Differences in Wood Flooring Species

Making the decision to invest in hardwood flooring is big and you want to know exactly what you are getting into. The flooring type (aka species) you pick is crucial, with each type serving a different purpose with its unique characteristics. No matter which hardwood flooring option you choose, there are important steps needed to take care of them.The last thing you want to do as a homeowner is to pick a wood type that does not work well for your space or choose a flooring that you cannot provide proper maintenance for. 

We’ve put together a complete list of different flooring species, as well as pros and cons to each so that you know exactly what to ask for!

White Oak

White Oak is another hardwood type that brings a light airiness to a room. Its neutral color and tight grain make it easy to decorate and design within the space. It differs from its counterpart, red oak, in having a more “yellow” undertone and is less susceptible to water damage. 

Pros: More accepting of stains/treatments, affordable, available in multiple “cuts”

Cons: Not as unique

Red Oak

Contrasting to its counterpart, White Oak, Red Oak offers more of a pinkish tone to its pattern. Red Oak has more swirls and patterns that make it more unique. On the Janka scale, Red Oak rates 1,290, which makes it a great balance between its hardness and workability (maintenance, install, etc). Red Oak is the most popular species for flooring, trim work, interior doors & cabinetry.

Pros: Easy maintenance, distinctive look

Cons: Over used in the industry, easier to dent, 


A Hickory hardwood floor allows for lots of character within a space. It can come in many different contrasting colors without staining, distinct grains and natural knots within the material. When you pick a natural hickory, it can immediately brighten your space with its light to medium brown hues.

Pros: Most durable hardwood, low-maintenance

Cons: Pricey, demands consistent humidity levels 


Maple hardwood flooring is great for big open spaces with its subtle to almost non-existent grain pattern. If you’re someone who prefers a clean finish, then this flooring type is a great option for you. Maple provides a classic hardwood flooring look that can be achieved easily through installation using a professional flooring expert.

Pros: Affordable, durable

Cons: Doesn’t hide abuse as well as other species, Demands consistent humidity levels


Walnut flooring is known for providing a warm, rich tone to a space. It adds coziness with its dark color, having the ability to hide imperfections within it as well. Walnut, along with Hickory,  is one of the most classic and timeless types of hardwood species you can get for your home. 

Pros: Water resistant, hides imperfections

Cons: Pricey, prone to scuffing/scratching, softer species for denting


If customizability and uniqueness aren’t that important to you, then a prefinished wood floor may be your best option. Prefinished flooring are planks that are ready to be installed with no maintenance needed after installation made with manufactured stain and sealant on each plank.They come in a variety of limited wood types such as; oak, pine, maple, and more depending on your provider. 

Pros: Faster installation, affordable

Cons: Difficult to repair, seams do not seal

Other (E.g.; Exotics, Heartpine, Reclaimed, etc.)

Looking for something a little different than your average hardwood? At Barnum, we can accommodate flooring projects that may include exotic wood types, Heartpine, Reclaimed, and more. This is a great option if you’re someone who loves to add character and spontaneity to your space with exotics and fir. If you want a more industrial look, then reclaimed is the way to go.

Pros: Unique, customizable

Cons: Pricey, specialized maintenance

Choosing the Right Hardwood For You

At Barnum Floors, we are experts in the hardwood flooring industry. With our highly-knowledgeable team, we are able to assess what the best option is for you and your home. Get in touch with us today and let’s begin picking out the hardwood flooring of your dreams! In the meantime, check out our blog on the benefits of using a local wood craftsman to take care of your hardwood flooring needs.