About Hardwoods

Why choose hardwood flooring over other flooring systems?

Hardwood flooring has a natural beauty that will give any room a very warm feeling. When building a new home, adding an addition or just taking up old carpeting that doesn’t have a hardwood floor beneath, you should look at the wide variety of wood flooring available. Unlike carpet, 3/4″ thick wood flooring can take wear and tear and last well over 100 years with minimum maintenance (see our maintenance FAQs).

When the surface finish wears, or gets scratched over time, you can recoat or sand and refinish the floors to make them new again. The variety and colors of wood flooring available today, make it easy to find one that will compliment any design ideas you have. Hardwood Flooring is also the only floor covering that will add resale value to your home.


Decisions abound when selecting just the right floor for the rooms in your home. There are several species, colors and grain variations to consider. After walls, the floor represents the largest expanse of pattern and color in a room. The floor should compliment the fabrics, furnishings and accessories of the space, and enhance the unique personality of the room as a whole. Darker colors are most often used in formal or traditional interiors, while lighter colors work best in country, casual and contemporary settings.


The natural characteristics of wood include the grain pattern, dark gray or black marks and knots of various sizes. They result from the unique growth process of each species and are influenced by sunlight, soil and climate. Minerals can appear in several forms including light gray streaks across board and black lines in the grain. Grain patterns and knots both within and between species.

Wood is a natural material and exhibits a wide range of diversity of grain. Additionally, each plank or strip will absorb stain differently. Darker stains usually have a greater impact on masking the natural variations of the wood. The lighter the stain, the more prominent the natural characteristics will be. A white stain (pickling) shows the most variation between boards.

Grades & Styles

  • Lumber is graded based upon the intensity of variations of the characteristics described above, with clear grade exhibiting the least number of natural characteristics beyond the distinct grain pattern of each species.
  • Woods styles come in strips, planks, or parquet tiles with numerous edge treatments such as square, micro, and beveled edges. You can choose from a wide range of stains to complement your décor and from several types of finish.

Common Species

Some species of wood that are used for flooring include:

  • Red & White Oak
  • Maple
  • Walnut
  • Hickory
  • Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba)
  • South American Pearwood
  • Moabi
  • Douglas Fir
  • Heart Pine
  • Bamboo
  • Lyptus
  • Santos Mahogany
  • Brazilian Walnut (Sucupira/Ipe)
  • Tigerwood
  • Angelim
  • Royal Mahogany (Andiroba)
  • American Cherry


All tree species used for hardwood flooring are durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of daily life. However, this does not that mean wood will not dent. As a natural material, wood is made of thousands of cells. When the tree is alive, these cells are filled with water. When the tree is cut into lumber, the moisture in those cells is replaced with air. If a heavy object is dropped on the floor, the air filled spaces will compress, leaving a dent or gash. Heavy furniture and appliances, over time, will also compress and air filled cells of the wood.

Hardness is determined with the Janka rating system. This is the force it takes to drive a .444 inch steel ball to a depth where half the ball is imbedded into the wood. This is a relative hardness table for common hardwood floor materials. Do not take hardness to mean “best”.

Download Janka Hardness Scale

Material Relative Hardness
Douglas Fir 660
Yellow Pine 690
Southern Yellow Longleaf Pine 870
American Cherry 950
Black Walnut 1010
Heart Pine 1225
Birch 1260
Red Oak 1290
Beech 1300
Ash 1320
White Oak 1360
Maple 1450
Bamboo (average) 1820 (varies)
Hickory/Pecan 1820
Purple Heart 1860
Santos Mahogany 2200
Brazilian Cherry 2350


True hardwood flooring materials can be divided into two main groups. “Solid” wood is milled from a single piece of wood. “Engineered” wood consists of three or more layers of various in a cross-ply arrangment. Solid wood is generally used when installing over a wood subfloor where the hardwood will be nailed to the subfloor. Engineered wood is generally used when installing in basements or over slab concrete.


In the past, fir flooring was more economical than and oak (select). This explains the frequency of fir flooring in the greater Seattle area. Now, due to the dwindling of old growth resources, the opposite is true. Currently Fir is more expensive and oak (select) is more economical than fir, and therefore, is the most popular species of wood flooring being installed. There are a number of new flooring materials available today, many of which, are comparable in price to oak (select). Others, including many of the exotics, are more expensive. As wood prices vary on a daily basis, it is advisable to visit our showroom, check out some samples, and then we can provide up-to-date pricing.


The type of subfloor present in your home will also affect your decision about the type of wood flooring to be installed. Hardwood flooring systems can be installed on just about any hard surface, including: ceramic, vinyl, marble, concrete, plywood, wooden sub-floors and old hardwood flooring. Different types of hardwood flooring may be needed for different surfaces, so consult an expert at Seattle Floor Service before deciding.