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Selecting the Perfect Hardwood: A Look at 4 Key Species

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For many, nothing quite compares to the natural beauty and toughness of hardwood flooring. Its utility and look have been trusted for centuries across many industries. However, the choices can be overwhelming when choosing the right species for your project.

In this blog, we aim to make the task of choosing the right hardwood flooring easier by exploring four popular species used in homes today and discussing the unique characteristics of their natural finishes.

Hardwood Characteristics

No matter what type of wood you choose, it is important to note that the characteristics of this material will vary slightly depending on the batch and milling process. One tool used to measure the suitability of a hardwood species for flooring is the Janka hardness test. This test determines the force required to embed a steel ball into the wood, represented in pound-force (lbf). 

While there is no official minimum measurement for a species to be considered a hardwood, 1,000 lbf is often cited as the industry standard. 

Red Oak

With a 1,290 pound-force (lbf) measurement on the Janka Hardness Scale, red oak is a fairly strong hardwood known for its versatility and responsiveness to stain, often described as possessing the perfect combination of hardness and workability. 

Its light colour and distinctive red hue, coupled with a straight grain pattern can add a subtle pop of colour to any space without appearing overly busy. Red oak also boasts a level of strength and durability that allows it to hold up under the pressure of heavy furniture, making it a great choice for living spaces and high-traffic areas.

White Oak

Measuring in at 1,360 lbf on the Janka Scale, the white oak is slightly harder than its cousin, the red oak. Contrary to its name, the white oak is slightly darker in colour. If you are looking for durable hardwood flooring that can add a traditional touch to any living space, white oak might be the right choice for you.

For centuries, the white oak has been a staple in the wine and spirits industry. Its tight pore structure makes it the perfect choice for constructing waterproof barrels. This same characteristic ensures durability and moisture resistance, making white oak flooring suitable for areas that may face occasional spills or moisture.


A very durable option, maple measures in at 1,450 lbf on the Janka Scale, the highest on this list. As the go-to option for basketball courts and gymnasium floors, maple has a record of standing up to tough tests. Its subtle grain and light colour make it a great choice for those looking to add a clean, natural look, while its proven toughness can give homeowners peace of mind when choosing maple for high-traffic areas.

Black Walnut

Black walnut is a softer hardwood, measuring 1,010 lbf on the Janka Scale. It is darker in colour and known for its rich, elegant look. In music, black walnut is chosen for constructing high-end instruments like guitars and violins, appreciated for its superior sound resonance and aesthetic appeal. This same rich texture and visual elegance make black walnut a sophisticated choice for flooring, offering a warm, inviting atmosphere with its beautiful swirled grain patterns. Despite being a premium option, the distinctive look and feel of black walnut flooring can elevate the character of any living space.

Trust Rome Flooring to Find the Perfect Hardwood

Here at Rome Flooring, we boast over 50 years of experience in the flooring industry and pride ourselves in our unrivalled passion for our craft. If you’re looking to add a unique hardwood to your home, we’re happy to lend a hand when it comes to picking the right material and completing the installation. Contact us to learn more.