Hardwood flooring has been a popular choice for homeowners and designers for centuries, thanks to its natural beauty, durability, and versatility. Available in a variety of wood species, colors, grain patterns, textures, and sizes, hardwood floors can complement any interior design style, from traditional to contemporary.
In this article, we will delve into the various types of hardwood flooring constructions, such as solid and engineered hardwood, their unique features, and the factors to consider when selecting the perfect hardwood flooring for your home. We will also explore the installation methods, finishes, and maintenance requirements for hardwood floors.
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Construction
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Species
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Color
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Grain pattern
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Pattern
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Grade
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Plank Size
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Finish
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Texture
- Hardwood Flooring Types by Installation Method
Hardwood Flooring Types by Construction
Solid and engineered hardwood are two common types of hardwood flooring constructions. Solid hardwood flooring is made from a single piece of hardwood, while engineered hardwood is made from multiple layers of hardwood veneer and a core material. Both solid and engineered hardwood flooring have their unique advantages and considerations.
|Feature||Solid Hardwood Flooring||Engineered Hardwood Flooring|
|Construction||Single piece of hardwood||Hardwood veneer on core|
|Thickness||5/16″ to 3/4″||3/8″ to 3/4″|
|Widths||2 1/4″, 3 1/4″, 5″||Varies|
|Species||Red Oak, White Oak, Maple, Hickory||Hickory, oak, maple, Walnut, Walnut|
|Installation||Above grade, on grade||Above grade, on grade, below grade|
|Refinishing||Can be refinished multiple times||Can be refinished multiple times|
|Durability||Durable||More stable and durable|
|Price||Higher cost per square foot||Lower cost per square foot|
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood flooring typically ranges in thickness from 5/16″ to 3/4″ and comes in standard widths of 2 1/4″, 3 1/4″, and 5″. Solid hardwood flooring can be installed above grade or on grade, but should not be installed below grade.
The most common species used for solid hardwood flooring are red oak, white oak, and maple.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood flooring typically ranges in thickness from 3/8″ to 3/4″ and comes in a variety of widths and lengths. Engineered hardwood flooring can be installed above grade, on grade, or below grade, and can be glued, nailed, or floated.
The most common species used for engineered hardwood flooring are hickory, oak, and maple. However, other hardwood species such as cherry, walnut, and birch can also be used for engineered hardwood flooring.
Hardwood Flooring Types by Species
Different wood species have their unique characteristics, including color, grain pattern, and hardness, which can impact the overall look and feel of the floor. Here are some of the most popular hardwood species:
|Wood Species||Janka Hardness Rating||Price Range|
|Red Oak||1290||$3-$10 per square foot|
|White Oak||1360||$4-$12 per square foot|
|Hard Maple||1450||$5-$14 per square foot|
|Soft Maple||950||$4-$8 per square foot|
|Cherry||950||$4-$12 per square foot|
|Walnut||1010||$6-$18 per square foot|
|Hickory||1820||$5-$15 per square foot|
|White Ash||1320||$4-$10 per square foot|
|Black Ash||1320||$3-$9 per square foot|
|African Mahogany||830||$7-$20 per square foot|
|Honduran Mahogany||800||$9-$25 per square foot|
|Yellow Birch||1260||$4-$12 per square foot|
|Red Birch||1260||$4-$10 per square foot|
|Teak||1000||$8-$20 per square foot|
|Bamboo||1380||$3-$8 per square foot|
In the United States, red oak is the most commonly used species, accounting for approximately 50% of hardwood flooring sales. White oak is the second most popular species, followed by maple, hickory, and cherry. Walnut and mahogany are less commonly used but still have a significant market share in the high-end market. Exotic hardwood species, such as Brazilian cherry and teak, are also gaining popularity due to their unique appearance and durability.
Hardwood Flooring Types by Color
Color is an important consideration. The color of a hardwood floor can set the tone for a room, from light and airy to warm and inviting. Here are some of the most popular hardwood floor color:
In recent years, lighter-colored hardwoods have also gained in popularity, with natural and whitewashed finishes accounting for around 20% of all hardwood flooring purchases. This trend towards lighter shades is in line with the popularity of modern and minimalist interior design.
Light-colored hardwood floors are a great choice for contemporary and minimalist interiors. They can make a room feel bright and spacious. Oak, maple, and birch are just a few examples of light-colored hardwood species.
Light-colored hardwood floors are a great option for brightening up a space and making it feel more spacious. They can be suitable for a range of rooms in a home, including living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways.
