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Selecting a Hardwood Species for Flooring

Now that you have decided to install hardwood floors, the question is, “what wood species do I want?” There are so many different types of wood species that it can get overwhelming to select. If you prefer planks that have fewer grains or have a red tone rather than a yellow tone then you would look at what species match those preferences. If you don’t already know, there’s a Janka Hardness Scale, this scale shows you how much weight the species can hold. A good range is anything over 1000 pounds.



One of the most common domestic hardwood species in the USA is Oak. This species is suitable for homes with pets and kids because the strong grains hide flooring dents and scratches. The two most common floors are white oak and red oak, it usually gets their name because of the bark color. Red oak has pink undertones with some light pink hues, while white oak has a gray to a golden brown color and is harder than red oak.


Pine floors are one of the most eco-friendly flooring options because it’s relatively easy to grow. These floors are usually in older homes, attics, or in the historic districts. Three main pine floors are heart pine, eastern white, and southern yellow. Heart pine is the most knotty pine species and its swirly grains are noticeable. Southern yellow pine has a range of hues from deep reds to orange and yellow. They’re installed mainly to minimize the appearance of wear and tear on their floors. Eastern white pine is more susceptible to minor surface damage such as scratches. These floors are usually found in colonial homes in New England and have been the oldest wood used in America.


Maple planks have a natural creamy color that’s lighter than oak floors. It may contain minimal to a lot of brownish/black mineral streaks. it’s often used for basketball courts because of its shock-absorbing properties. Usually, maple planks are the ones that you should keep its natural color because it is naturally beautiful. However, if you want to stain your floors, the best option to select is whitewash or grey.


According to the Janka Hardness Rating, Hickory is one of the hardest domestic wood species, 1820 rate. Their planks can vary in hues but usually range from creamy whites to medium browns. It can create a rustic look and the grains is often sporadic from plank to plank.


Ash planks are similar to white oak, the only difference is their grains. Although, it’s much pricier than white oak, it’s considered one of the best-engineered wood flooring choices because of its durability.


Birchwood has a particular graining that is generally fine with uniform curls and some boards may appear to have little to no grains. Red birch refers to eh heartwood stock of the birch tree and is a golden brown color with some red undertones. Yellow birch refers to the sapwood of the birch tree, which is a creamy white color with some yellow undertones.



The Jatoba is also known as the Brazilian Cherry, is considered a pest-resistant and super strong species. It has deep reddish to brownish tones and reddish to blonded tones. This floor is one of the most popular choices of exotic wood species. Please note, this is not similar to American Cherry as Brazilian Cherry rates 2350 on Janka Scale and American Cherry rates in 995.


There are different species of bamboo that some are as hard as hardwood trees. This flooring type is considered an eco-friendly flooring type and it’s less expensive than some exotic floors. Based on the Janka scale, bamboo flooring rates at 1650, making it stronger than white oak and maple.


Cumaru is the common name of Brazilian Teak and its rate is 3540. The color for this species ranges from tan to medium brown tones with some reddish highlights. With exposure to light, the color variation can even out a bit, making it become more uniform over time. Their planks show minimal graining but sometimes a small amount of darker graining. This type of wood is best to keep unstained because of its natural oils. Installing wider planks can be difficult due to their resistance to adhesives.

Santos Mahogany

This wood is also known as Cabrueva and is one of the second most popular choices of exotic wood flooring. It rates at 2200 on the Janka scale and its color variation ranges from medium brownish/orange to dark brown. Over time with exposure to sunlight, the color will become richer. Their graining is wavy and incorporates an open pattern.


Ebony flooring is rare, beautiful, and expensive. It is the only natural wood that has a jet black hue. If you find cheap ebony flooring then you found an ebony-stained wood rather than the actual ebony plank. The supply for these beautiful floors is limited and has many restrictions farming it. Ebony is the highest species on the scale rating at 3692.

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