Hardwood Flooring Material: Choose The Right One

hardwood flooring material

Hardwood flooring has a wide array of varieties. Starting from the wood species to the color and texture of the wood, you would get diverse options among hardwood. But when it comes to choosing the right one, people often get puzzled as they don’t know about hardwood flooring material.

Hardwood flooring material is not only defined by the wood species, but also by the color, texture, polishing types, plank size, etc. So to handpick the best hardwood flooring material, you need to know about it in detail. Also, remember that not all material is suitable for all the spaces. Therefore, before you buy it, knowing about the material is mandatory. 

But don’t worry about finding relevant information regarding hardwood material. Because in this article, I have collected all that you need to know about hardwood flooring material. Hence, this article is going to be helpful if you are planning to install hardwood flooring. 

So, stay with me and learn the most!

Hardwood Flooring Material: 6 Wood Species: 

A variety of tree woods are used for hardwood flooring. Therefore, the first question that pops your mind is which species of wood you should buy. Besides scrutinizing the color, grade, and durability, checking the species, therefore, is necessary. In fact, knowing the species would tell the most about the qualities of that specific wood. 

Consequently, let’s discuss some of the most popular wood species used for hardwood flooring: 

1. Oak: 

Be it white or red, oak hardwood flooring is one of the most common hardwood materials available. In terms of aesthetic value, maintenance, availability, and durability, oak hardwood is preferable compared to other options. Especially for living room and bedroom flooring, oak is an outstanding hardwood species. 

Oak is available in different color shades starting from off-white to pale red. The planks are usually wide and polished with minimal knots and streaks. Its thicknesses vary according to the subspecies of oak wood. Easy to maintain, oak hardwood can be repaired easily in case of minor damages. 

2. Hickory: 

Hickory wood is another popular hardwood flooring material for living room, basement, as well as kitchen flooring. With the narrow and small hickory planks, you can get classy and sleek flooring. It has a warm appearance as well as available in cool shades depending on the finish. 

Note that hickory is more durable than oak. This is the reason why hickory wood is used in high-traffic areas like hallways, entryways, corridors, or stairs. It is adequately moisture-resistant and if waxed, its moisture resistance enhances. Therefore, hickory is a good material for high-traffic spaces. 

3. Maple:

Maple wood is mostly used in modern houses due to its clean and tidy appearance. With dispersed streaks and consistent grain, maple wood gives a very soothing and calming appearance. Besides, maple wood has a very light color tone to match with sleek and tiptop modern interiors. 

Maple hardwood is adequately thick for installing in low to medium-traffic areas. It is long-lasting if maintained properly. Besides, removing scuff marks and scratches from maple flooring is not so difficult. But as the tone is light, cleaning has to be proper to keep the glow and grace intact. 

4. Ash: 

Ash hardwood has a similar appearance to maple hardwood. The basic difference is maple has fewer flaws and ash flooring has more streaks, knots, and grains. The subtleness in ash flooring is less than maple flooring. Otherwise, the base color is light and warm beige just like maple wood. 

Ashwood is sturdy but very soft to touch. With its shock-absorbing property, ash wood makes barefoot walking comfortably. Another benefit is that ash hardwood has excellent temperature and moisture resistance properties coping up with fluctuating weather conditions. This makes it look graceful and new even after several years. 

5. Cherry: 

Despite the light and warm brown tones, you have other color options too that you can get from cherry wood. Cherry wood has a distinct appearance due to its vivid red hue. With wavy streaks and black grains on the red foundation, cherry wood gives a shiny and intense look to any flooring. 

Cherry hardwood is extremely durable and long-lasting. It has shock-absorbing capabilities that make walking comfortable. With its varied yet incessant grains, cherry hardwood gives a unique flooring. It is suitable for both contemporary and traditional spaces depending on how you decorate the space. Keep the decoration subtle and let the cherry floor grab all the attention. 

