There are many different wood species used for hardwood flooring — some are better suited for the wear and tear than others. Every type of wood is rated by its hardness on the Janka Hardness Scale. The higher the number, the harder the wood and the better suited it is for use as flooring. Here are a few of the most commonly used woods:
Relatively inexpensive and very easy to work with, pine can scratch and dent easily but lends itself well to a traditional rustic or log cabin look. Be careful using this if you have pets as they can scratch it over time.
A classic look with a wavy grain, oak can make a nice contrast with pine logs. Available in white oak or red oak, it’s a little more elegant than pine. You can save money and add some character by buying “cabin grade” oak with more knots and uneven grain. Cabin grade oak wood is perfectly good but some people object to the knots.
An environmentally-friendly alternative, bamboo is actually a fast-growing grass. Not only is it an easily renewable resource, the distinctive grain makes an exceptional statement. Bamboo is available in natural or “carbonized”, where it’s heated until sugars in the bamboo darken and accentuate the grain pattern. Carbonized bamboo is slightly softer than natural bamboo.
Douglas Fir has a very straight and even grain and is quite stable. It is widely available on the west coast and adds a traditional look to a log cabin. It’s not as hard as some of the other woods.
Hickory makes a very hard and long-wearing hardwood floor but it can be difficult to install. The wood tends to split when nailing and it’s hard to cut and machine. Once installed, the wavy, uneven grain and varied color add interest to the floor.
Brazilian cherry is an exceptionally hard wood that’s very high on the Janka Hardness Scale. It gives a more elegant, formal look to your log cabin and installs easily with a flooring nailer.
If you enjoyed reading about choosing the best type of wood to use for flooring, you may want to see where the wood rates on the Janka Hardness Scale or learn about other flooring choices.
Brian Gabriel is a licensed contractor, mechanical engineer and log home builder in the mountains of western North Carolina. He is the author and designer of the website Log Cabin Connection, created to offer advice, tips, ideas and resources related to log cabins.