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The Six Best Domestic Woods for Flooring Material


wood and lumber yard Blog
The six domestic species of wood discussed in this article are sought-after materials for flooring because of their timeless beauty and durability. With proper care, they can look good for ages. Domestic wood species provide exceptional value to builders, woodworkers, and homeowners because of their workability, availability, and affordability. Moreover, these woods have a warmer and more understated look that can fit most interior decorating styles. Whether you seek natural and rustic look for your flooring, or desire a neutral finish that can fit the contemporary interior design elements of your home, then these are the best domestic wood species for you.

Red Oak

Red oak is one of the most widely-used flooring materials in the United States. Its handsome appearance and popularity make it a favorite among vinyl manufacturers who copy its looks. It brings good value to woodworkers and homeowners because of its affordability, workability, and stain-friendliness. Red oak allows you to change the look of your flooring without expending as much effort as it takes to rework other flooring surfaces. Best of all, red oak is the most abundant domestic hardwood around and one of the most affordable.

  • Color: The heartwood is light to medium brown to gray with an olive cast.
  • Toughness: With a Janka rating of 1390, it is harder and more stable than red oak.
  • Rot and Insect Resistance: White oak is durable and can fit cooperage applications.
  • Workability: White oak stains very well with easy workability with either machine or hand tools. Like its red oak counterpart, it also has poor dimensional stability if flatsawn. It is also easy to glue and finishes nicely.
  • Other Uses: Its toughness makes it a preferred choice for outdoor applications such as boatbuilding, barrels, and house siding. White oak can also be an excellent furniture, cabinet, and interior trim material.

Hard Maple

Hard maple is a popular choice for designers and homeowners who want a contemporary look because of its cleaner, creamier, and more uniform color variations, even when using narrower planks as flooring. It is harder than both oak varieties but much softer than hickory. Nevertheless, it is more resistant to dents and scratches than most domestic hardwoods. Because of its hardness, it is tough enough to be a preferred material for basketball hardcourts and bowling alleys. Hard maple is less welcoming to staining because of its low porosity.

  • Color: The sapwood of maple lumber is more commonly used than hardwood. The color of the sapwood is uniformly off-white to cream.
  • Toughness: With a Janka rating of 1450, it is among the hardest domestic hardwood species on the market and is harder than oak.
  • Rot and Insect Resistance: Hard maple is susceptible to insect attack, so it may need to be treated thoroughly to resist termite attacks.
  • Workability: Hard maple is relatively easy to work with either machine or hand tools. However, because of its density, it tends to burn when cut with high-speed saws. Maple turns and glues well. Because of its low porosity, you need a pre-conditioner or a gel stain when staining because it tends to produce blotches.
  • Other Uses: Because of its density and hardness, maple can be an excellent cutting board, butcher block, or workbench material. For turned items that require hardness, such as baseball bats, maple makes an ideal material.

Vertical Douglas Fir

Vertical douglas fir flooring has a rich visual quality that designers and homeowners appreciate. It is considered a softwood species that responds beautifully to fine craftsmanship and finishing. Douglas fir can make durable flooring material if sawn to expose its vertical grain and bring out its attractiveness. With its rich, warm colors that age beautifully, it can last for decades with proper maintenance and care.

  • Color: The grain is usually straight and plain when quartersawn. Douglas fir is usually light brown with a shade of red or yellow with darker growth rings. Douglas fir is not sensitive to sunlight but darkens with an oil-based finish over time. 
  • Toughness: With a Janka rating of 660, it is at the bottom of the Janka hardness scale. However, it is stiff and robust for its weight, making it among the hardest softwoods available commercially in the United States. 
  • Rot and Insect Resistance: Douglas fir is moderately durable but can last as long as most domestic hardwood species with proper treatment and maintenance. However, it is susceptible to insect attack if untreated.
  • Workability: Douglas fir is easy to machine or to work with hand tools. It can accept staining easily and glues well.
  • Other Uses: Its attractive patterns and color make it a good veneer and plywood material. It is widely available as construction lumber.

Hickory

Also referred to as pecan, hickory is the hardest domestic hardwood species available for flooring. Hickory used to be a popular flooring option before being overtaken by both oak varieties. Because of its toughness and hardness, hickory is a preferred material for engineered wood. Hickory wood tones vary significantly between the heartwood and sapwood, giving it a distinct character you won’t find in oak.

  • Color: The heartwood and sapwood contrast greatly, with the heartwood being light to medium brown and the sapwood having a paler yellowish hue giving it a rustic appearance. Using thinner planks of Hickory may make your flooring look overly busy.
  • Toughness: With a Janka rating of 1820, it is the hardest domestic hardwood species in the market.
  • Rot and Insect Resistance: The heartwood is more prone to decay than the sapwood, and it tends to be more susceptible to insect attack. You should consider treating the wood thoroughly to make it last for decades.
  • Workability: Custom staining hickory correctly may require the skills of a specialist. Because of its hardness, hickory is a challenge to work with and can blunt cutting edges. Water popping is needed to ensure that the stain is fully absorbed by the wood.
  • Other Uses: Hickory is a preferred material for golf club shafts, lacrosse sticks, drum sticks, walking sticks, bows, and paddles. It can also make excellent hammer and ax handles. Hickory is also a popular wood for smoking, barbecuing, and curing meat.

Walnut

The American black walnut and its variations are some of the most beautiful hardwood species in the United States. If it suits your tastes, its deeper color gives a room a warm and sophisticated feel. This species is more expensive than most domestic hardwoods because of its color, which closely resembles exotics. American walnut is comparatively soft among domestic hardwood species, though it is considered durable because of its resistance to decay.

  • Color: Heartwood ranges from a lighter shade of brown to a darker chocolate brown with specks of purple. The color darkens with age or when exposed to light. 
  • Toughness: With a Janka rating of 1010, it is comparatively softer than most domestic hardwood species.
  • Rot and Insect Resistance: Walnut is very durable because of its resistance to decay. However, it is susceptible to termite attacks without proper treatment.
  • Workability: Walnut is typically easy to work with if the grain is straight and regular. However, it is challenging to plane when working over irregular or figure grains. Even as plane boards, it has a much better dimensional stability than working with oak. Though walnut is rarely stained, it finishes and takes stains very well.
  • Other Uses: Walnut is lightweight compared to most hardwoods making it a preferred material for gunstocks. Its lovely color and ease in workability make it a popular choice as a material for cabinets, furniture, interior paneling, and turned items.

Conclusion: Find the Best Wood for Flooring in Los Angeles at Bohnhoff Lumber Co.

Bohnhoff prides itself on being in the specialty woods supply business for over a century. We know lumber, and we make sure that you can get any lumber material you require for your flooring needs. Aside from the species of woods discussed in this article, we also have other wood species that can be suitable flooring materials such as ash and purple heart, or exotic hardwoods such as mahogany, padauk, teak, red balau, afromosia, and many others. There are also a variety of softwoods available in our lumber yard, such as cedar and pine, that you can use as a flooring material.  We also have other wood products that can suit your woodworking needs such as plywood, edge tapes, slabs, tops, glues, and finishes. Our staff is knowledgeable with lumber and can recommend the types and species best suited to your project. Whether you are an amateur DIYer or a seasoned builder, rest assured that Bohnhoff lumber can help you find what you need.