6. Ebony: 

Ebony hardwood is the thickest among all the options mentioned above. Besides its thickness, ebony wood is compact and solid showing excellent durability and moisture resistance. Also, the minor scratches, marks, stains, and scuffs won’t damage ebony wood easily. 

But the exclusive part of ebony hardwood is its intense black-brown color tone. It is truly exceptional to see blackish hardwood with stretched beige streaks on the floor. It has a bold look and can adorn any space with minimal decoration. Creating color contrast with dark ebony wood can beautify any room and add value to the space. Because exceptionality is rare!

To mention a few points specifically, here is a table mentioning a few features of these hardwood material species: 

Wood SpeciesThickness (Janka Hardness Scale)Color ShadeStreaks And Knots
Oak1360- 2680Warm brown. off-white, pale red Consistent and noticeable 
Hickory1820Light brownRandom grains and streaks
Maple1450Off-white, BeigePlain and less flawed
Ash1320Off-white, BeigeMinimal streaks and grains
Cherry2350Dark Brown And Red HuesProminent Incessant Wavy Streaks And Grains
Ebony3700Dark Brown, Chocolaty BrownStretched Streaks And Grains

5 Types Of Hardwood Flooring Material: The Finish

Apart from the wood species, the hardwood flooring material can be defined by the finish too. The color shades and hardness of a wood species can change due to the finish and polish. It also affects the hardwood flooring design and its compatibility with a particular interior. So to learn the most about hardwood flooring material, knowing the finishing types is necessary too. 

In this section, I will be discussing some popular hardwood material finishes that are available in the market and have distinct features: 

1. Unfinished Hardwood Planks: 

Unfinished hardwood planks are completely raw and pure hardwood that is not finished in a factory. You can also go custom finish if you like. But originally, it had no finishing. 

The benefit of unfinished planks is that you can finish and furnish the planks again and again making the layers smooth. The visibility of bevels is less and these are highly durable. With sealant on the planks, unfinished hardwood planks offer excellent moisture resistance. However, the sealant has to be applied frequently as unfinished layers can’t hold it up for long. 

Though the installation and sealing process is a bit time-consuming and labor-intensive, unfinished planks are budget-friendly and durable. 

2. Prefinished Hardwood Planks: 

A sleek and tiptop hardwood plank comes after processing and finishing from a factory. It has a plain and smooth surface with layers of protective coating done by the factories. These are the prefinished planks. 

The polished and uniform surface of the prefinished plank is what you would demand in a modern house. With layers of protection and sealants on them, prefinished hardwood lasts for a long time. Note that sealing is mandatory as unsealed areas are prone to damage and warping. 

Besides, hiding any mark or stain is difficult in these planks because the layer is polished and fine. So cleaning is a big part if you install this. Last but not least, installing prefinished planks is super easy and the overall price is affordable!

3. Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring:

Reclaimed hardwood flooring has excellent diversity as made from previously used woods. Reclaimed hardwood is extremely eco-friendly as the planks are made by recycling woods. This is the reason why the color and patterns are haphazard, inconsistent, and random. 

Reclaimed hardwood generally gives an antique and classic look due to the mixture of various woods. It has a feathery touch and the inconsistency makes each plank new and unique. As eco-friendly, people are increasingly accepting this option. 

However, as the recycling process is lengthy and expensive, the cost of reclaimed hardwood is high too. Besides, the availability of reclaimed planks can be limited depending on the supply. Even if you get enough planks, you need to check the quality and pattern compatibility before installing. 

4. Hand Scraped Hardwood Planks:

Hand-scraped planks are the best for rough use and traditional houses where a rustic look is preferred. Hand-scraped style is what you would get if you use your hands to create random streaks and stretches on the planks. The planks have a distressed appearance best for farmhouses, countryside houses, and traditional homes. 

Due to the distressed look, the scratches, dents, and flaws can be hidden easily in this type of plank. Thus for houses with pets and children, this plank is a safe option. Maintenance is easy with hand scraped planks too. But it is better you keep it clean as the scrapes may hold dirt. 

