Choosing the right species of wood flooring is strictly a matter of style, budget and personal preference. More than 50 domestic and imported species of wood are available to achieve a unique look.
Dark woods, such as walnut or mahogany, generally make a room seem more stately and refined.
Medium woods, including hickory and oak, create a warm and cozy feel for any space.
Light woods, such as ash or maple, usually make a room appear more open and airy.
Exotic species can offer even more color options. Bubinga, which originates in Africa, can appear pink, red or reddish brown, with purple streaks or veins. Australian Cypress ranges from cream-colored sapwood to honey-gold heartwood, with dark brown knots and holes throughout. Burmese Teak from Asia varies from yellowish brown to a dark, golden brown.
Once you decide on a look, consider how the floors will be used. Are you a retired couple living alone or do you have a busy family with young children and pets? Each wood species is rated for its hardness and durability using the Janka scale.
The Janka scale gives a good indication of how likely a wood is to dent or show other wear. For example, domestic black cherry is ranked at 950 on the Janka scale, while Brazilian cherry is ranked much higher at 2,820, nearly three times the hardness of the domestic species. Black cherry would be a good choice for an older couple because their floor will see less traffic, while the Brazilian cherry might be best for the busy family with small children and an active pet.