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Wood Species

Wood Species

Hello! And welcome back to the second installment of, 

What type of hardwood flooring should I buy?” 

I’m your host, Austin Barrett, and today we’re talking about: Species. Just like anything else when it comes to making a decision, there seems to be too many options and it can get overwhelming FAST. But here at, we’re here to help so keep reading and learn what species of hardwood might be right for you and your floors. 






The Journal of Sustainable Forestry has identified over 60,000 species of tree, but which are right for hardwood flooring? First of all, it’s important to make the distinction between Hardwood and Softwood. Though there are exceptions, Hardwood is generally...well, harder. It is more likely to be found in furniture, decks, construction that needs to last a long time, and Flooring. However, this is not an overall generalized rule by any means. Pine, which is considered a Softwood, is used for most of the residential construction all over the world due to its growth speed and dense, durable nature. 

In the early 1900’s, a reliable method was developed for determining the hardness of any given species of wood, called the Janka Hardness Test, or the Janka Scale of Hardness. This test measures how much force (in pounds of pressure) it takes to sink a steel ball into the test subject. The more pounds of force needed, means the harder the wood. Some of the more common types of wood used for flooring are shown on the Janka Scale below: 


Now let’s do a deep dive into some of the more popular Species of Wood that we tend to find in people’s homes, and discuss some of the benefits of each. 

White Oak and Red Oak

Janka Rating - 1290-1360

The Oaks are far and away the most popular Species of Wood we find in people’s hardwood flooring. This is probably due to the vast accessibility of Oaks, especially in the Americas, as well as the dependable durability. When manufacturers find a type of wood that’s relatively easy to find, mill, and manufacture, plus it has all the benefits that the customer wants, we can expect to see it everywhere - and we do! 


Deciding between Red Oak and White Oak is a decision that rarely a customer can and should make for themselves. When it comes to the look and feel of these species, they’re almost indistinguishable. The only differences we find between the two that could be notable to the client is their ability to take on different colors of stain. Because of the Red Oak’s natural pink hues, it can be hard to match stains with White Oak Stair Treads or existing beams within your home. 


Janka Rating - 1820

Hickory is among the strongest and most durable woods that is native to North America. 



If you’re someone who appreciates a high degree of color difference throughout wood grain, then you’ll absolutely adore a Hickory floor. Some people may consider the look of Hickory to be a bit “busy”, so don’t consider Hickory floors unless you want some of your guest’s attention to go straight to the grain!


Janka Rating - 1450

Maple’s light color, durability, and consistent grain pattern make it a household favorite. 


With these types of qualifiers (consistent grain, light color), you’d expect a wide variety of stains and color types possible, but Maple doesn’t accept stains well, and contractors tend to have a difficult time achieving uniformity. So, it is recommended that Maple be kept to a more natural finish. Expect its light color and uniform grain to lighten up any dark room. You won’t find many sharp contrasts in the color of Natural Maple, especially in select cuts, like you would in other species like Oak or Hickory. 


Janka Rating - 1010

The Walnut Tree is another that is indigenous to North America. Although its Janka Rating is lower than other species found in this list, Walnut is known for its density and resistance to decay. 


In terms of its look and feel, Walnut gives the warmth and comfort of a dark leather. Pair this flooring with a lighter-colored wall to complete the modern look of the room, or put this flooring in your office to give an incredibly regal and vintage look and feel. 


Janka Rating - 1300-5000+

Recently, Cali Bamboo (popular flooring brand) tested their Fossilized Bamboo flooring line and it achieved a score of over 5,000 on the Janka Scale - far outperforming any other flooring in the world. 


Is your floor heavily trafficked by dogs, children, or entertaining guests? Maybe it’s time to consider the durability of Bamboo. Additionally, using Bamboo can help stop deforestation around the world, as Bamboo is a highly renewable resource. 

Final Thoughts

Clearly, there’s a lot to think about when purchasing wood floors! The main takeaway from this article should be the hardness test, and what you may need for your home. A house full of dogs, for example, should consider a harder flooring - especially if you don’t like refinishing scratches every year or two!!

But mainly, we want you to LOVE your floors! That’s why looks are king. If you only focus on the Janka Test, you might end up with a floor that’s nice and durable, but you hate the look of them!

Thanks for reading. Have more questions? 

Give us a shout Here

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