The definitive wood flooring guide

Buying hardwood flooring can be quite intimidating in 2016.  Reason being, there are so many choices!  There are literally thousands of varieties available and it is hard to decide what would be best for your home.  While we can’t cover everything about the buying process here, what are goal is with this article is to give you more insight on different species and varieties of wood flooring to help you decide what might be nest for you.  There are many different things to keep in mind when choosing a species of wood.  Texture, color, wood grain, style and durability are just a few.  As an example, some designers say that a lighter colored wood would be an appropriate choice for a casual feeling room and a darker colored wood would ooze sophistication and might be a better choice for any type of formal room. These are obviously just suggestions and keep in mind that there are no definitive rules when it comes to choosing your new floor.  The most important thing is your personal taste and what fits into your budget.  Different species can be very far apart in price so that may be something that can help you decide if you are limited on funds.

Many different wooden floor installers have preferences on which wood they like to work with because of ease of installation or how well the boards suck up next to each other.  Sometimes installers will suggest a different wood simply because they do not want to do the extra work involved with installing some of the exotic species.

Like mentioned earlier, there are thousands of wood species available today so we can not very well list them all without starting a hardwood-wiki page. 😉  That being said we will list some of the most common types that are popular today.


  • Cherry – Cherry is light brown in color but it is a very soft wood and for that reason it is usually not used as a flooring material.  When used in a floor it is more for an accent or inlay.
  • White oak – Contrary to its name, white oak is a brown wood that sometimes has a gray overtone. IT has a similar grain to its sister wood Red oak but is slightly more swirly in nature.White oak is quite a bit harder than its reddish counterpart as well.
  • Douglas fir – Tan in color this type of wood is very soft and should only be used in certain situations.  To be honest with you, it would probably be best to stay away from this for just that reason.
  • Beech – Beechwood is brownish red in color and the grain almost looks like a repeated pattern and looks very similar throughout every cut of wood. This is a great choice if you like consistency. It is also well known for being shock resistant.
  • Pine – Pine is a cheaper option than most and is usually brownish yellow in color, the grain contains a lot of variation and usually includes a lot of knots. Unfortunately it is quite a bit softer than a lot of other woods but actually does surprisingly well as a floor especially in a cottage or cabin.
  • Birch – This wood have a wide range of color, on the dark end it is a dark red and the lighter side it is a very soft yellow.  On the hardness scale it comes in below both types of oak but it is still a great choice and holds up well.
  • Red oak –  This is by far the most commonly used species of wood used in the industry. It has a very coarse grain and has a reddish hue. It is a hardy wood that holds up under high traffic but it is not the highest traffic resistant wood.

When trying to choose a wood floor it is important to take the price into account.  Wood floors are almost always without fail priced per foot squared.  What that means is you will get the equivalent of 1 square foot of coverage for whatever the dollar amount is.  Before deciding it is a good idea to take measurements of the are you would like to cover that way you can do some basic math when scoping out different options.  Pricing is all over the board, the cheapest of which will be a parquet style floor that you might be able to find for under $1 per square foot.  An average price for oak will usually be between 2-4 dollars and the more rare and exotic species can be anywhere from 5- 20 dollars per foot squared.

Hardness is another factor that you should keep in mind.  If you have a house full of children and animals then a softer wood might not be your best choice.  Hardwoods are rated on a scale.  The scale used is the Janka hardness scale.  The scale measures how much force it takes to drive a .444 ball bearing to the halfway point into the wood.  The higher the number is on the scale, the harder the wood rating.

There is also a grading system for wood, the grade of a wood was put in place to differentiate the look and quality of wood flooring.  Grading will take into account a lot of different factors including the color, the grain consistency relative to the species and the amount of imperfections. The highest grade will be marked with the word “Select”.  Select wood will have less imperfections and will look more consistent when compared to lower grades.



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