The drawbacks of hand-scraped hardwood include the high cost of plank and installation. Besides, the installation has to be done by professionals for accuracy. 

5. Engineered Hardwood Plank: 

Engineered hardwood planks are the most popular ones in today’s time. Due to its durability, unique look, and longevity, engineered planks are the best choice for modern areas. 

This finish has a layer of hardwood on a plywood or particle fiberboard core. The core strengthens the plank making it suitable for kitchens or other high-traffic spaces. But the problem is that scars and marks are more visible on the polished engineered wood. Also, refinishing these planks is a mere option, and exposure to sunlight can damage the glaze. 

Engineered planks are adequately water-resistant. Because of its strength, durability, affordable price, and excellent aesthetic value and diversity, the popularity of engineered wood is going up. 

Price Range Of Hardwood Flooring Material Finish:

Depending on the finish of the hardwood, the prices vary. Hence, before you decide which one to choose, knowing the average price range can be helpful. 

Here is a table mentioning the price of different finishes of hardwood flooring material. The cost mentioned includes the price of the plank and the installation cost.

Finish Price Range per sq. ft
Unfinished$6- $12
Prefinished$6- $12
Reclaimed$15- $30
Hand Scraped$10- $20
Engineered$8- $24

As you can see, reclaimed hardwood planks are the most expensive ones while unfinished and prefinished ones are the cheapest. Engineered planks are economical too and hand-scraped planks are a mid-range option. 

Choosing Hardwood Flooring Material: 5 Considerations

What is the point of knowing all the information if you don’t learn how to choose the right one? To select the hardwood flooring material, you have to consider a few factors. 

Here are five considerations that you must look into before choosing the right hardwood flooring material:

1. Durability:

The durability of the hardwood flooring material determines how long you can use it. In this term durability, you can also include some other properties like stain and moisture resistant, heat and fire resistance, etc. If the hardwood has these properties, it means that it would stay intact even in changing conditions. 

Depending on the purpose of use, therefore, you should check the durability of the hardwood flooring. Check the wood species and thickness of the planks to determine their durability. 

2. Location Of Use: 

Hardwood flooring installed in the bathroom would be different from the planks on the living room floor. As bathrooms are exposed to moisture, it requires moisture-resistant hardwood. But the condition is different in the living room. So, the hardwood material choice would vary depending on the location of use. 

In fact, you can use different wood materials for different parts of a space. Choose the suitable hardwood that suits the condition of the location to get the right one. 

3. Style: 

The style and color of the hardwood flooring should match the interior of a space. Not all colors and textures would look good in all interiors. For example, the dark hand-scraped wood won’t match with a modern house but look great in antique houses. Similarly, an oak engineered hardwood would look perfect in a modern and tiptop house setup. 

Make sure that the look of the hardwood matches the style of your interior, be it an office or house. Only then the decoration would be complete. 

4. Maintenance: 

Maintaining hardwood flooring is a crucial task. But remember that not all hardwood materials require the same level of care and maintenance. For example, the hand-scraped cherry woods require minimal care while engineered wood with a light color tone would need more care. 

So depending on how much care you can take, choose the right hardwood flooring material. Measure the maintenance requirement and then decide whether you can maintain it or not. 

5. Budget:

Decide on a budget and then choose the hardwood flooring material. As you can see from the aforementioned chart, hardwood materials are available at different prices. So think of which one you can afford and how much you want to invest in hardwood flooring. Only then can you choose the suitable one. 

Related Questions About Hardwood Flooring Material:

Which Hardwood Material Sustains In Radiant Heat? 

Underfloor radiant heat is a common condition in different areas. Besides, the kitchen floor is exposed to radiant heat. Thus hardwood flooring has to be heat-proof to adjust to these conditions. 

The best radiant heat-proof hardwood is engineered hardwood. It has a strong plywood or particleboard core making it sturdy. The thin layer of veneer doesn’t get affected by heat much. As you can install it as a floating floor, it considerably withstands the underfloor heat. 

