Wooden Flooring Options: Characteristics of Common Species
One of the first decisions that any homeowner must make when it comes to wooden flooring is selecting between hardwood and softwood. Although wooden flooring is often referred to as “hardwood flooring,” there are some types available that actually consist of softwoods instead.
Three of the most commonly used types of softwood are fir, birch and pine. Many homeowners gravitate towards pine because they like the way its softness can make it easy to work and repair. Pine is simple to maintain and quite easy to make fit, even in tricky situations that require complex cuts. This ease of installation is related to its softness, which makes it almost malleable.
Birch is also soft. Like pine, it tends to have a great many knotholes along with a grain that is mostly straight and uniform. Fir, in contrast, tends to have large areas of darker grain, giving it a less uniform appearance overall. Fir is most often found from reclaimed sources.
Among the most popular hardwood choices available are oak, maple, cherry, ash and walnut. Of these, maple and ash tend to have the lightest colour, while maple also has the least obvious grain. Walnut, in contrast, has strong veins and a dark, vibrant colour that can lend warmth and comfort to any room it graces. Cherry finishes well with a variety of stains that can emphasise the fine nature of its characteristically tight grain.
Both softwoods and hardwoods benefit from regular maintenance in the form of floor sanding and polishing.