Which wood is best for flooring?

You already have an idea of what flooring you want in your home but are not sure which type is the best. Choosing a specific flooring for your new home can be a difficult and sometimes confusing process. There are so many options to choose from, each with its own pros and cons.

different kinds of wood for flooring needs size

# Which type of wood flooring should you choose?

There are three main types of wood flooring to choose from: hardwood, engineered wood and laminate.

Each has its own benefits and drawbacks that need to be taken into account when choosing what type of flooring is right for you; different people find they prefer different types!

To help you out, we’re going to break down the differences in depth between each type of wood flooring and help you decide which one is best for your situation.

First, let’s look at what kinds of wood can be used to make flooring. 

Hardwood is the most common type, and it comes in a lot of different varieties. Oak, maple, cherry, and walnut are the most common hardwoods used for flooring. Each has its own unique characteristics and provides its own benefits to the floor. 

The best type of wood for flooring is a combination of four things: 

  • easy to clean
  • looks good
  • durable
  • affordable.

# Types of hardwood: Color, grain, and janka hardness

Once you’ve decided what type of wood is best for your situation, you’ll need to choose from the different varieties available. Each type of wood comes in a huge range of colors and grains. Even with the same type, the color and grain will change between different trees! 


Choosing the right color from a variety of colors can be very overwhelming. To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular hardwood colors. These are the most commonly used colors, but there are so many other types available.

The most popular colored wood is a mix of oaks and elms, both of which provide a warm earthy color to any wooden flooring. Beech and cedar are also well-liked because of their distinct brown and red hues, respectively.


The grain of wood is what makes it look pretty. This is why hardwood flooring is normally not installed directly onto the subfloor. Instead, they are laid down onto a plywood or OSB base so that they can be framed and sealed.

Most people prefer to choose a floor with a uniform appearance, which means that you’ll need to pick different types depending on what look you want for your home. Generally, think about what look you like in terms of grain pattern.

If you want a very natural, unadorned wood flooring, then choose a hardwood with straight grain – that is, one that has no warping. However, if you prefer to add aesthetic details such as knots or wavy grain lines to your flooring, then stick with wood with wavy grain.

Janka Hardness

Finally, the last thing to consider is the “Janka hardness” of the wood. This is a measurement on a scale of 1000 that determines how hard the wood is. Most people don’t have any idea what different hardness levels mean, so just remember to choose one that’s hard enough for your lifestyle.

Here’s a list of wood varieties and their Janka Hardness scale:

  • Red Oak – 1390
  • White Oak – 1360
  • Maple – 1220
  • Cherry – 1070-1190
  • Beech – 970-1090
  • Hard Maple – 961-1014
  • Walnut – 880-1020
  • Elm – 680-731
  • Cherry Burl – Unknown
  • Pine – 640-780
  • Black Ash – 620
  • Hemlock – 590-680
  • Birch – 530-590
  • White Pine – 500-560
  • Red Pine – 495-570
  • Yellow Pine – 450-550
  • Poplar – 410-430
  • Spruce – 370-400
  • Generic Hardwood – 360-390
  • Softwood – 340 to 380
  • Douglas Fir – 320 to 340 
  • Pine (Southern Pine) – 300 to 310
  • White Pine (white pine) – 290 to 300 
  • Soft Maple (Norway Maple)- 270 – 290

Red Oak is your best bet when it comes to a flooring option.

# Solid vs Engineered

Wood flooring is not just one thing. There are two basic types of wood flooring – Solid and Engineered.


Solid wood floors are those that don’t have a manufactured top surface or backing layer.

The decorative parts of a solid hardwood floor, such as inlay, nail heads, and mitered corners can be painted to match your décor if you choose to.

Solid hardwood can be more expensive than the engineered varieties, but it does have its benefits. 

This type of wood flooring is ideally suited for areas that get a lot of traffic, due to its durability and sturdiness. However, it isn’t always easy to clean and may be more difficult to install than other kinds. In addition, solid hardwood tends to be more expensive than engineered wood varieties. 


Engineered wood floors (sometimes called Engineered Logs or Engineered Lumber) are made from plywood, linoleum, or other engineered materials. Engineered hardwood flooring is not a fully natural product and as such it has less of its natural look and feel.

This is usually the most popular choice for people who don’t want to spend too much on their wood flooring, as it’s usually cheaper than solid hardwood types. 

Engineered varieties give you the same benefits that solid hardwoods do while still being much easier to maintain and clean! Also, engineered varieties can be glued down or nailed to the floor, making installation quick and simple for DIYers. 

Engineered wood floors come in a variety of solid colors or in a more traditional plank style; most homeowners prefer planks. Engineered flooring offers the benefit of handcrafted styling without requiring any installation skill on your part.

There are a lot of different engineered wood types to choose from, but most planks are 4×4 or 4×6 inches in size which is the perfect diameter for plank flooring.

# Plywood vs OSB vs Lumber

Engineered flooring is made from plywood, OSB (oriented strand board), and sometimes even lumber. These three materials are made in different ways, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Plywood is not solid on its own but rather made up of layers of hardwood strips. The layers alternate direction so that they do not bend as much.

OSB is made from small strands of softwood that have been compressed together. When compressed together, these strands are called “oriented strand board”. It is a much cheaper material than plywood and also less stiff. It also has a higher moisture tolerance than plywood, which makes it the better option for areas with high humidity. OSB is generally weaker than plywood because it has no cross-layers, but it does have a greater density.

Lumber is often used in engineered flooring as well. Lumber is easier to work with than plywood or OSB, but it has lower resistance to chemicals and moisture.

