Types of Wood and Wood Species
When installing a hardwood floor, it is important to consider the types of wood and wood species that will give you the look that you want for your room.
Appearance of Red Oak Hardwood Floors:
Color: Heart and sapwood are similar with sapwood lighter in color; most pieces have a reddish tone. Slightly redder than white
Red Oak Wood Floors Grain: Open, slightly coarser (more porous) than white oak. Plainsawn boards have a plumed or flared grain appearance; riftsawn has a tighter grain pattern, low figuring; quartersawn has a flake pattern, sometimes called tiger oak, tiger rays or butterflies.
Availability: Commodity item available in ALL types, styles and sizes of flooring
Properties: Hardness: 1290 Janka Table (benchmark) Durability: Stiff & dense, resist wear, less durable than white oak.Workability: Sawing: above average Nailing: good Sanding: satisfactorily, better than white oak Finishing: Strong stain contrast, because of pores
Appearance of White Oak Wood Floors:
Color: Heartwood is light brown; some boards may have a pinkish tint or a slight grayish cast. Sapwood is white to cream
Grain: Open, with longer rays than red oak. Occasional crotches, swirls and burls. Plainsawn boards have a plumed or flared grain appearance; riftsawn has a tighter grain pattern, low figuring; quartersawn has a flake pattern, sometimes called tiger oak, tiger rays, or butterflies
Availability: Commodity item, available in ALL types, styles and sizes of flooring
Properties: Hardness of White Oak Hardwood Floors: 1360 Jankas Table, 5% harder than Northern red oak Durability: More durable than red oak. Tannic acid in the wood protects it from fungi and insects
Workability: Sawing: good Nailing: good Sanding: satisfactory Finishing: Absorbs finishes more evenly than red oak.
Appearance of Maple Wood Floors:
Color: Maple Heartwood is creamy white to light reddish brown; Sapwood is pale to creamy white.
Maple Wood Floors Grain: Closed, subdued grain, with medium figuring and uniform grain texture. Occasionally shows quilted, fiddle back, curly or bird's-eye figuring. Figured boards often culled during grading and sold at a premium.
Availability: Commodity item; figured grains limitedProperties of Maple Wood Floors: Hardness: 1450 janka Table, 12% harder than Northern red oak Durability: Dense, strong, tough, stiff, often used in bowling alleys and sports floors
Workability: Sawing: Density makes it difficult Nailing: good, fair resistance to splitting Sanding: satisfactorily Finishing: Good in natural finish, DOES NOT stain uniformly
Appearance of Cherry Wood Floors:
Color: Heartwood is dark to reddish brown, lustrous; sapwood is light brown to pale with a light pinkish tone. Some manufacturers steam lumber to bleed the darker heartwood color into the sapwood, resulting in a more uniform color.
Cherry Wood Floor Grain: Fine, frequently wavy, uniform texture. True quartersawn has distinctive flake pattern. Texture is satiny, with some gum pockets.
Properties: Hardness: 950 janka Table, 26% softer than Northern red oak Durability: Strong, moderately hard. Usually considered too soft for an entire floor-mostly used for accents and bordersWorkability: Sawing: Good Nailing: Good Sanding: Satisfactorily Finishing: No known
Appearance of Pine Wood Floors:
Color: Heartwood varies from light yellow/orange to reddish brown or yellowish brown; sapwood is light tan to yellowish white.
Grain: Closed, with high figuring; patterns range from clear to knotty.
Availability: Commodity item, unfinished strip, planks
Hardness: 690 Janka Table 47% softer than Northern red oak; longleaf 870 Janka Table, 33% softer than Northern red oak. Durability: Soft, fairly durable, not as resist to scuff, & dents as true hardwoods
Workability: Sawing: good Nailing: good Sanding: Resin tends to clog sand paper, frequent paper changes are required Finishing: Using durable finishes can help minimize wear.
Appearance of Walnut Wood Floors:
Color: Heartwood ranges from a deep, rich dark brown to a purplish black. Sapwood is nearly white to tan. Difference between heartwood and sapwood is great; some manufacturers steam the wood to bleed the darker heartwood color into the sapwood.
Grain: Mostly straight and open, but some boards have burled or curly grain.
