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Solid, engineered, prefinished, unfinished, maple, oak, bamboo… when it comes to hardwood the options are numerous. Here’s a quick introductory guide to the types of hardwood floors. 

School’s out, the sun is shining…that must mean summer is here! Summer is a wonderful time for a renovation because the weather’s great and life is a bit more relaxed. If you’re considering upgrading to hardwood floors this summer, then this article is for you. Hardwood is a great flooring option, especially if you have kids or pets. It cleans well and can easily be refinished which allows it to last for decades. In this article, we’ll give you a rundown of the most popular types of hardwood so you can choose which one will be right for you. 

Hardwood Species /Types 

    1. Bamboo – Technically, this isn’t hardwood but it falls into the category. Bamboo floors are made from the bamboo grass. Harder than most regular hardwoods, it is usually available in 2 shades: a natural light-colored tint or it can be boiled (aka carbonized) for a darker look.
      Price: $2/sf – $7/sf
    2. Maple – This is one of the most durable hardwoods. Maple is often used in bowling alleys, which means it has the capability to stand up well in high traffic areas.
      Price: $6/sf – $14/sf
    3. Pine – Here’s another example of a hardwood that isn’t really that. Pine is actually a “softwood” which means it’s more susceptible to dents and scratches. Pine is one of the more affordable hardwood options and because of its distinct grain pattern, it tends to age really well.
      Price: $4/sf – $6/sf
    4. Rosewood – If you’re looking for a hardwood with more color diversity, rosewood is it. This hardwood can range from yellow to purple and has some of the most unique grain patterns. While it is relatively new to the flooring scene, rosewood has been used in furniture making for decades.
      Price:  $5/sf – $10/sf
    5. Brazilian Cherry – Also known as Jatoba. This is an extremely hard wood that often has a very rich burgundy color. It’s durability makes it great for high-traffic areas.
      Price: $4/sf – $9/sf
    6. Cherry – Cherry has a pink hue that darkens as it ages. While not as strong as the Brazilian cherry species, cherry hardwood still adds a touch of elegance to any room in which it is installed. Cherry is easy to scratch and will show sun damage if installed in direct sunlight, but it can be refinished multiple times.
      Price: $3/sf – $8/sf
    7. Walnut – Walnut carries one of the heftier price tags for hardwood, but duly so. It is extremely durable, ranging from light to dark chocolate brown in color. There are a few different species of wood, but the result is usually a dark, exotic looking wood that’s great for high-traffic areas and homes with children/pets.
      Price: $4/sf – $9/sf
    8. Oak – Oak is one of the most timeless species of hardwood. This type of wood is highly resistant to wear and tear, scratches or dents and is available in a variety of colors.
      Price: $3/sf – $14/sf
    9. Mahogany – Mahogany is another hardwood that tends to get better with age. One of the more elegant looking hardwoods, mahogany is also water-resistant and often carries a price tag to reflect.
      Price: $8/sf – $14/sf
    10. Hickory – Hickory is popularly used for log homes or in a rustic setting. Hickory is great for homeowners who expect their floors to undergo decades of high foot traffic. It is believed that hickory can go well with any type of decor, which makes it a great choice for families with lots of children.
      Price: $3/sf – $6/sf
    11. Ash – Similar to hickory, Ash is one of the lighter hardwoods and it’s very durable. Ash has white dots in the darker summerwood that makes it distinguishable from hickory. Ash is one of the less expensive hardwoods while also being one of the hardest hardwoods.
      Price: $7/sf – $18/sf
    12. Lyptus – Lyptus isn’t as common as other hardwoods but it is often mistaken for mahogany, while being ,much less expensive. Lyptus is durable and has an exotic look that allows it to warm rooms and flow well in both small and large spaces.
      Price: $5/sf – $11/sf

Hardwood Floor Colors and Finishes 

Hardwood colors aren’t really customizable, generally it depends on the species of wood. However, the finish used can slightly alter the color. There are a variety of hardwood finishes available, so here’s a rundown of some of the most popular ones:

  • Oil based finish: A common choice for commercial spaces, there’s a drying time of about 8-10 hours between coats of oil-based polyurethane. This finish is quite durable and tends to turn a yellow or amber color with age.
  • Water based finish: More expensive than oil-based finishes, this one has a drying time of only 2-4 hours between coats. 
  • Moisture-cured polyurethane: This type of finish is extremely durable and cures by absorbing moisture vapor from the air. This finish is a little on the expensive side and tends to amber with age. 
  • Penetrating oil / sealer: This type of finish penetrates the wood and fills the pores to create a durable seal. This finish tends to turn amber after time and is extremely durable. The drying time between coats is usually between 24 – 48 hours.
  • Acid-cured / Swedish finishes: this is one of the most durable types of floor finishes. It takes about two hours to dry in between coats, and takes up to 60 days to fully cure.
  • Wax: Before the advent of polyurethane finishes, wax was the common choice. This finish gets absorbed into the pores of the wood to give it extra durability, but it’s vulnerable to water damage.
  • Shellac: This is usually used together with wax. Shellac is used as the base coat and wax is applied over it. 
  • Varnish: Before polyurethane, varnish was another common way to finish floors. This finish makes floors look clear or slightly amber and is very durable. 
  • UV floor finishes: Often used in places where there isn’t much time available for drying/curing, UV curing technology, used in conjunction with UV floor finishes, cure the floor instantly. This type of finish is very resistant to mechanical and chemical abrasion.
  • Acrylic impregnated finish: This finish is injected directly into the floors to create a seal that is extremely durable. Mostly used in commercial settings, they stand up well in areas with heavy foot traffic. 

How It’s Made

There’s no hard and fast rule for how hardwood is made, but it usually falls into one of the two following categories:

Solid wood

Solid wood floors are constructed of planks made from a single piece of wood with tongue and groove edges. These planks can be unfinished or factory prefinished. Manufacture starts by cutting the tree into logs. Based on the quality of the tree, it will be marked for either flooring, furniture or otherwise. Trees marked for flooring are chosen for natural beauty with tight grain and few knots. The lucky floor logs are then cut into rough planks.

Engineered

Engineered wood floors go through a different manufacturing process than solid wood. Engineered wood flooring is made of layers. It’s constructed by gluing together about 5- 7 layers of plywood, with a layer of real wood at the top and bottom. 

Truth be told, there aren’t many ways to go wrong with hardwood floors. You might still be asking which hardwood floors are the best value, but there isn’t any one definite answer to that question. Your lifestyle and personal preference will play a big role in the type of hardwood you choose but no matter what you go with, hardwood flooring is sure to add value to your home and improve resale value. If you need a professional team to install your floors, or to refinish them, reach out to hardwood floor pros at NewGen Restores