What Type of Wood Should You Choose for Your Floor?

At first, choosing a flooring option seems straightforward: you love the luxurious look of a hardwood floor and want to put it in your dining room, living room and maybe a bedroom or two. But which type of wood should you choose?

In reality, not all hardwood flooring is the same. Some species of hardwoods are lighter or darker than others, for example. Most hardwoods are durable, but others are particularly susceptible to dings and scratches. Also consider the “character” of the wood: do you want each slab to have a uniform grain, or are knots and growth rings welcome additions?

Here’s a nifty list to help you quickly compare and contrast common species of hardwood.

  • Oak is one of the most popular options for hardwood floors due to its resistance to wear and tear and its unmistakable grain patterns, in which you can clearly see the growth rings of the tree.
  • Walnut has a beautiful chocolate color that gives any room a touch of warmth and sophistication. It is relatively soft and therefore easily scratched, but most blemishes aren’t noticeable due to its deep color.
  • Hickory is renowned for its extreme durability. Hickory floors hold up well to patterns of heavy use, so go ahead and create that hardwood foyer, hallway or kitchen you’ve always wanted!
  • Cherry tends to have a uniform grain, which gives it a very refined, polished look in the home. It is also one of the darker hard woods, and gets even darker over time. Cherry is one hardwood that requires a lot of maintenance because it can be scratched quite easily, which makes it suitable for low-traffic areas like a guest bedroom.
  • Maple is one of the lightest-colored hardwoods available. Don’t be tempted to try to darken maple with a deep stain; it holds light stains the best. However, maple is incredibly durable and is perfect for high-traffic areas thanks to its natural resistance to dents and scrapes.
  • Ash typically is a light-colored wood with a semi-obvious grain pattern, but the color and grain of the wood can vary. Some homeowners prefer the eclectic mix of patterns and shades of an ash floor.

Ultimately, choosing a hardwood floor comes down to personal preference. Do you want the wood (regardless of stain) to be light or dark? Does it need to be resistant to scratches, or will it be protected by an area rug or located out of the way of foot traffic? Do you want the wood grain to be uniform in appearance, or are “character spots” of interest to you?

Regardless of which hardwood species you choose, knowing how to keep the wood well-maintained will prolong its life and give you the most satisfaction out of your purchase. For example, the best vacuum for hardwood floors does not have a high-speed roller brush, which is only meant for carpet and can damage the stain on wooden floors. Roller brushes that operate at low-speed can be suitable for hardwood floors, but if you use this type of vacuum, inspect the stain regularly for signs of increased wear.

Regular cleaning, polishing and, when needed, sanding and staining will keep your hardwood floor in tip-top shape, looking as beautiful as the day it was installed.

Cathy HabasThis article was written by Cathy Habas for Hutbay Blog. Cathy is a professional freelancer who loves writing informative and interesting articles on interior design and home renovation.

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