are many types of hardwood flooring, each with its own unique characteristics. Understanding these differences can help you determine what wood floor is right for your home.

Oak is a common choice because of its durability and color versatility. Its varied grain pattern helps to hide scratches.

Maple is a light-colored wood that complements both modern and rustic decor styles. Its natural finish can also be stained darker to create an elegant look.

Red Oak

Oak wood is an extremely popular choice for flooring and is durable and easy to care for. It also accepts stains very well. Both red and white oak will take on a darker color when stained.

When choosing the type of red or white oak hardwood floor you want, you must consider how much traffic your home will have. Red oak has a medium Janka hardness rating, which means it won’t scratch as easily but can dent slightly easier than some harder types of wood.

The grain pattern of red oak is more varied, with wider or wavy lines. This gives it a rustic and natural look that can warm up or complement many decor styles. White oak has a tighter, more uniform grain and can offer a cleaner look to your floors. Both species are beautiful and durable, but you must decide which is right for your home. The ultimate decision will come down to personal preference and your instincts. Both will look great in your home with the correct stain color.

White Oak

White Oak is a domestic hardwood that is more affordable than some of its imported competitors. It also receives a high score on the Janka hardness scale, which means that it can withstand heavy foot traffic without any significant damage.

White oak is available in a wide variety of finishes and stain colors. It’s neutral color palette works well with nearly any interior design style. Staining white oak floors with a dark color will enhance its unique grain pattern and make the floor look more substantial.

This species can be sawn in several different ways, including cathedral (Plain Sawn), fleck (Quarter Sawn) and rift/quartered/live (Rift Sawn). Each cut accentuates the beauty of the grain patterns, which vary from wave-like mineral streaks to more linear lines.

Because it’s so hardy, white oak holds up well to heavy foot traffic and household pets. But it’s always a good idea to select pre-finished hardwood flooring that includes a thick wear layer, which will extend its lifespan and provide the best resistance against scratches and other common wear and tear.


Hickory hardwood floors offer an authentic look with plenty of natural character. These natural wood floors typically contain a lot of color variation, knots and mineral streaks. They can be used in any style of home from rustic to contemporary. Hickory is often milled into solid wood flooring planks that are nailed to the wooden support beams of a house known as joists. Hickory wood flooring is also available in engineered options for more stability and moisture resistance.

When a homeowner chooses to install a solid hickory wood floor they should be aware that these floors are very hard and durable with a Janka rating of 1,820. This is a very strong and sturdy option for heavy traffic areas.

Like all types of hardwood floors hickory can be sensitive to moisture and changes in temperature. To ensure a long lasting beautiful floor it is recommended that homeowners have a pinless moisture meter installed in their home prior to installing any type of hardwood flooring.


Cherry hardwood flooring brings warmth and a natural beauty to any room. Its unique color palette of warm reds and browns creates an elegant look that also ages wonderfully. This hardwood can be found in both domestic and Brazilian varieties.

Domestic cherry is grown in North America and offers a wide range of color options. Its natural coloring can be enhanced with a variety of wood floor stains, though it is often left bare for the most vibrant look. Cherry wood floors have a medium density, making them somewhat soft in comparison to other hardwood types. It is therefore best suited to low-traffic areas.

Brazilian cherry is grown in Brazil and offers a stunning array of natural colors. It is known for its unique graining pattern and deep red tones that oxidize into rich brown tones over time. Its high Janka rating of 2350 makes it one of the strongest and most durable hardwood species.

This beautiful hardwood can be found in both solid planks as well as engineered flooring for a quick and easy do it yourself installation. You can even find it as handscraped flooring, which is machine textured to reproduce the shallow grooves commonly seen in antique hand-scraped floors.


Walnut hardwood floors add a touch of luxury to your home. Its natural dark colors give it a look that stands out from other wood flooring options and can create a focal point in your home. Walnut is a durable and long-lasting floor that will look great for years to come.

This domestic hardwood is fairly soft with a Janka hardness rating of 1010. The variation in color between the light sapwood and rich brown heartwood gives walnut flooring its unique appearance. The natural color tones can also hide dents and scratches from furniture.

Walnut has a straight grain but can be irregular in places with the grain lines being wavy or swirly. It is an attractive hardwood that will complement many design styles. It looks especially good with darker stain colors and can be used in rooms that get a lot of sunlight.