Medium-colored hardwood floors are versatile and can work well in a variety of interiors. They can add warmth and depth to a room. Popular medium-colored hardwood species include cherry, hickory, and ash.
Medium-colored hardwood floors are versatile and can be suitable for a range of rooms in a home. They add warmth and depth to a space, making them ideal for creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere in living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms.
According to the Houzz & Home Study, dark wood flooring remains a popular choice among homeowners, with 18% of those surveyed reporting that they had installed or replaced their flooring with dark wood. This study surveyed over 87,000 U.S. homeowners who were either in the process of, or had recently completed, a home renovation project.
Dark-colored hardwood floors are luxurious and elegant, and can make a room feel cozy and intimate. Walnut and mahogany are just a few examples of popular dark-colored hardwood species.
Dark-colored hardwood floors are suitable for formal living rooms, dining rooms, and home offices.
Hardwood Flooring Types by Grain pattern
Different wood grain patterns can create various looks and feels, from subtle and uniform to bold and distinctive. Here are some of the most popular wood grain pattern:
Uniform grain patterns are a popular choice for contemporary and minimalist interiors. According to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), maple is one of the most commonly used wood species with a uniform grain pattern in North America, making up around 10% of all hardwood floor installations. Birch and hickory are also popular choices for uniform grain patterns, with hickory making up around 7% of all hardwood floor installations.
Distinctive grain patterns are often used to create a bold and eye-catching look in traditional and rustic interiors. Oak is a popular choice for distinctive grain patterns, accounting for 20% of all hardwood floor installations in North America, according to the NWFA. Cherry and walnut are also commonly used for distinctive grain patterns, with cherry making up around 4% of all hardwood floor installations and walnut making up around 3%.
Mixed grain patterns offer a unique look and feel, combining subtle and bold patterns. Mahogany and ash are two popular wood species with mixed grain patterns. While specific data on the market share of mixed grain patterns is not readily available, these species are frequently used in high-end homes and commercial spaces for their unique aesthetic.
Hardwood Flooring Types by Pattern
When it comes to designing your space, the pattern in which your hardwood flooring is laid can significantly impact the overall aesthetic of your room. Here, we will discuss some common hardwood floor patterns that can enhance the beauty and style of your home, along with some numerical facts and their best suitable rooms. For a comprehensive guide on hardwood floor patterns, visit Common Hardwood Floor Patterns.
The most traditional and widely used pattern, accounting for about 70% of all installations, the straight pattern features hardwood planks laid parallel to each other along the length or width of the room. This layout creates a clean, classic look that works well with almost any interior design style and is suitable for living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways.
By laying the hardwood planks at a 45-degree angle to the room’s walls, the diagonal pattern adds visual interest and can make a space appear larger. This dynamic layout, representing around 10% of installations, is perfect for those who want to create a distinctive and sophisticated look, particularly in spacious living rooms or open-plan areas.
The herringbone pattern involves placing rectangular planks in a zigzag pattern, with each plank’s end meeting the side of another at a 90-degree angle. This elegant and intricate design, accounting for about 8% of installations, adds a touch of luxury and is well-suited for both traditional and contemporary spaces, such as dining rooms, foyers, and formal living rooms.
Similar to the herringbone pattern, the chevron pattern features planks laid in a V-shape, with the ends of the planks cut at an angle to create a continuous zigzag. This striking pattern, representing around 7% of installations, can make a bold statement and works exceptionally well in modern and minimalist interiors, like bedrooms or home offices.
The parquet pattern consists of geometric shapes, such as squares or rectangles, created by arranging smaller hardwood planks. One of the most well-known parquet patterns is the Versailles pattern, which features a combination of squares and diagonal lines. Parquet flooring, accounting for about 5% of installations, adds an artistic touch to a room and is ideal for those looking to create a unique and eye-catching space, such as in entryways or statement rooms.
Hardwood Flooring Types by Grade
Selecting the right grade of hardwood flooring is essential for achieving the desired aesthetic and quality for your space. The grade of hardwood flooring refers to the appearance of the wood, particularly its natural characteristics such as color variation, knots, and mineral streaks. Here are the four primary grades of hardwood flooring:
Clear grade hardwood flooring is the highest quality and features minimal color variations, knots, and imperfections. This grade showcases the wood’s natural beauty and grain patterns, making it a popular choice for contemporary and traditional interior designs. Clear grade hardwood flooring accounts for about 10% of residential installations and is best suited for formal living rooms and elegant dining areas, where homeowners seek a pristine appearance.
