Hardwood Flooring – The Ultimate Buying Guide


Hardwood flooring can be costly. And we want to make you easy to pick just the right hardwood flooring for your interior.

However, hardwood flooring is cool and warmth. The touch of wood in a house add calm yet welcoming ambiance. So, using wood as flooring is agreat choice.

Hardwood Flooring Types

Choosing hardwood flooring can be intimidating. But also can be so simple by just choosing the right texture and design.

However, for You who want to know more about what ro consider when choosing hardwoord flooring, lets dig deeper.

  • Solid Hardwood Flooring

It is the pure hardwoord planks. The pure wood cut and formed as wooden plank. That simple.


As natural wood, solid hardwood carries its natural beauty. It is warmth, relaxing and charming. No matter the wood species you may choose.

Hardwood flooring also is durable. We just need to install it and maintain the flooring as directed. And, the wood keeps the interior warmth and charming for a lifetime.


Susceptible yo moisture damage. Well, better not use this kind of hardwood in places where humidity is high.

  • Engineered Hardwood

engineered hardwood flooring

This wood is made of several layers of wood. These are pressed together with the real hardwood is on top and bottom of the plank.

This engineered hardwood is m,ore resistsnt to moisture. Humidity won’t make the wood contract and expand with negative result.

And, it is worth to note that, engineered hardwood is different from laminate wood flooring.

Wood Species

There are dozens of dozens wood species are used to make hardwood flooring. Some species grown in USA while other species are imported from anywhere in the world.

  • Cherry

cherry wood flooring

There are several cherry wood which are now used for flooring. The most popular would be American cherry. The color from this wood is red with pink hues.

Cherry however, is know as soft wood. But it can maintain dimensional integrity pretty well when used as wood flooring.

As the cost, this wood is known at the lower end. It is not sun resistant and can fade when installed under direct sun for prolonged period. ( multiple years ).

  • Walnut

dark walnut wood flooring

Walnut is another popular and soft wood species. In America, it is common to find American Walnut as wood flooring.

However, dining room is not a good place for walnut flooring. This is the place where chairs slide back and forth regulary.

However, it has great sun resistance and can be used in rooms with year round direct sunlight.

Although soft, Walnut is not cheap. Instead, walnut is among the most expensive hardwoord flooring available. It is light and can be used for upper storage as well.

  • Oak

Oak has classic look and pretty bright color. It is warmth and is good for home in traditional style. The Oak is populer in 2 options. red Oak and white oak. The red Oak is reddish and the white Oak is pale brown with light gray or pink combination.

Red Oak


White Oak

White-Oak-hardwood-flooring homedepot

Both oak has midrange hardenness. It can withstand high impact but vulnerable to scrapping. If we are abut to use oak wood for flooring, we also can use furniture pads on all heavy furniture.

  • Maple

maple wood flooring by lumber liquidators

It is a light-colored wood flooring. The appeal is distinc to other hardwood flooring materials.  Moreover, the texture is also wonderful and uniform.

The best trait that it has, the mapple wood is impact resistant, scrath and scuff resistant too. At least, not easily damaged by heavy furniture.

This wood is great choice too with its low maintenance feature. We can use the floor with pet and not to worry about the pet damaging or scratching the wood floor.

We can make stain on the wood to mimic other wood species. But it has to be done with proper seal. If not, the stain can go blotchy.

Oh, yeah, almost forget. Maple wood flooring is affordable. Yes, affordable but strong and quite scratch resistant.

  • Hickory

hickory wood flooring design ideas type

As the hardest wood native to USA, this is one of the few hard and strong wood flooring materials. This wood is extremely strong. That said, it lasts a lifetime and suffers only minor wear and tear. If properly maintained.

The color is usually medium tan to brown. Also, cream color is less available.It is just a perfect wood for log cabins and rustic style houses.

As for the durability, it is good for family with children and pet. It is durable  and is hard. This hardness is its biggest advantage yet the biggest weakness it has too. It is difficult to cut the wood and the installation cost can be higher than installation for other wood flooring materials.

And for the price of the Hickory wood itself, it is priced at above avarage of other woods.

  • Ash

Ash wood flooring

Ash is preffered for upscale house since its chic style is appreciated. The color is quite white but with some dark combination. Maybe, one of the best character that it has is, its grain.

This texture is so natural and feels warmth in any room.

The hardness is medium. It is still soft enough to walk on barefoot. But, also can withstand heavy traffic too.

This Ash wood does well taking variety stain but it gets dirty easier than other wood. Its light color causes this.

