Oak Vs. Birch Vs. Hickory for Wood Flooring

... Choose from a wide range of woods for your hardwood flooring.

Wood flooring offers a wide variety of choices in terms of wood types, plank sizes and colors to suit every décor. Selecting wood flooring from this vast array of materials can be confusing when it comes to the hardness of the different types of wood and their wear capabilities. Differences between oak versus birch versus hickory, for instance, can be significant in terms of lifestyle and maintenance needs.

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Advantages of Oak Flooring

Oak wood naturally has a fine grain that makes an attractive flooring surface. It comes in a variety of color tones that makes decorating around your oak floors easy. The oak colors are generally warm and neutral, adding to an elegant feel. Oak is also a very strong wood material that is durable and resists scratching. It is easy to maintain with simple sweeping and dusting. Oak generally does not contain harmful dyes and preservatives that can be a problem for sensitive individuals and those with allergies, according to the Contempo Floor Covering site.

Disadvantages of Oak Flooring

Oak flooring has a tendency to darken over time, which means some homeowners may not end up with the same color they liked when they chose the flooring initially. Oak can also fade in color when exposed to prolonged sunlight. Careful use of curtains around the flooring can help prevent this problem.

Advantages of Birch Flooring

Birch hardwood flooring comes in a variety of shades, from pale yellow to reddish-brown. It resists wear moderately well and provides a warm and attractive flooring surface that goes with a variety of décor styles.

Disadvantages of Birch Flooring

Birch flooring choices are not as widely available as other hardwood types. The variations in grains that are natural to the wood, such as the lighter sapwood and darker heartwood, may not suit those who prefer a uniform coloring. Some birch woods are also softer and may scratch more easily under heavy foot traffic. Birch does not resist moisture well and may show separation in the planks after being exposed to moisture.

Advantages of Hickory Flooring

Hickory is a tough and durable wood for flooring. It comes in a range of tones, from light tan to reddish-brown and variations in between. The hardness of hickory wood makes it a good choice for family rooms, play rooms and other high-traffic areas.

Disadvantages of Hickory Flooring

Hickory wood naturally has variations in coloring and a more rustic appearance that may not go with more sophisticated decorating styles. Some people may not like the unevenness of tones in the wood. Because it is a very dense wood that is difficult to work with, it must be installed by a professional contractor, according to The Flooring Site.