Hardwood Flooring Guide

Our huge selection features hardwood from the leading manufacturers, including Lauzon, Kahrs, Mannington, Northern, Preverco, Shaw, Muskoka and Verywood. Plus, Alexanian installs everything we sell.

Considered by many to be the ultimate in flooring beauty and value, hardwood floors have truly timeless appeal. Not only can they last for decades, but they also offer an unparalleled aesthetic quality. Hardwood floors are warm and elegant, lending a richness of character anywhere they’re installed. They’re also versatile enough to work with any design sensibilities. Today, hardwood floors are especially popular choices in living, dining and family rooms. Use the below hardwood floor buying guide to determine which type is the right fit for you.

Shop by Type

There are two basic types of construction-grade hardwood flooring, Solid Wood Plank and Engineered Wood Plank.

Solid Wood Plank

Solid hardwood plank flooring is made from milled lumber and usually sanded and refinished to maintain its natural beauty. This flooring option enhances the beauty of a home with rich warmth and elegance. It’s also fairly easy to maintain and can last for decades. Solid wood plank flooring options are as numerous as the types of harvested trees — from silver maple to natural red oak to hickory.

While hardwood flooring is prized for its durability, it cannot handle high-moisture environments. For this reason, solid wood planks will usually work best in main living areas and bedrooms rather than kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms or basements.

Engineered Wood Plank

Engineered wood plank flooring offers the beauty of wood, but in a manufactured format. The process creates an attractive, resilient product that not only looks beautiful, but also is more impenetrable to water damage than traditional hardwood. Manufacturers achieve this by blending real wood with high-density fibreboard, plywood and/or softwood stickers.

When you’re looking for stylish flooring for high-moisture or below-grade environments such as basements, engineered wood floors can be a great choice. Like traditional hardwoods, they’re available in a wide variety of styles and tones to suit you.

Shop by Colour

One of the many benefits of wood flooring is its diversity of colour. Hardwoods not only come in a variety of natural shades, but they also may be stained or painted. When you’re trying to decide on the right shade of hardwood flooring for your home, you will want to think carefully. Light hues can brighten and enlarge a space, but dark ones can make it feel more refined or high-end. If you already know what wall colour you will be using in a room, it makes sense to choose a floor stain that will complement it.






Wood Species

There are an amazing variety of species available for flooring, both domestic and exotic. Each species has different properties and applications. In addition, there is usually a variety stains available for each species of wood. Below are some common species.

Red Oak – recognized for its hardness and shock resistance, exudes elegance with its unique, open and coarse grain, and its spectacular pattern.
Natural Colour: varies from light pink to dark reddish brown
Grain: Open coarse grain; porous areas

Hard Maple – Maple, both majestic and versatile, offers excellent manufacturing properties. This wood features a closed and uniform grain, and its annual growth rings remain fairly visible.
Natural Colour: Sapwood is ivory-white with a hint of reddish brown. Heartwood ranges from pale gray-brown to dark brown.
Grain: Grain is closed and uniform. Wood sawn tangentially reveals annual growth rings, seen as brown lines.

Yellow Birch – The natural colours of yellow birch lend in unique charm. Yellow birch has a grain that is similar to maple’s and it highly sought after in furniture and flooring.
Natural Colour: Sapwood is whitish, pale yellow or light reddish brown. Heartwood (duramen) can be light brown, dark brown or reddish brown.
Grain: Grain is similar to that of maple.

Ash – Ash, with its exceptional hardness, boasts superior characteristics compared to other hardwood species. It is straight-grained with highly visible annual growth rings.
Natural Colour: Sapwood is creamy white. Heartwood (duramen) can range from light to dark brown.
Grain: Annual growth rings are clearly visible (wood with porous areas). Grain is straight and coarse. It looks a lot like oak, but crisper and sharper.

Walnut – has a fine, mostly straight grain that sometimes displays attractive and decorative figures. This species can be treated to achieve a specific and unique character.
Natural Colour: Heartwood (duramen) ranges from light to dark rich brown. Sapwood is almost creamy which. Natural colour of this species will typically become lighter brown when exposed to light (patina).
Grain: Fine grain with sparse pores. Grain is normally straight, though sometimes with attractive irregularities that can be used decoratively.

Hickory – A natural beauty, originally from the forests of North America and also known as Pecan, is particularly strong, durable and stiff.
Natural Colour: Sapwood is white tinged with brown. Heartwood ranges from light to chestnut brown to reddish.
Grain: Somewhat coarse. The grain is usually straight but may also be wavy. Knots in hickory accentuate its natural character.

White Oak – White oak stands out for its resistance and beauty. Its annual growth rings produce a cathedral pattern, which is highly prized by architects and designers alike.
Natural Colour: Sapwood is light coloured. Heartwood ranges from light to dark chestnut brown.
Grain: Medium to coarse open grain. With a tangential cut, visible grain is two to three times longer than that in red oak. Tangential cut: annual growth rings form a very popular cathedral grain pattern.