  • Douglas Fir

douglas fir wood flooring altruwood

This Douglas Fir is known for its uniform pattern. The pattern is almost identical to other planks so it is easy to install considering the appearance.

The color of the wood itself is orange to brown. The grain is straight and thoughout. The appearance as a whole is, rustic.

The tree, the Douglas fir itself is a tall tree. So, we could find long wooden flooring boards if needed.


It is a very soft wood and can damage easily without proper maintenance.

The price:

Below avarage wood flooring price. But not much.

  • Teak


teak wood flooring houzz

Teak wood is known for its very durable character. Old teak tree can produce very strong teak wood that doesn’t easily root in various weather for years. It is the wood to be used in most heavy traffic area full with heavy furniture,kids’ trafic and pets.

  • Birch


birch wooden floor by lumber liquidators

It is a light-colored wood flooring with attractive-looking grain. It looks warmth and wonderful in any room. And as its creamy color, the lightness of the color makes the room feels bright for the owners.

The good thing about birch wood is, the number is abundant. The tree is anywhere making production easy. This wood also holds stain easily and can be stained with variety of color. The price is not quite expensive.


The wood is very light and soft. It dents and scratches easily. Also, the wood expands and contracts with the difference of temperature and humidity. So, use birch wood flooring in areas with limited moisture.

  • Pine


Pine has a long way in history as wood flooring material. It has distictive risch color and grain pattern. Also, the pinholes and knots are really interesting.

This wood ages pretty quickly in a few years. The appearance is more interesting when aged than when new.

The pine tree is a fast growing tree. So, pine wood flooring is abundance. It is enviromentally friendly and the price is affordable.


It is very soft, dents and scrates quite easy. So, we need more time for maintenance.

Red Pine

Red-pine-hardwood-floor-example color texture

White Pine


  • Mahogany


Mahogany is imported wood from warmer countries like Mexico. The color is dark and has strong, deep pattern.

The price is sure expensive since the wood needs to be imported. But, Mahogany wood floor is durable and hard.

  • Brazilian Tigerwood

Brazilian-tigerwood-example-dark brown

Brazilian tigewood has Janka Rating of 2,160. It is very hard but yes, expensive. ( It is harder than teak wood ).

  • Alder

Alder-wood-flooring-colors and textures patterns

This type of wood is the softer alternative to Cherry or Maple. Some of the famous names are Red Alder, Oregon Alder, Pacisif Coast Alder and Western Alder.

The tree was once considered as nuisance tree by loggers. Especially those who work around Pacific Northwest.

But, some furniture maker found its use and the tree becomes useful. Even those who dislike it now encourage to grow this species.

The color is tan to reddish brown. The texture is straight grain patterns and can accept stains.

The cost is around $3 to $6 for every square foot. The installation charge is also around $3 to $5.

  • Beech

Beech-wood-flooring-board example color and texture

Beech is wood that originally is from Asia, parts of Europe and Eastern USA. This is a slow growing hardwood can grown up to 100 to 130 ft. The trunk also is quite large with 3 to 5 ft trunk diameter. The tree can live upt to 400 years and is pretty disease resistant.

Thisa wood normally has pale cream color with pink or brown hues. The grain is straigth and is medium in size. This wood is pretty hard and fits for durable flooring.

  • Ebony Hardwood Flooring


This wood is very hard. The Janka scale is 3080 which is 3X the hardness of teak wood.

These days, Ebony wood is rarity since the harvesting is done more than the replanting.

The black ( pure black ) Ebony is the most desired wood. It can be obtained from tree that is more than 150 years old.

This Ebony wood is so dense making this wood submerged under water. It won’t float because its density and is sure not a great wood for making boat.

This wood however, is expensive since it is rare. About 40% to 60% higher in price than Burma Teak, which is already costly.

usually, this wood also finds its use in carvings / arts. Some types of the wood has pretty deep vein running deep through the frain. With its deep red color, the wood becomes so interesting as artwork when polished.

  • Poplar

Poplar-wood-flooring-design types

This poplar ususally is know as yellow Poplar and Tulip Poplar. The tree is high and huge and grows up to 130 to 160 fet.

The trunk diamater can reach 6 ft up to 8 ft. This tree is the state tree for Kentucky,  Tennessee and Indiana.

Other use of this wood is for pallets. So, you know that this is a prety soft wood. The color of the wood is light cream to yellowish brown. The streaks are gray or green. This poplar wood is considered to be one of the cheapest, softest wood that is easily painted.

