Species Of Wood You Can Use For Hardwood Flooring Explained

Learn about the different specicies of wood available for your hardwood floors.

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There many different types of hardwood species you can use for the flooring of your home.  Below is a list of the most common domestic and exotic woods and their advantages and disadvantages as flooring material.

Domestic Wood Species in the United States


There are two different types of oak flooring that are amongst the most popular and most commonly used of all wood species: Red and White. Red Oak has a higher level of grain and can vary in shade and tone, though it does have a pink undertone, whereas White Oak has a more golden brown color and less variance in color. White Oak also tends to take on a stain more evenly than Red Oak due to its heavier grain. Oak flooring is very resistant to deep scratches and dents and is great for high-traffic areas.


Maple is a good choice for your hardwood floors if you are looking for a consistently toned wood that is lighter in color. Color variations are minimal between boards, and the grain is subtle. Sugar Maple is the hardest type of Maple and therefore the most commonly used for floors, and it is a great choice for a hardwood floor that will last. Maple will give your floors a more modern look rather than classic, as it is very sleek.

American Cherry

American Cherry is a softer wood that offers a wide tonal range and a satin-like finish. It tends to redden with age and it is photosensitive, so it is recommended to wait at least six months before using any area rugs, which will give the wood a chance to darken evenly. Wider planks are the best option with this wood, as it has a high grain and it will look smoother, as opposed to thinner planks that will make the grain look too busy or overwhelming. American Cherry can scratch easily, so routine floor maintenance is important.

American Walnut

American Walnut is a beautiful and sturdy wood, and that means a higher price tag. However, it is a great option for hardwood floors. It is durable and provides a range of brown shades, from light to dark chocolate. Some homeowners do choose to go with Brazilian Walnut, as it is an even harder type of Walnut. American Walnut typically gets lighter over time, which is a factor to consider when choosing the stain of the wood. The grain also tends to have a pretty wide variety, which gives the wood an interesting and classic look. Walnut floors tend to add warmth to a room, and has a richness in color that homeowners love.


Birch is a fine-textured light wood that looks similar to Maple. Yellow Birch and Sweet Birch are the two most commonly used types of birch in flooring, as they are both hard and durable. Birch has a lot of natural color variation, giving floors a great amount of depth. The grain is generally straight and the wood is popular because it is easy to work with, along with looking beautiful in a home. Its light color adds brightness to a room. It is recommended to use a harder variety of birch like Sweet Birch in high-traffic areas such as a living room or kitchen area, while you could use a softer variety like Paper Birch in an area such as a bedroom.


Hickory is a versatile and durable wood that make for great hardwood floors. It is a bit difficult to work with, resulting in a higher cost. Its hardness makes it great for high-traffic areas or homes with kids and pets. It generally has a lot of color variation between boards, making a wider plank a better option. Hickory is a great choice if you’re going for a nice rustic look in your home, and it also takes stain very well, making it incredibly easy to customize your flooring to your taste by choosing a pre-stained hickory.

Yellow Pine

Yellow Pine is a softer species of wood, but it remains a favorite for many homeowners. It offers a lot of character, and its bright, warm butterscotch color brightens up a room. Yellow Pine is fairly durable; it can last quite a long time in a lower-traffic home. These floors will need a bit more care due to its softness, but pads under furniture and area rugs should help mitigate wear and tear. You can also choose a higher-durability finish to help prolong the life of Yellow Pine floors; softwoods rarely come prefinished, giving you the added bonus of being able to customize the look of your floors. Yellow Pine is also pretty water-resistant, and generally comes in a wider plank. It brings a nice country look and rustic charm to a home.


Ash is a highly durable and dense hardwood that lasts for a long time. It looks similar to oak, which both have large, wavy grain patterns and take stain incredibly well. It can vary heavily in color, from pale straw to honey to dark brown. Ash flooring does very well in high-traffic areas of a home, and a testament to its hardness and shock-resistance is the fact that ash is used to make baseball bats! Due to its high grain, ash floors can look a little busy, but they also disguise scrapes and dings better than a lower-grain wood. Ash tends to be a relatively affordable hardwood option. It also performs well in areas with higher humidity.



Beechwood is a great option for hardwood flooring, as it is very resistant to stress and shock. It has a straight, fine grain and an overall even look when installed in a home. Beech is not suitable for high-moisture areas, and is best in climate-controlled areas. Acclimating your wood before installation is incredibly important with Beech. The heartwood tends to have a slightly reddish, warm undertone while the sapwood stays a lighter, pale color. Most buyers opt to keep the wood its natural color rather than stain it, and instead choose a color variation in the planks.


Exotic Wood Flooring Speciess

Brazilian Cherry

Brazilian Cherry is undoubtedly the most popular exotic wood used in hardwood flooring. This is largely due to its durability beautiful color variation. Planks can range from strawberry blonde to deep red and brick brown, and as it is not actually a cherry tree, the flooring gets its name from its color range. Brazilian Cherry is an incredibly hard wood, making it a great and durable choice for flooring, especially in high-traffic homes with kids or pets, but that also means it is difficult to work with and should be installed by a professional. This wood tends to deepen in color with age, adding a rich look to your home.

Australian Cypress

Australian Cypress is a great choice for wood flooring due do its adaptability to many different climates and its natural resistance to termites. It ranges from cream-colored to honey with a large degree of color variation between planks. Its color tends to remain steady over the years, without much darkening. Australian Cypress holds a lot of resin, especially within its knotted structure, so staining and finishing the wood can be difficult as the oils rise to the surface of the wood. It is recommended to go with prefinished cypress flooring to avoid such hassle.


With a dynamic color pattern, Tigerwood makes for a bold and unique choice for hardwood flooring. Because of this, wider planks are recommended to keep floors from looking too busy. The wood generally has an orange-brown hue with dark brown streaking throughout, lending to its name. It is resilient to dents and scratches, and has a natural resistance to fungus, insects, rot, and moisture, which makes it a versatile choice for different climates and activity levels. Over time, Tigerwood’s color will slightly, making the streaking pattern a bit more subtle. Like Australian Cypress, Tigerwood also contains a lot of natural oils, making it more difficult to work with, so professional finishing and installation is recommended.


Working with Steve and his team was a great experience! They did amazing work in my home. I had old carpet removed, new hardwood floors installed and my pine steps refinished. They were always prompt and did a good clean up job. Steve is honest, trustworthy and communicates with you during the whole process. I would highly recommend and use them again!

Marcia Watson

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