Properties: Hardness: 1010 Janka Table, 22% softer than Northern red oak Durability: Moderately dense, very strong
Other Names:American Walnut,Black Walnut,Burbank Walnut,Eastern Black Walnut,Eastern Walnut,Gunwood,North American Walnut, and Virginia Walnut
Appearance of Ash Wood Floors:
Appearance: Ash Wood Flooring Heartwood is light tan to dark brown; sapwood is creamy white. Similar to white oak but more yellow
Grain: Bold, straight, moderately open grain with occasional wavy figuring, and can have strong contract in grain in plainsawn ash wood flooring boards.
Availability: Moderately available
Properties: Hardness: 1230% Janka Table, 2% harder than Northern red oak
Durability: Elastic, hard, excellent shock resistance.
Workability: Good Sawing, Good Nailing, Good resistance to splitting sanding.
Ash Wood Floors Stains well, no known finishing problems
Appearance of Hickory Wood Floors:
Color: Pecan heartwood is reddish brown with dark brown stripes; sapwood is white or creamy white with pinkish tones. Hickory heartwood is tan or reddish; sapwood is white to cream, with fine brown lines
Grain: Pecan is open, occasionally wavy or irregular. Hickory is closed, with moderate definition; somewhat rough-textured.
Availability: Readily, not parquet patterns
Hardness: 1820 Janka Table, 41% harder than Northern red oak
Durability: Combination of strength, hardness, toughness and stiffness not found in other commercial wood.
Workability: Difficult to season, good Nailing, prone to splitting
Sanding: Difficult due to density, sanding marks may show
Finishing: No known problems
Appearance of Birch Wood Floors:
Color: Sapwood is creamy yellow or pale white in yellow birch; heartwood is light reddish brown tinged with red. Sweet birch has light colored sapwood and heartwood is dark brown tinged with red
Birch Wood Flooring Grain: Medium figuring, straight, closed grain, even textured. Occasional curly grain or wavy figure in some boards.
Properties: Hardness:1260 Janka Table, 2% softer than Northern red oak. Durability: Hard and stiff; very strong.
Sawing: With good machine tools, difficult with hand tools.
Finishing: No known problems
Appearance of Beech Wood Floors:
Color: Reddish brown heartwood, with pale white sapwood Grain:Mostly closed, straight grain, uniform texture. Coarser than European beech
Hardness:1300% Janka Table, 1% harder than Northern red oak
Durability:Elastic, hard; excellent shock resistance. Wears wells, stays smooth when subjected to friction - popular for factory floors.
Sawing: Good with machine tools, difficult to work with hand tools.
Nailing: Good holding ability, has tendency to split.
Sanding and Finishing: No known problems
Appearance of Mesquite Wood Floors:
Color: Light brown to dark reddish brown
Grain: High in character, with ingrown bark and mineral streaks. Used in end-grain flooring blocks.
Hardness: 2345 Janka Table, 82% harder than Northern red oak
Durability: Dense and very strong
Workability: Very good Nailing, splits easily
Sanding: good with end grain requiring #16 grit paper to cut properly
Finishing: No known problems
Appearance of Heart Pine Wood Floors:
Color: Heartwood is yellow after cutting and turns deep pinkish tan to warm reddish brown within weeks due to high resin content. Sapwood remains yellow, with occasional blue-black sap stain.
Grain of Heart Pine Wood Floors: Dense, with high figuring. Plainsawn is swirled; rift or quartersawn is primarily pinstriped. Curly or burl grain is rare.
Properties of Pine Wood Floors: Hardness: 1225 Janka Table, 5% sifter than Northern red oak. Durability: Natural resistance to insects in heartwood; dense
Sanding: Use course paper for 1st sanding, may clog paper. Finishing: Accepts surface and penetrating finishes, some stains tend to blotch
Appearance of Douglas Fir Wood Floors:
Color: Douglas Fir Wood Floors are a Yellowish tan to light brown heartwood. Sapwood is tan to white Heartwood may be confused with that of Southern yellow pine. Radical color change upon exposure to sunlight.
Grain: Grain: Normally straight, with occasional wavy or spiral texture. Nearly all fir flooring is vertical grain or riftsawn clear grade material
Availability: Readily available
Hardness: 660 Janka Table,49% softer than Northern red oak
Durability: Durable but easily dented like soft pine
Sawing: Harder to work with hand tools than soft pines.
Sanding: Satisfactorily Finishing: May change color with some finishing products, and care must be taken to avoid over sanding.
Imported Wood Species:
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