Hardwood: The Ins and Outs

Many people do not know that there is more than one type of hardwood and that there are several things to consider when choosing a hardwood floor for your home.

 First of all, you should know that there are five major types of hardwood flooring: 

  • Pre-finished hardwood: pre-finished hardwood is without a doubt the more durable option because it will wear down less quickly due to the protective coating provided by the varnish. There are also several types of varnish finishes, including matte which looks very much like oiled flooring with a very low level of shine. There is also the satin finish which offers a medium shine, and the semi-gloss finish which is reflective and has a mirror effect. Despite what you may think, pre-finished hardwood is not necessarily less ecological.Certain manufacturers have developed new varnishes made from natural products(such as soya oil). 
  • Oiled hardwood: oiled hardwood is an ecological option because the oil is made with natural products. It allows the wood to retain its natural appearance and accentuates its grain and imperfections and has a rougher look due to its matte finish. However, taking care of pre-oiled hardwood is complex.Since the wood grain is directly accessible, it needs specific attention because it can retain dirt if not maintained properly.
  • Engineered wood: engineered wood reacts better to variations in humidity because it is more stable in design. As opposed to solid wood, this type of flooring is suitable for basements or heated flooring. Unlike other types of hardwood, engineered wood is made of several layers, of which only the top is 100% natural wood. 
  • Exotic hardwood: this type of hardwood offers a unique, bold look that the others do not. It comes from tropical regions, hence the exotic, and is often harder and denser that other types of hardwood. Jatoba, Tigerwood and Cabreuva are three types of exotic hardwood.
  • Ecological hardwood: ecological hardwood can have two certifications: FSC or LEED. An FSC-certified hardwood means that it has the ForestStewardship Council® certification proving that it originates from eco-responsible sources and is transformed responsibly. Specifically, it is a certification of the traceability chain. There is also a second FSC certification, for forest management, which certifies that the operational processes used meet the FSC’s pre-established social and environmental criteria. The LEED certification, on the other hand, affirms that an independent third party confirms that the product was created in a way that protects the environment.


There are many types of hardwoods: the range is impressive. The main hardwood varieties are:

  1. Maple
  2. Red oak
  3. Cherry birch
  4. White ash
  5. White oak 

Other varieties are also available such as:

  • Jatoba
  • Cabreuva
  • Tigerwood
  • Hickory
  • Walnut
  • Cherry
  • White pine


Hardwood colours vary from one variety to another. For example, maple is much lighter and paler than walnut. You should therefore look at the natural colour of a wood variety to see which one your find the most attractive. However, you also must consider that the final floor colour is also the result of the chosen tint, type of varnish and finish. HardnessEach variety of wood has its own level of hardness. It is therefore important to consider the hardness of the wood flooring depending on where it is to be installed. If the space is very busy, it would be better to choose a variety with a high level of hardness or another more suitable product (ceramics, laminate or vinyl flooring, etc.). A wood’s hardness is measured by the Janka test, which consists of measuring the pressure necessary to make a metal ball penetrate into the wood. The higher the pressure, the harder the wood. Below you will find the pressure levels of various varieties.

  • Jatoba: 2,350
  • Cabreuva: 2,220
  • Tigerwood: 2,160
  • Hickory: 1,820
  • Maple: 1,450
  • White oak: 1,360· White ash: 1,320
  • Red oak: 1,290
  • Yellow birch: 1,260
  • Walnut: 1,010
  • Cherry: 950
  • White pine: 380 

Hardwood is, and always will be, a material that provides warmth and richness, which makes it a wise choice which will defy time and trends.