What are the Different Types of Wooden Flooring?

Lou Paun

The beauty of wooden flooring is undeniable. The natural color and grain pattern of wood gives a feeling of warmth and welcome to any room, whether the wood is laid in intricate patterns or long planks. Choosing wooden flooring can be a challenge, because wood floors are categorized in several different ways.

Wooden flooring may be sealed with varnish to make for easier maintenance.
Wooden flooring may be sealed with varnish to make for easier maintenance.

The most common way to describe wooden flooring is by the species of wood used -- for example, oak flooring or maple flooring. Almost any species of wood can be used as flooring, although hard woods are the most durable. The hardness of wood is measured by the Janka Scale, which designates Brazilian ebony as the hardest of woods commonly used for flooring and pine as one of the softest. Oak, ash, and maple are popular for wooden flooring because they are both hard and readily available.

The hardness of wood used for flooring can be measured on the Janka Scale.
The hardness of wood used for flooring can be measured on the Janka Scale.

The style in which the wood is laid is another method of describing wooden flooring. Wide plank flooring, with thick planks cut from logs in varying widths, is the most ancient style, and some floors made this way are still in use hundreds of years later. Ordinary plank flooring is made of long wood pieces wider than three inches (7.6 cm), laid to give a uniform look to the floor. Strip flooring, made with shorter pieces about two and one-quarter inches (5.7 cm) wide, is most common type of wooden flooring today. Parquet flooring uses several species of wood laid to make a pattern.

The thickness of the floorboards is another way to describe wooden flooring. Antique wide plank flooring was usually very thick and could withstand wear and rough use. Solid wood flooring pieces are usually between 3/4 and 3/8 inches (1.9 and 0.95 cm) thick. At the upper end, these floors can last for generations and be refinished many times. Wood veneer flooring, also called engineered wood flooring, has several thin layers of wood, usually three or five, glued together; the top layer is normally of a particular attractive wood. This is the least durable wooden flooring, but it is widely available and relatively inexpensive.

Wooden flooring can also be described by the kind of finish applied to the floor. Surface finishes, where the floor is first stained and then sealed with varnish, are the most traditional and least durable. These floors are usually waxed to give additional protection, and they may be re-stained and sealed when worn. Today, penetrating finishes are popular. These finishes actually penetrate the wood and bond with it to provide long-lasting color and a hard finish. Often specially formulated cleaning agents are needed to care for floors with this kind of finish.

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Discussion Comments


Real wooden flooring is beautiful, but you should be aware that properly maintaining these types of flooring is not as easy as say maintaining carpet. If you vac the carpet regularly and get it cleaned once or twice a year then you are in good shape.

You have to be more careful not to scratch the wooded flooring, and you need to keep it oiled to help prevent scuffing and scratching. Most of the scratches we have on our wood floors are the result of sliding furniture. Coasters are recommended with the heavier pieces of furniture.


Some of the laminate wood flooring that you see in the stores today looks so much like wood that unless someone told you it was not real wood you would not know. The laminate comes is a variety of styles and colors and it is one of the relatively easier wooden floor installations you will ever have. The pieces fit together like a puzzle, a numbered puzzle.


I always thought all wooden floors was considered hardwood flooring. I didn't know some wood floors were made from hardwood and some were made from softwood. The article mentions the most popular and durable hardwoods that you can choose for flooring. There's a reason oak and maple and the others listed are very popular. They are durable and attractive.

However, if you are on a tight budget, you might want to shop around for some of the more durable softwood flooring options, which can be just as attractive and less costly.

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