Thanks to its versatility, Poplar can be used  with any interior decoration. The price, start sfrom $1,49 per sq ft and comes with $3 to $5 Installation free.

  • Acacia


The patterns of the woold is just amazing with some dark spots. The color is dark and the janka score is 1700.

  • Bamboo

Bamboo-flooring-example-color and textures and type

Bamboo is easy to get material. It is also almost entirely green.The plant can grow almost anywhere in warmth countries. From riverside to other type of land.

However, the Janka sco e in p0retty high at 1380. The price is around $2.00 to $3.00 per square ft.

And as for the color, bamboo tends to have bright color.

  • Cork

colors comparison of of-hardwood-flooring

Cork is a hardwood flooring material with darker brown color than bamboo. This kind of flooring is for calm and peaceful interior.

The price for the cork is $1.00 to $4.00 per sq foot.

  • Cypress

Cypress-wood-flooring-knots colors and textures

Cypress is a species which is naturally resistant to termites.The wood machines well, planes easily as well as wraping resistance. Also, it can be used in any climate. So, it can fit a home in Alaska as well as a home in Florida. It is hard with Janka score at 1360 ( Australian Cypress ).

  • Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus-hardwood-flooring-example-color-and pattern

This hardwood flooring is not quite expensive and comes with darker brown color than average wood color. Eucalyptus is a tree that can be harvested in 3 to 5 years. So, sustainability issue may be not too much of a concern. The tree is easily renewable material.

Other good things are, it can be 20% harder than Northern red oak. Also, Eucalyptus wood degrades less than Oak wood. The Janka score? abut 4000 or very high.

Price per square foot would be $3.00 to $6.00.

  • Pecan


Pecan is a hardwood with high score on Janka hardness test. It is quite difficult to put nail on it. But, screw may work better.

Another thing to remember, the wood naturally contains high moisture. It can shrink when the moisture dry. So, Drying pecan wood is necesarry although the drying process can be considerably long.

  • Cedar


Cedar is wood with aromatic smell. The wood is popular in home and ship building. It is good for its durability. It can resist pests and decay and can be a good investment in wood flooring.

Hardwood Floor Colors

  • Wooden Floor’ Colors Comparison

There are some color differences between these woods:


Wood Hardness Scale Wood Janka

To get wood flooring type doesn’t depend only on hardness. But, as a rule of thumb, use wood flooring with hardness more than 1500 in Janka scor. And the wood would be really durable.

However, some of the wood here can be so hard but brittle as well. Making the wood less ideal for home construction with dynamic load during earthquake.


Other Hardwood Flooring Designs

  • Style

There are two options for the wood flooring. Site-finished and pre-finished.

The pre-finished is sure ready boards that we can just apply to the floor. No sanding and other finishing needed anymore.

Site-finished hardwood flooring may requires more jobs to do. But it has some advantages over the pre-finished hardwood flooring. If not, why would any person buy it in the first place?

The biggest advantage would be the type of finish you can apply to the wood floor. It can be so many options to get very custom look out of your hardwood flooring.

However, the pre-finished wood floor is done in factory. The warranty can be as long as 5 years to 35 years.

As for site-finished wood flooring, the warranty is only 3 years to 5 years.

  • Dimensions

wood flooring thickness sizes diagram table

There are strips and planks of wood flooring. The strips, jus as the name suggest, is a strip. It is less than 3 inches wide.

Planks in the other hand is wider than 3 inches.

We need to match the wide of the board with the size of the room. Wider board for wider room and vice versa.

As for thickness, most boards are about 3/4 inch or 5/16 inch.

  • Color

simple wood flooring color guide

Well, choosing wood floor can be made based on the wood species or the color and pattern. Maybe some people want wood with special character. Or, with some special design.

Hardwood colors are mostly come from the original colors. The colors  can change if exposed to direct sunlight. Also, adding glossy look can also prevent scratch better.

  • Textures

There are some famous textures for hardwood flooring. Smaaoth texture, distressed, wire brushed and hand-scraped textures.

Besides adding style to the flooring, textures also  add feels to the foot.

  • Gloss

Adding glossy look can also prevent scratch better.

  • Grade

wood flooring grade

There are a few options for grade. There’s clear grade with minimal knot and cleaner appearance for modern home interior. As cabin interior, cleaner appearance 8is not desired. We better use knots and streaks and with some color variations. It can be rustic if we want too.

  • Edge Detail

wood floor guide

Usually, it is not quite noticable. But can add some charming detail too.