Select grade hardwood flooring exhibits a uniform appearance with slight color variations and minimal knots. This grade is often preferred for its consistent look, making it ideal for modern and minimalist spaces. Select grade hardwood flooring represents approximately 35% of residential installations and works well in bedrooms, living rooms, and home offices, where a clean and harmonious look is desired.
No. 1 Common Grade
No. 1 common grade hardwood flooring features moderate color variations, knots, and mineral streaks, giving it a more rustic appearance. This grade suits casual, country, and farmhouse styles, adding warmth and character to spaces. No. 1 common grade hardwood flooring accounts for roughly 30% of residential installations and is suitable for family rooms, playrooms, and kitchens, providing a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
No. 2 Common Grade
No. 2 common grade hardwood flooring, also known as “rustic” or “cabin” grade, has the most pronounced color variations, knots, and imperfections. This grade creates a unique, aged look, making it a popular choice for eclectic and vintage-inspired designs. No. 2 common grade hardwood flooring represents about 25% of residential installations and is ideal for casual living spaces, basements, and recreational rooms, where homeowners appreciate the charm of a more rugged and distressed look.
Hardwood Flooring Types by Plank Size
Varying the plank size can result in different aesthetics for your hardwood flooring, ranging from a traditional and rustic look to a more modern and sleek appearance. Below are some popular hardwood floor types categorized by their plank sizes:
|Hardwood Flooring Plank Size||Price Range (per sq. ft.)|
|Narrow (less than 3 inches)||$3 – $14|
|Medium (3 to 6 inches)||$4 – $18|
|Wide (more than 6 inches)||$6 – $25|
|Extra-Wide (more than 9 inches)||$8 – $30|
Narrow plank hardwood flooring typically measures less than 3 inches in width. This style of flooring is ideal for smaller rooms or spaces where a more traditional, rustic look is desired. Narrow planks can make a room feel cozy and intimate, and they work well in areas like hallways, bedrooms, and smaller living spaces.
Some popular hardwood species for narrow plank flooring include hickory and maple.
Medium plank hardwood flooring typically measures between 3 to 6 inches in width. This versatile option works well in a variety of interior design styles and room sizes. Medium planks can add warmth and depth to a room, making them ideal for living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms.
Popular hardwood species for medium plank flooring include oak, birch, and cherry.
Wide plank hardwood flooring typically measures more than 6 inches in width. This style of flooring is well-suited for larger rooms or spaces where a more modern, contemporary look is desired. Wide planks can make a room feel more open and spacious, and they work well in areas like open-concept living spaces, master bedrooms, and grand entryways.
Some popular hardwood species for wide plank flooring include walnut and mahogany.
Extra-wide plank flooring is typically 8 inches or wider. It is a luxurious option that can make a big statement in a room. Some popular extra-wide plank hardwood species include oak and hickory.
Extra-wide plank hardwood flooring is best suited for spacious living rooms, dining rooms, master bedrooms, and open-concept spaces, where it can create an elegant and luxurious atmosphere.
According to Hardwood Manufacturers Association (HMA), the most popular plank size for hardwood flooring is currently medium plank, accounting for approximately 60% of all hardwood flooring sales. Wide plank flooring is the second most popular at approximately 25%, while narrow and extra-wide plank flooring each account for approximately 7.5% of sales.
Hardwood Flooring Types by Finish
Hardwood floors can be finished in a variety of ways to enhance their durability and appearance. Three of the most popular hardwood floor finish types are glossy, matte, and satin.
A glossy finish, also known as a high-gloss finish, has a reflective, mirror-like appearance that accentuates the wood’s natural grain and color. This finish type is especially popular for formal settings or areas where a luxurious look is desired. Glossy finishes typically have a sheen level of 70% or higher, as measured on the gloss meter.
Glossy finishes account for approximately 20% of hardwood flooring finishes in residential settings.
Matte finishes have a low sheen level, usually between 10% and 25%, resulting in a non-reflective, natural look that highlights the texture of the wood. This finish type is popular in contemporary and minimalist design schemes, as well as in high-traffic areas where durability is a priority.
Matte finishes represent approximately 40% of hardwood flooring finishes in residential settings.
Satin finishes strike a balance between glossy and matte finishes, with a sheen level ranging from 30% to 50%. This finish type has a soft, velvety appearance that enhances the wood’s natural beauty without being overly reflective. Satin finishes are versatile and suitable for a wide range of interior design styles.