What Are The Most Durable Hardwood Flooring Materials? 

Choosing a durable hardwood flooring material is a wise decision. The more durable a hardwood, the more it would sustain. 

In terms of durability, the best hardwood materials are ebony, oak, and cherry. These are commonly used materials suitable for high-traffic areas. Besides their durability, these wood species are excellent in appearance.

Note that among these three options, cherry and ebony are more preferable as scars can be hidden in these floorings. 

How do I ensure the sustainability of the hardwood flooring material I choose?

To ensure the sustainability of your hardwood flooring material, look for products certified by reputable organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). These certifications indicate that the wood used in the flooring comes from responsibly managed forests. Also, consider choosing domestically sourced wood species to minimize transportation impact. Some manufacturers also offer reclaimed or recycled hardwood flooring options, reducing the need for new harvesting. By selecting sustainable hardwood flooring materials, you can enjoy the beauty of wood while supporting environmentally responsible practices.

What hardwood flooring material is the most stable?

Engineered hardwood flooring is generally considered the most stable option among hardwood flooring materials. Engineered hardwood is constructed with multiple layers of wood, with a top layer of real hardwood veneer and underlying layers of plywood or high-density fiberboard (HDF). The layering of different wood materials helps to minimize the natural expansion and contraction that occurs with solid hardwood due to changes in humidity and temperature. This enhanced stability makes engineered hardwood more resistant to warping, cupping, and gaps, making it a reliable choice for areas with fluctuating moisture levels or below-grade installations.

Why is hardwood flooring material so strong?

Hardwood flooring material derives its strength from a combination of factors. Firstly, its cellular structure consists of elongated cells known as fibers, which provide inherent strength and structural integrity. These fibers contribute to the wood’s ability to withstand various forces and pressures. Secondly, hardwood typically has a high density due to the tightly packed wood fibers. This density enhances its strength, making it resistant to wear and damage. Lastly, the grain orientation of hardwood plays a crucial role. The natural growth patterns of the wood fibers create interlocking structures, further enhancing its strength and stability. These characteristics collectively contribute to the exceptional strength of hardwood flooring material.

What Hardwood Materials Are Scratch-resistant? 

Any hardwood material that is hard and thick is generally scratch-resistant. However, some woods show scratches more than others due to their clean appearance. 

In terms of hardness, the best candidates are ebony and cherry (Brazilian). These hardwoods are sturdy and hide scratches easily due to their streaks and dark color tone. Scratching these woods is not easy and even if it happens, they are not much visible. 

Which Hardwood Material Is Waterproof? 

Note that hardwoods are susceptible to water. Though there are a few options that have better water resistance than others, no wood is completely waterproof. 

Among all the materials, ebony and engineered woods have the best water resistance. They take time to soak up water and spills. So if you clean the spills timely, you can prevent water stains, warping, etc. However, you should seal the flooring from time to time to keep the protective layer on them. Otherwise, the glaze will fade away with time.

Which One Is Best Value Hardwood Flooring Material? 

Best value is determined by the benefits you get for the price you pay. While all real woods have excellent performance in indoor conditions, there are some options that are better than the others. 

The best value hardwood flooring materials are maple and hickory. They are affordable as well as excellent in quality. While maple wood costs $7 to $11 per sq. ft, hickory ranges between $6 to $13. Such budget-friendly hardwood materials perform well if maintained properly. Especially hickory is one of the best flooring options in today’s time. 


I have accumulated most of the information in this article. I believe that if you read and take notes from this article, you will eventually learn to choose the best hardwood flooring material. Therefore, my suggestion is to reread the article and see which one would fulfill your demand. 

Ready to choose the best hardwood material for flooring?

Jahidul Alam

Hello dear! This is Jahidul Alam. I am the admin of this Tidy Floor. I have been in the floor cleaning business for the last 20 years. My business is all about ensuring affordable flooring cleaning services for Americans.

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