Rift & Quarter White Oak – White oak stands out for its resistance and beauty. The radial cut brings out the linear appearance of the wood grain and creates a streamlined, trendy décor.
Natural Colour: Sapwood is light coloured. Heartwood ranges from light to dark chestnut brown.
Grain: Medium to coarse open grain. Radial cut (quartersawn and Rift & Quarter) emphasizes the straightness of the wood grain.

Sapele – Originally from tropical Africa, Sapele is similar to Mahogany. Its colour stays rich over time and is great for flooring.
Natural Colour: Sapwood is white or pale yellow. Heartwood is pink when just cut, but becomes brown-red with time. Natural colour of this species will typically become darker when exposed to light (patina)
Grain: Grain is fine and wavy.

Hardwood Appearances

When being made, a hardwood floor goes through a mechanical proves that creates a special texture on the wood’s surface. It can be smooth, rugged or somewhere in between.

Pure – A blend of wood with minor colour variations.
Natural Colour: Lighter and more uniform.

Nuance – A blend of wood with moderate colour variation.
Natural Colour: Relatively uniform with slight variations in colour.

Variation – A blend of wood with pronounced colour variation that combines all the natural colours of heartwood and sapwood. Darker and more visible wood grain.
Natural Colour: All colour variations

Variation with knots – A blend of wood with pronounced colour variation that combines all the natural colours of heartwood, sapwood and knots. Darker and more visible wood grain.
Natural Colour: All colour variations

Hardwood Textures

When being made, a hardwood floor goes through a mechanical proves that creates a special texture on the wood’s surface. It can be smooth, rugged or somewhere in between.

Normal – This is a regular, pre-varnished wood floor texture.

Brushed – This texture accentuates the natural grain of the wood, all while camouflaging certain marks and scrapes and diminishing the appearance of wear and tear. The Brushed texture definitely forgive and stands the test of time. – A unique brushing process that accentuates the original grain and texture of the wood. This technique gives the wood a lot of texture and durable wear resistance.

Open Grain – A unique finishing technique that opens the softer and more porous grain to achieve the finished appearance of a light brushing therefore enhancing the natural beauty of stronger grain species.

Edge – Warm and authentic, older wood flooring has an unmatched timeless quality. – The edge texture features the look of an aged floor with years of life built into it, combined with the reliability of a new modern flooring product.

Wave – As though fashioned by the hands of a craftsman, this unique, wave-like texture makes for a stunning look. – Wood with a wave-like texture, for a striking effect, like it’s been made by a craftsman’s hand.

Hardwood Finishes

Semi – Semi-gloss finish made with aluminum oxide offers a shiny, slick look and is ultra-easy to clean

Satin – Satin-gloss finish made with aluminum oxide, gives off a subtle sheen that softly reflects light and is ultra-easy to clean.

Matte – Easy to clean, matte finish enhances the natural look of your hardwood floor. It is made with aluminum oxide and is perfect for high-traffic areas, busy families and pet owners as it better withstands scratches and marks.

Oiled Matte – Made essentially with natural oils, the oiled matte finish has been specially formulated to create a highly uniform look and ensure deep penetration within each plank. Easy to clean and revitalize if required, it enhances the natural look of the wood.

Wood Hardness

The Janka hardness test is a measurement of the force necessary to embed a 0.444-inch steel ball to half its diameter in wood. It is the industry standard for gauging the ability of various species to tolerate denting and normal wear.

Hardwood Benefits

Easy maintenance: Sweep or vacuum and an occasional cleaning with a wood floor cleaner.

Durability: Not easily scratched or dented – proper care of your hardwood floors can make them last decades!

Style: Available in a variety of colour and styles. Wood floors can elevate the elegance in your home and make the space look larger.

Allergy-friendly: Does not trap dust, animal dander, pollen, particulate matter or other common allergens.

Hardwood Terms

Cupping — When the edges of the flooring lift due to excessive moisture.

Moisture Content — How much moisture is absorbed into the flooring.

Pre-Finished — Flooring that is factory-finished; no finishing is necessary after installation.

Quarter Sawn — A log that is cut into four pie sections. Sections are then sawn perpendicular to the rings. The resulting vertical grain is more stable and beautiful.

Species — Refers to the type of tree from which wood flooring is made.

Acclimation — Letting flooring adjust to the environment in which it will be installed. This is crucial to prevent excessive expansion or contraction due to humidity or other job conditions.

UV-cured — Factory finishes that are cured with ultra violet lights instead of heat.

Polyurethane — A clear, tough and durable finish that is applied as a wear layer.

Acrylic-urethane — A slightly different chemical makeup than polyurethane, but with similar benefits.

Ceramic — Advanced technology allows the use of ceramics to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.

Aluminum Oxide — This is added to the urethane finish for increased abrasion resistance of the wear layer.

Acrylic Impregnated — Acrylic monomers are injected into the cell structure of the wood to give it increased hardness, then finished with a wear layer over the wood.

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