What You Need to Know About Hardwood Flooring

Door Number One or Door Number Two

Behind the first door is softwood flooring. It generally comes from cedar, pine or fir. Since this lumber shoots toward the sky so quickly, it’s not a dense wood. There’s your downside: Softwood isn’t going to take much punishment. In the plus column, softwoods are extremely sustainable and are seriously beautiful.

Door number two gives us hardwood flooring. Just the opposite of their softy counterparts, they’re slow growers – meaning they’re thick and dense. This durability makes the lumber an easy choice for builders who want something to last a long, long time.

One of the hardest of the hard – which is also eco-friendly – comes to us from South America. It’s called ipe (EE-pay) and it’s solid as a rock.

How do you know one hardwood from the other? We’ve created a handy little chart that is based on the Janka Hardness Scale. This test measures the resistance of wood and how it withstands denting and wear. It’s a way to see how much force is required to embed an 11.28 mm (0.444 in) steel ball into wood up to half the ball’s diameter.

Hardwoods Chart


Final Thoughts

There are a bunch of matters you want to know about hardwood flooring before you set your sights on this material. Not to fret. It’s all good:

  • O.K., we fibbed. There is a drawback. Unless you slap-down some foam or cork before you install it, it will squeak and can be kind of noisy to those who live on a floor beneath the one where the hard-stuff is installed.


  • As we mentioned above, never set it immediately atop concrete. You should lay them over joists and some soundproofing materials.


  • If you were to lay-down an approved under floor radiant heat system, it will keep your toes toasty-hot. Can’t say that about a carpet of a natural stone unit.


  • Everything changes over the passage of time. You should like this. A ding, dent or scratch lends personality. Although with something like ipe, person-made defects are not going to be that easy to make.


  • While there’s a certain uniformity to every plank you use, they are all unique. This is another thing you should like. It basically means that you are 100% likely to never see the same pattern on someone else’s floor.



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