Satin finishes account for approximately 40% of hardwood flooring finishes in residential settings.
Hardwood Flooring Types by Texture
In addition to selecting the right finish, choosing the appropriate texture is crucial for achieving the desired look and feel of your hardwood flooring. The texture can greatly influence the overall appearance, style, and maintenance requirements of your floors. Among various texture types, the three most popular choices are smooth, hand-scraped, and wire-brushed. In this section, we will explore these three texture types and provide numerical facts to support their popularity. For more detailed information, visit our article on hardwood floor texture.
Smooth-textured hardwood floors have a sleek, even surface, showcasing the wood’s natural grain patterns and providing a classic, timeless look. This texture type is particularly popular in traditional and modern interior design styles.
Smooth-textured hardwood floors account for approximately 60% of hardwood flooring installations in residential settings.
Hand-scraped hardwood floors feature intentional, artisanal markings that create an authentic, aged appearance. Each plank has a unique, hand-crafted look, providing a rustic and warm aesthetic. This texture type is especially popular in country, farmhouse, and eclectic design styles.
Hand-scraped hardwood floors represent approximately 25% of hardwood flooring installations in residential settings.
Wire-brushed hardwood floors are created by removing the softwood from the surface of the planks, leaving behind the harder wood grain and creating subtle, linear grooves. This texture type provides a unique, slightly distressed appearance that works well in contemporary, industrial, and Scandinavian design styles.
Wire-brushed hardwood floors account for approximately 15% of hardwood flooring installations in residential settings.
Hardwood Flooring Types by Installation Method
Different installation methods can create various looks and feels, from traditional and rustic to contemporary and sleek. Here are some popular hardwood floor types by installation method:
Nail-down installation is a traditional method that involves nailing the hardwood planks directly to the subfloor. This technique is commonly used for solid hardwood flooring and requires a wooden subfloor for proper installation.
Nail-down installation can be challenging for DIY enthusiasts, as it requires specialized tools and expertise in aligning the planks and nailing them correctly.
However, this method is popular due to its long-standing history and the stability it provides to the flooring, accounting for approximately 45% of all hardwood installations. The process can be time-consuming and labor-intensive compared to other installation methods.
The use of nails and adhesive may have an environmental impact, but using sustainably sourced wood and low-VOC adhesives can minimize this.
Nail-down installation offers excellent durability and stability, which can result in a longer lifespan for the flooring if properly maintained.
Glue-down installation involves using adhesive to secure the hardwood planks directly to the subfloor. This method is suitable for both solid and engineered hardwood floors and can be used with a variety of subfloor materials.
Glue-down installation can be more accessible to DIY enthusiasts than nail-down but still requires careful preparation and attention to detail to ensure a proper bond.
This method is popular for its versatility and compatibility with various subfloor materials, including concrete, and represents approximately 30% of all hardwood installations.
While glue-down installation is less labor-intensive than nail-down, it requires careful handling of adhesive and adequate drying time. The environmental impact depends on the type of adhesive used; opting for low-VOC, water-based adhesives can reduce environmental concerns.
Properly installed glue-down hardwood floors have a long lifespan, similar to nail-down installations, as long as they are well-maintained.
Floating installation is a technique in which hardwood planks are not attached directly to the subfloor. Instead, they are either clicked together using a tongue-and-groove system or glued at the joints, creating a single, cohesive unit that “floats” above the subfloor.
This method is particularly popular for engineered hardwood flooring. Floating installation is the most DIY-friendly option, as it requires minimal tools and experience, making it a popular choice for homeowners looking to save on installation costs.
This method has gained popularity in recent years due to its ease of installation and compatibility with various subfloor materials, accounting for approximately 25% of all hardwood installations. Floating installation is faster and less labor-intensive than other methods, making it a convenient choice for quick renovations.
The lack of nails and minimal adhesive use makes floating installation an eco-friendly option, especially when combined with sustainably sourced wood and low-VOC adhesives.
Although floating installations offer good durability, their lifespan may be slightly shorter than that of nail-down or glue-down installations due to the potential for movement and separation over time.
Selecting the right hardwood flooring for your home involves considering various factors, such as construction type, wood species, color, grain pattern, texture, finish, and installation method. By understanding the differences and unique advantages of each option, you can make an informed decision that best suits your home’s aesthetic, functional, and budgetary needs. With proper care and maintenance, hardwood flooring can be a long-lasting, beautiful, and valuable addition to any living space, enhancing the overall look and feel of your home for years to come.