# Unfinished versus finished 

There are two main types of wood flooring: unfinished and finished. Both types of wood flooring have their advantages.


Unfinished hardwood floors can be sanded and stained to give them a beautiful finish before installation. This lets you choose a wood that has more of a unique look. This usually involves a lot of effort on your part, but in the end, the result will be a unique wood floor that will look great for many years to come.

Unfinished hardwood floors are more cost effective than a finished floor. They will also require less maintenance over time if you finish them yourself. This means that when you choose unfinished hardwood flooring, you can dedicate your time to building and stepping on your next masterpiece instead of worrying about superficial details like how to prepare the wood for staining.


Essentially, finished hardwood flooring is already sanded and stained. This makes it a good option for anyone who can’t handle the sanding themselves but still wants an elegant look for their house. Some types of wood flooring can have a lacquer finish applied to them instead of being stained, which is easier for the homeowner to install, but it provides less flexibility when it comes to the look of the final product.

Finished hardwood floors are less cost effective when compared to unfinished wood floors. The cost comes from the labor needed to finish them and the time it takes to install them. Finished wood floors are also more resistant to damage than unfinished ones because the edges can be sealed with a finish that adheres to the wood. Unfinished floors can be damaged by nails or tools, which are more likely to damage your floor and make it look less beautiful over time if left untreated.

# Laminate vs wood flooring

Laminate flooring is often considered when investigating wood flooring options. It is similar to hardwood, but it is usually not made of real wood. 

While laminate flooring isn’t made from real wood, it can offer a lot of the same benefits that real wood does. Laminate hardwood looks almost exactly like solid or engineered hardwood and can also be designed to look like different varieties of wood without the time and energy required for installing actual hardwood flooring.

# Conclusion

We’ve discussed the different types of wood flooring products in this guide. Some people think that it’s easier to choose the type of flooring based on the age range in the home, while others believe that it’s better to focus on what wood best fits your tastes. The main thing to keep in mind is the durability of the type of wood you choose. You should also consider what type of wood flooring is going to be best for your lifestyle. 

# Related Questions

1. How much is hardwood flooring?

Pricing can vary a lot depending on the type of wood you are purchasing. You can get engineered/laminate hardwood for as low as $5 per square foot (depending on the thickness), but with solid hardwood, you could be paying over $10 per square foot.

2. How much is real wood flooring?

Like laminate, the price of real wood will also depend on the type. Solid hardwood is generally more expensive than laminate or engineered varieties. On estimate the price of real wood per square foot is somewhere between $5-$7.

3. Does hardwood flooring stain easily?

While most hardwood types do not stain well, some types are easier than others. Hardwood with a grain pattern similar to that of red oak will stain very well. Beech and cherry will also stain very well, as they have a very distinctive pattern. However, other woods such as maple or cedar are less suitable for staining, as they don’t have a distinct grain pattern.

4. Can you use plywood for flooring?

Most of the time, yes. However, if you ever want to install real hardwood flooring in your home, you’ll need to use a specific hardwood plywood.

5. Can you use pallet wood for flooring?

Yes, you can use pallet wood for flooring. Most pallets today are made from a composite of wood, plastic, and other materials. If they are made from wood alone, you should be able to cut them up to create your own hardwood flooring.

6. How much can I install a board?

Most people go by the standard 4×4 or 4×6 board, which is one inch thick and four feet long. This is usually two to three boards in width, depending on the style of board. 

However, if you’re installing an engineered hardwood flooring like those in a plank or a tile, you can use boards that are slightly longer or shorter (depending on the type of wood). The only restriction is that you can’t go below 4×4 inches with hardwood planks.

7. How thick is real hardwood flooring?

In general, most hardwood floors sold today are 1-inch thick. However, there are some boards that are a little thinner, like the ones found in laminate and engineered varieties.

8. What is the standard size of wood planks?

Most flooring manufacturers have their own standards for wood planks. While each type of wood has its own dimensions and thicknesses, you can usually expect planks to be around 4 inches wide and somewhere between 6 to 12 inches long.

9. How do I change the color of my hardwood floor?

Hardwood floors have a natural color and grain pattern that are beautiful in many different types of light. However, this is one of the hardest things about installing one of these floors. 

If you want to change the color of your floor, there are two main options: sanding and staining. Sanding is a much cheaper solution, but it will also make your floors susceptible to damage. Staining is not permanent, so there are no long-term repercussions, but it comes with a higher price tag.

10. What is the most durable wood for flooring?

Depending on the type of wood you use, one plan can be more durable than another. However, there are a few standards for durability that most types of wood flooring adhere to. Red Oak is the best choice for flooring if your home is prone to fires. This hardwood withstands years of wear and tear and maintains its beautiful finish consistently over time.

11. Which wood has the best sound dampening properties?

Wood floors will absorb sounds from footsteps and other vibrations in your home. Depending on the type of wood you use, this can be a good or bad thing. Red Oak and other similar choices tend to absorb sound better than more vibrant types of wood flooring.

12. What is the most scratch resistant wood flooring?

Scratches can be reduced by using a hardwood floor that has a soft finish or a clear coat. However, if you’re looking for the most scratch resistant, then you can’t go wrong with Red Oak and similar varieties. They are able to withstand the abuse of tools and other objects that might dull the edges on your flooring over time.

13. What color wood floor makes a room look bigger?

A darker wood floor can make a room look smaller, but light or neutral colors can counteract this. Light colors will make your room appear larger because they will reflect the light in your room better than darker floors.

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