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Intro to reno: A look at hardwood flooring

Under the header of hardwood flooring, there are many different types, textures and wood species to choose from. For new homeowners, or those who have never really given flooring much thought, the sheer volume of choices may seem to be a bit intimidating. That is why it’s a good idea to do your homework first; even though  flooring experts are typically on hand  in both flooring and big box home renovation stores.

With that in mind, here is a look at the different types of hardwood flooring, flooring textures and some of Canada’s most popular wood species for flooring.

Types of Hardwood Flooring

Solid Wood

Solid hardwood flooring boards are each made from a single piece of wood, which can be sanded and refinished as needed. This type of flooring should not be used in basements or bathrooms.


Engineered hardwood flooring is hardwood at its core, with three to ten layers that have been glued together. Engineered hardwood tends to be more moisture resistant, making it less likely to buckle, gap or warp than solid. This makes it a better option than solid hardwood in places like basements or bathrooms.


Reclaimed wood flooring consists of wood products that have been previously manufactured and are being recycled either intact or as part of a new product. Reclaimed hardwood flooring can be made from wood sourced from old barns and beams, and wood barrels or salvaged logs.

Surface Textures and Finishes


hardwood flooring

Source: Build Direct

Smooth textured hard wood floors are lightly sanded to a pristine finish.  The look is flawless and the feel is soft to the touch. Smooth textured floors are among the most popular, if not the most popular.

Hand scraped

hardwood flooring

Source: Build Direct

Hand scraped flooring has a rustic, well-worn appearance. The finish isn’t perfectly smooth, but instead looks naturally distressed, and often has a distinct waved appearance. This texture is excellent for high traffic areas, since the naturally distressed appearance easily camouflages any minor scrapes, dents or scratches.

Wire brushed

hardwood flooring

Source: Build Direct

Wire brushed is another distressed hardwood texture. Wire brushed hardwood features a subtle texture, which is the result of a wire brush being pulled across the wood’s surface, leaving the heart wood exposed. Like hand scraped, wire brushed wood floors are great for high traffic areas, due to their ability to camouflage daily wear and tear.

Open Grain

Open-grain is not so much a texture that can be universally applied, but rather a texture that is specific to certain wood species. These woods have large pores, which can lend the appearance of a courser surface than that seen in smooth wood floors. Oak and hickory are considered open grain woods.

Piano Finish

A high-gloss finish that makes the floor look as if it has been covered in glass. This finish tends to be fairly high maintenance.


A more causal, matte appearance than the very formal gloss of a piano finished floor.


Pickling is also known as white-washing. This finish is created when a liming solution or wax is applied to the wood to give it a faded, aged appearance.

Common Hardwood Flooring Species

hardwood flooring

Different species of wood flooring are chosen based upon graining, colour variations and Janka hardness rating. The Janka hardness test measures the wood’s resistance to denting and wear. This is measured by embedding an 11.28 mm steel ball into wood to half the ball’s diameter. The higher the score, the more able the wood species is to tolerate wear and tear.

Ash – Janka Hardness 1320

The #3 hardest North American hardwood species, Ash is both stain and wear resistant.

Birch – Janka Hardness varies

There are two types of birch hardwood flooring: yellow birch and red birch. Yellow birch is made from the sapwood of the birch tree and is lighter in colour. Red birch is derived from the heartwood of the birch. Graining of Birch is generally fine with uniform curls and some boards may appear to be almost clear with little to no graining at all.

Cherry – Janka Hardness 950

Cherry wood flooring is much softer than many others; however, it has exceptional graining and colour.


A varied selection of different exotic hardwood species imported from countries around the world. Brazillian cherry, Tigerwood, Bamboo, and Tiete Rosewood are all types of exotic hardwood.

Hickory – Janka Hardness 1820

An extremely versatile hardwood flooring option, hickory has natural colour variations that can range from pale white to dark brown. Its higher Janka hardness rating also makes it a popular choice.

Maple – Janka Hardness 1450

Maple is a very pale, creamy white hardwood. Maple flooring can contain minimal to extreme brownish/black mineral streaks. Graining is very light and fine to the point of being barely discernible.

Red Oak – Janka Hardness 1290

Moderate to heavy grain, with moderate colour variations.

Walnut – Janka Hardness 1010

Walnut flooring has a rich, dark brown colour, with fine, straight graining. An exotic variation of walnut is Brazilian walnut, which has an exceptionally high Janka hardness rating of 3680. This high rating makes it an ideal choice for high traffic areas.

White Oak – Janka Hardness Rating 1360

White oak is similar to red oak but boasts a higher hardness rating on the Janka hardness scale. White oak flooring featured moderate graining with moderate colour variations.

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