There’s a reason we’ve been using wood for our flooring for millennia: it’s tough. Hardwood floors can stand up to a lot of household wear and tear—and they look great while doing it. It should come as no surprise, then, that early Colonial Americans jumped at the chance to use the country’s abundant wood in their homes, with some of the oldest hardwood floors in America hailing from 1638!
Of course, we’ve come a long way from the days when we were limited to the hardwood flooring types of wood we could find in the forests around us. Today, it’s possible to get your hands on domestic and imported options in no time at all. How do you know which one to choose?
If you’re not sure where to start with the countless options available on today’s market, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the most popular domestic and exotic hardwoods available today.
Oak has long been a common choice for hardwood floors, and for good reason. Oak is hard, durable, comes in a variety of hues and undertones, and complements a huge range of decorative styles.
It’s worth noting, as with many other options on this list, that its hardness varies by species. White oak, for example, measures 1,360 on the Janka hardness scale, but red oak only measures around 1,290.
Prized for its warm red hues that darken over time, cherry wood often has a coarser grain than other options on this list. This grain, however, tends to be straight enough to make this a great pick for its beautiful visual impact.
Cherry wood also creates incredibly hard wood floors, measuring around 2,350 on the Janka hardness scale.
Walnut hardwood flooring imbues rooms with a dramatic, rich, medium- to chocolate-brown hue. With a Janka rating of just 1,010, it’s worth noting that this option is not as hard as other options on this list, making it a better choice for areas with lighter foot traffic.
With a measurement of 1,820 on the Janka scale, hickory wood can be durable enough to stand up to high-traffic and high-impact areas. Even better, it can stand up to common household issues like moisture and regular wear and tear.
Its hue is light when compared to other woods on this list, but savvy homeowners can use this coloring as an opportunity to stain the wood to virtually any shade.
It’s worth noting that “pecan” wood floors are, in fact, a variation of hickory: “pecan hickory.” In contrast to true hickory, pecan has more variable coloring as well as characteristic streaks of brown and red, but it’s often less dense.
Also called sugar maple, hard maple has a Janka score of 1,450, which makes it a good choice for most rooms in the home. Like hickory, it’s light in color, though it often comes with reddish or beige undertones.
The open grain pattern allows it to complement a variety of home décor preferences, and it comes in a wide range of styles according to species. Using an online floor visualizer tool and working with an expert like Jorgensen hardwood floors can help you decide which variation would work best in your home.
Comparable to white oak in terms of hardness and grain, solid ash has a light natural color that often comes with grey-brown to deep brown undertones. This look makes it a good choice for contemporary settings. Ash also does not splinter and has natural shock absorption properties, which makes it comfortable to walk on.
Though bamboo is technically a grass, strand-woven bamboo is so hard that many households use it as a form of hardwood flooring. After artificial hardening and added resins, bamboo can measure over 3,800 on the Janka scale.
Due to its fast regrowth, it’s a good choice for eco-minded homeowners. Bamboo comes in both lighter shades with yellow undertones as well as darker hues.
One of the most durable types of wood flooring available today, Brazilian ebony earns a Janka score of 3,700. This option is famous for the rich, dark appearance of the wood, which looks dark brown or even black and grows even darker as it ages.
Because of its high density, it tends to be stain- and moisture-resistant. It’s also less susceptible to scuffs and scratches than many of the softer, less durable woods on this list.
Though it’s not a common option for U.S. wood floors, wenge has grown in popularity in recent years. This type of wood comes from Central Africa and has a hardness rating of 1,620.
Difficult to saw and stain, wenge rewards homeowners with its rich hues, which are dark brown or black and grow darker with age.
Another exotic flooring option, fine-grained Bubinga wood originates from Africa and is also sold as “African rosewood.” This option has a Janka hardness of 1,980 and is easy to work with, and its reddish-brown color is often marked with red and even purple veining.
Sydney Blue Gum
Durable and heavy, Sydney Blue Gum grows in Australia, being prevalent in the area around Sydney. Known for the sometimes bluish coloring of its bark, the heartwood itself tends to be reddish- to pinkish-brown in color. With a Janka rating of around 2,020, this durable wood is so hard that it requires carbide blades for cutting.
Know the Hardwood Flooring Types of Wood
When it comes to hardwood flooring, types of wood matter. Whether you’re looking for a durable, scuff-resistant option or a style with a unique grain and coloring, there are so many variations of the options above that you’ll be sure to find the perfect one! Consider your household needs in terms of foot traffic, upkeep, and style to select the right option for your home.
Looking for more quick guides to help you make big decisions? Be sure to check out our other content for product guides, tips and tricks, and more.