There are optios for edge details like eased, beveled, micro beveled and square.

Beveled edge as the name suggest, creates emphasize on each individual board. But square edge as the opposite, exudes seamless appearance.


More Details about installation of wood flooring.

Overall Home and Interior Design

Basically, we choose our type or specification of the wood flooring.

Choosing wood floor species in a room depends on 2 things usually. The design as a whole and the use of the wood floor.

The wood floor should match the design of the furniture and the entire room. Including color, textures and others.

As for the usage, we can ask ourself whether the furniture in the room is heavy. Do children often play in the room. Or, do pets ususlly enter the room. Also, consider the traffic in the room too.

Other Considerations

There are some other considerations here regarding wood flooring.

  • Insulation

The choose for hardwoord flooring has big impact on insulation, for both sound and temperature in the room.

  • Durability

Some species of hardwoord withstand abuse better than other. Some are also sunlight resistant while some others are not.Factory-built, or pre-finished hardwoord lasts longer than site-finished hardwood flooring.

  • Extra Flooring

We need to order 10% more wood flooring boards than the size of the room.

At some points, we cut the wood and some cut are wasted. so, purchasing wooden floor boards within the size of the room is not good.

  • Expansion Space

We need to spare some spa at the perimeter to allow the wood to expand or contract. At times with high humidity, wood expands. When the time is dry, wood contracts. We need to make sure that the expanding process is not destructive.

Care and Maintenance

As other materials, we need to maintain our hardwood floor. Some hardwood only eed sweeping and mopping. But other wood floorings need resanding and restaining after some years.

Cost and Budget

Hardwood prices are vary significantly. The cost factor would be the size, type and sizes. Also, there are certain species which are rare or difficult to get. Some others are just expensive to import from distant countries like Teak wood.

The cost for the professional installation also can vary depending on the experience and the difficulty od the installation. Rooms with fireplace, stairs or closet may be e little bit more expensive to install. Soft hardwood like pine can cost around $3 to $6 per sq ft to install. The installation cost would be around $3 to $5 per sq ft. However, more expensive hardwood also tend to be more difficult. One factor is its hardness. It is more difficult to put nails on it.

As a general guide, teak wood costs $8 to $14 per sq ft depending the quality of the wood.

And as for the installation, it costs $4 to $8 per sq ft to install.

Most midrange hardwood, cann cost between $3 to $10 per sq ft for the material. The installation cost is similar at $3 to $10 per sq ft.


As for popularity, hardwood flooring is popular. Many would choose hardwood flooring over carpeting. Although carpet could be more affordable.

The most popular spaces to use wood floor are around places like kitchen, foyers, living room, home office and dining room.

Shades of Light Hardwood

Shades of light wood colors include white to beige to light gray.

White Oak

white-oak-color range

This wood flooring is harder than red Oak. Highly recommended for room with high traffic.

Red Oak

red-oak-color range

As the name suggest, the color is reddish and has stains complemented with varying hues.

Yellow Birch

The wood is as hard as red oak.The colors wears out beautifully.


ash-hardwood flooring color range

Harder than Oak. Plenty colors and grains available. Stains are also beautiful.


beech-hardwood flooring color range

The colors range from pale white to reddish brown. The grain and grade look simple and consistent.

Hickory / Pecan

hickory-pecan-hardwood flooring color range

Hickory is the hardest USA native wood species. It is heavy and very strong. It looks rustic with knots and sap pocket. The colors range from simple white to reddish brown.


red-maple-hardwood flooring color range

Is one of the hardest wood flooring materials.


Bamboo_Species hardwood flooring color range

Bamboo is lightweight and has small texture and linear grain. The colors range from pale yellow to brownish yellow.

Types of Dark hardwood Flooring Materials


Can create dramatic look. The coilor is like dark chocolate brown with some purple combination.


Wenge is know for its dark color. Aged wenge is even darker. This wood is for bold wood accent.


Dark brown to violet and has black tinge. It is a hard wood for flooring.


This wood is a great wood flooring material. The wood is dense and hard. Also, it is resistant to decay. The color is dark red brown and is best when it is polished.


This wood is expensive because it is termite and decay resistance. The colors of its heartwood range from dark golden brown to lighter dark golden yellow. Also, we can findone with rich yellow color but but dark brown steaks. The wood has natural oil that termites hate. Also, it smells like leather whe it is freshly cut.

This is our extensive list of wood flooring. Have a nice decorating and good luck!

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