In a previous post I discussed the large number of hardwood flooring options and explained about the Janka wood hardness scale, which is a rating for hardwoods that is universally accepted by hardwood flooring professionals. With so many options, it is often difficult for consumers to pick which wood species would be best for their home. Here are some things to consider when selecting your new hardwood floor species.

When choosing hardwood flooring you should take into consideration your home’s style, as well as the existing cabinetry and wood trim in your home.

If you have dark stained kitchen cabinets, you may wish to install a lighter, but complementary, hardwood species on your floor. The amount of light in a room is also a consideration. You can use flooring, especially the stain you choose for the hardwood, to brighten up a dark room. The National Wood Flooring Association wood species gallery contains photographs of 33 wood species and includes a helpful description of each species as well as photographs of the wood showing it with both water and oil-based finishes.1

You will also want to check the Janka hardness scale rating2 for your wood flooring choice. Wood species with lower Janka scale numbers would not be suitable for floors which are subject to high traffic, pets or children, as these wood species have a tendency to get scratched and dented more easily. While hardwoods can be sanded and refinished multiple times, there is a point where hardwood flooring will have to be replaced because it can no longer be refinished.

Durable Hardwood Species

A strong, resilient hardwood species, like Red Oak, which has a rating of 1290 on the Janka scale, is the benchmark against which all other wood species are compared.3 Since there are over 200 subspecies of Red Oak in North America, it can vary in color and grain pattern. It is a good choice for flooring, as it is relatively easy to work with during installation, and yet it is hard enough not to dent or scratch very easily.

Red Oak is also readily available so the price is less than exotic hardwoods. Other common choices include hard maple, with a Janka hardness rating of 1450, hickory with a hardness rating of 1820, and walnut with a hardness rating of 1010.4 Cherry is also a popular option, however it is softer than the other popular species, with a hardness rating of 950. Because of its softness, cherry is best for lower traffic areas such as formal dining rooms and bedrooms.

While each tree has a unique grain pattern, you can get an overall impression of how your new hardwood floor will look by carefully examining the grain patterns shown in online resources.5 If you are replacing a floor in an older home, you might want to go with a hardwood with a more distressed grain pattern or with reclaimed hardwoods that have been salvaged from older homes. There are also many pre-finished distressed flooring options and most hardwood floor species can be made to look distressed by a professional flooring contractor with experience in this area.

If you still are unsure what hardwood flooring species is best for your home, rely on the advice of a hardwood flooring professional. That professional will have the expertise to help you explore all your options to find the best floor for your home.

Cameron the Sandman has the experience and expertise to help you make the right choice for the floors in your home. Our Services include flooring sales, installation, repair, restoration, and more! Cameron the Sandman is a family owned business serving Michigan since 1936 and we manage each project from start to finish and everything in-between. Call us today for a consult and to learn more about our hardwood flooring services!


1 Species Gallery, National Wood Flooring Association

2 Janka Hardness Scale Chart,

4 New Floors? 5 Top Hardwood Options to Know by Glenda Taylor,