Guide to Types of Hardwood Floors

Hardwood is one of the oldest flooring material that is still among the most desirable. If you think of using hardwood for your floors, you can’t go wrong. All the different types of hardwood floors have unmatched beauty, and it goes with any décor, whether your style is classic, modern, contemporary, traditional, country, or anything. It easily complements the interior design and adds value to your home. It’s among the most common choice for residential flooring. Here’s to guide you into the different types of hardwood floors.

Solid vs. Engineered

Before you select a piece of hardwood, you have to understand the pros and cons of solid and engineered hardwood floors. Read on so you can be informed.

1. Solid wood

Solid hardwood flooring is all wood and is milled from a single piece of wood. It simply is a set of solid planks of wood. Because it’s reliable, it can be refinished as many times as possible. It’s a premier flooring option for homes, and because of its durable, natural material, it can be expensive. However, it’s best utilized in areas of lower traffic, such as formal dining rooms and sitting rooms, because it can develop gaps if wood contracts. The hardwood can also swell and create a cupped depression along the center of the board if exposed to high humidity.

2. Engineered hardwood

Meanwhile, engineered hardwood floors are made of multiple thin layers, such as a veneer of real hardwood glued to several layers of wood underneath, such as plywood, compressed wood, resin, and polymers. It has the benefit of being able to withstand busy areas of the home because it’s designed to take a beating. It also gives the floor excellent stability over time. Depending on the thickness of the hardwood veneer, it can only be refinished and sanded once or twice its lifetime.

Finished vs. Unfinished

You also have to consider the type of finish for the wood. Before, solid hardwood is installed unfinished, and the installer will simply apply a finish coat or stain to protect the surface. But now, hardwood flooring is also available as a pre-finished product, so you only need to get it installed. But what are the benefits to finished and unfinished wood? Read on here.

1. Unfinished wood

In the past, unfinished wood is typically installed in homes, and then, it’s sanded, stained or finished on the site. It can take days before the task is completed, and it entails a mess and potentially toxic VOCs and fumes. But, it means lower material costs. Plus, it can be a smoother flooring option, because it’s installed and sanded on the site – meaning there will be no board-height discrepancy. It also allows for more customization when it comes to colors.

2. Finished

Finished wood floors have higher initial material costs because it comes from the factory, already sealed and sanded. Since no staining or finishing is needed, there are no VOCs or odors on the site, and the floor is ready to be walked on after installation. It comes with manufacturer warranties, which are often against defects in finish and stain.

Hardwood Species

Now that you’re aware of the two significant things to consider when choosing hardwood floors, you can begin to choose woods based on hardness, color tones, and wood grain patterns. The Janka hardness scale is today’s industry standard for measuring the hardness of the wood. The higher the rating number, the harder the wood is.


This is a popular hardwood type in North America, and it is an option that’s highly-resistant to deep scratches and dents. It’s great for those who don’t want to use area rugs. It’s typically found in two types:

  • White oak – It’s a lighter flooring option with gray undertones. This is a sturdy, dent-resistant wood that comes in at 1335on the Janka scale, making it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas. It offers an elegant effect on the home, which is suitable for many interior design styles.
  • Red oak – When you’re looking for an excellent hardwood option, red oak is always a safe one. It’s a darker kind of wood that adds character to your interiors, and its warm tones range in colors – from creamy pink to golden red to rusty brown. It comes with graceful, swirly patterns and tends to vary slightly in colors. It has a Janka rating of 1290, making it well-suited for most of your flooring needs.


Hickory is a super durable wood with a Janka rating of 1820. This makes it ideal for high-traffic zones – in fact, it was a popular flooring of choice in the past for school gymnasium floors. This kind of hardwood is more common in rustic or log homes. It features mocha-tones that range from creamy beige to warm browns and dark browns. Because of its close grain that has no substantial figure, it can go well with most interior design styles.


Walnut has a deep, rich, classic chocolate tones that can make your home shine. It’s sturdy and durable, with a Janka rating of 1010, making it suitable for medium-to-light traffic areas. It can be used for high-traffic areas, though it may show wear and tear after a few years. The colors of walnut vary from light to dark chocolate brown. The American black walnut is slightly coarser and darker in color than European walnut. Since color variations vary slightly from board to board, then you can use it if you’re looking for a consistent look.


Maple is another durable hardwood choice, as it ranks 1450 on the Janka hardness scale. Its grain is so hard – that’s why it’s often used for bowling alleys. When used in the home, you are sure that it can last for a lifetime. Its colors range from light cream, beige, tan, and sometimes offer a slightly reddish tint. Maple wood has a beautiful grain pattern, with occasional dark specks and streaks that can add interest to the wood. It can complement many interior styles, including transitional, contemporary, and eclectic.


Cherry is a type of wood that darkens as it ages. Its smooth grain pattern and warm brown hues are prized by many. To showcase the beauty of its grain patterns, consider installing wide cherry flooring plants that are up to 8 inches. It can produce a great finish, and it’s easy to maintain, but it can also be easily scratched because it’s slightly softer than some hardwoods. Cherry ranks 950 on the Janka scale, so it’s ideal only for lower-traffic spots like formal dining rooms and bedrooms.


Mahogany is prized for its color and beauty. Besides flooring, it’s used for many applications, such as furniture, boats, and musical instruments. Mahogany has different species, such as genuine mahogany, African mahogany, and Santos mahogany. These types of mahogany vary significantly in hardness, but it’s the Santos mahogany that is used for flooring applications because it ranks 2,200 on the Janka scale. Santos mahogany is the hardest of North American woods. It’s a highly durable, water-resistant hardwood when used as flooring.


If you want to brighten up a dark room, add a light-colored floor like ash. This robust wood, which has a hardness score of 1,320 on the Janka scale, is preferred by many property owners who like hardwood. It has the ability to take the wear and tear with ease. It comes with white dots in the darker summerwood, making it look different from hickory.


Birch is a sturdy wood that provides a neutral floor, allowing it to go with practically any furniture or décor. It’s a no-brainer choice if you want to be safe with your hardwood floor of choice. It has a hardness score of 1,260 on the Janka scale, making it suitable flooring material for most rooms in the house. 

There are so many great flooring options for a home in so many different budgets.  Be sure to check out options for buy now pay later flooring as well.