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So many species: hard or soft hardwood?

The answer to that question will depend upon the hardness you seek. There are hardwood and softwood species.

The best way to determine hardwood strength is to examine the Janka Scale of Hardness. It is a rating system, with a soft-to-high rating. Also, be sure the label says that it’s appropriate for flooring.

American Rug is a family-owned company that’s been in existence since 1905. We handle both residential and commercial installation; no job is too big or too small for us. We are a full-service flooring company, with an extensive inventory and services that include professional installation, a fully trained sales staff, and competitive pricing.

Our showroom is in Holyoke, MA and we service the surrounding Springfield Metropolitan area. Our showroom is easily located right off of I-91 and offers convenient parking right up front.

Exotics tend to be the hardest. For domestics, the toughest are Maple, Oak, Beech, Ash, Cherry, Walnut, and Hickory.
Gorgeous hardwood flooring in Northampton, MA from American Rug
  • There’s both red oak and white oak, with the white version being higher on the Janka scale.
  • Maple is a sought-after choice for contemporary spaces, but it’s not as porous as others so it doesn’t take staining well. It is very resistant to scratches and dents, though. Maple hardwood is a good choice for natural-finish floors because the grains are subtle and there’s little color variation.
  • Hickory is selected more and more frequently, because of its rustic appearance. It also has a Janka rating as the hardest hardwood.
  • Cherry. This is usually left unstained, and consumers love American Cherry for its rich, warm shade. Its counterpart, Brazilian Cherry, is twice as strong as oak.
  • Beech. Durable, with a color range from white to reddish-brown, and an understated texture, beech makes a room feel youthful, airy and light.
  • Walnut. Although not as hard as the others, it is considered to be one of the most elegant hardwood species, with colors ranging from deep brown to an almost purplish-black, with patterns that feature straight grains and swirls.
  • Ash. The colors range from white to light tan to brown, but there’s a strong yellow tone in the entire palette which adds a lot of warmth to a room.

As for a softer wood, pine is the most classic for flooring, with a color palette ranging from white and yellow to brown and red. It is durable and can last up to 100 years. Other softwoods are fir, hemlock, cedar, spruce, and cypress.

Since softwoods come from fast-growing trees, they are considered the most sustainable and eco-friendly.

Softwoods are less expensive than hardwood, so it’s a little easier on the wallet.