How to Select the Best Wood Species for Your Hardwood Flooring

How to Select the Best Wood Species for Your Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is a timeless and elegant choice for homes, adding warmth, character, and value to any space. One of the most crucial decisions when installing hardwood floors is selecting the right wood species. With a wide range of options available, each with its unique characteristics, it's essential to consider various factors to ensure you choose the best wood species for your specific needs and preferences.


Characteristics of wood species

Before diving into specific wood species, it's important to understand the characteristics that differentiate them. Wood species vary in hardness, color, grain pattern, durability, and maintenance requirements. These factors play a significant role in how the flooring will look and perform in your home.


Hardness and durability

One of the primary considerations when choosing a wood species is its hardness and durability. The Janka hardness scale measures the hardness of wood, with higher numbers indicating greater hardness and resistance to wear and tear. For high-traffic areas or homes with pets and children, opt for harder species like oak, maple, or hickory, which can withstand heavy use and minimize scratches and dents.


Color and grain pattern

Wood species also differ in color and grain pattern, offering a range of aesthetic options to complement your interior design. For a classic and timeless look, consider oak with its natural grain variations and warm hues. If you prefer a more contemporary and uniform appearance, maple or birch with their smooth, consistent grain patterns may be ideal. Exotic species like Brazilian cherry or mahogany offer rich, vibrant colors for a luxurious feel.


Maintenance requirements

Different wood species have varying maintenance requirements. Some species, like walnut or cherry, are more prone to color changes over time, known as patina, which adds character but may require special care to maintain. On the other hand, harder species like teak or bamboo are more resistant to scratches and dents, making them easier to maintain with regular cleaning and maintenance.


Popular wood species for hardwood flooring

Now that you understand the key factors to consider let's explore some popular wood species for hardwood flooring and their unique characteristics:



Oak is one of the most widely used wood species for hardwood flooring, known for its durability, affordability, and timeless appeal. It comes in two varieties: red oak and white oak. Red oak has a warm reddish-brown hue with prominent grain patterns, while white oak features a cooler, more neutral tone with a tighter grain pattern. Both varieties are excellent choices for high-traffic areas due to their hardness and resistance to wear.



Maple is prized for its light, creamy color and smooth grain pattern, creating a clean and modern look in any space. It's harder than oak, making it suitable for areas prone to heavy foot traffic. Maple's light color also makes it easy to stain in various shades, allowing for customization to match your decor preferences.



Hickory is one of the hardest domestic wood species available, making it exceptionally durable and resistant to scratches and dents. It features a distinct grain pattern with contrasting light and dark tones, adding character and visual interest to floors. Hickory is ideal for rustic or traditional interiors seeking a robust and long-lasting flooring option.



Cherry wood offers a rich, reddish-brown color that darkens over time, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. It has a fine grain pattern and a smooth texture, lending elegance and sophistication to any room. Cherry is softer than oak or hickory, so it may require more care to prevent scratches and dents, but its beauty and patina make it a popular choice for formal spaces.



Walnut is prized for its deep, chocolate-brown color and luxurious appearance. It has a straight grain with occasional swirls and knots, adding character and charm to floors. While walnut is softer than some hardwood species, its natural beauty and richness make it a preferred option for areas with lower foot traffic, such as bedrooms or living rooms.


Choose the perfect wood species for your home with Great American Floors

Selecting the best wood species for your hardwood flooring involves considering factors such as hardness, color, grain pattern, durability, and maintenance requirements. By understanding the unique characteristics of each species, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your aesthetic preferences and lifestyle needs.


At Great American Floors in Sandy Springs, GA, we offer a wide selection of high-quality hardwood flooring options, including oak, maple, hickory, cherry, walnut, and more. Our experienced team can guide you through the selection process, ensuring you choose the perfect wood species to enhance your home's beauty and functionality.

For expert advice and top-notch hardwood flooring solutions in Sandy Springs, Atlanta, Roswell, Dunwoody, Norcross, Marietta, Alpharetta, and surrounding areas, contact Great American Floors today