If you’re looking for beautiful, durable wood that will stand the test of children, pets, and time, have you thought about hickory flooring? This North American wood is one of the hardest domestic woods available. Because of its longevity and popularity, hickory flooring can increase the net value of your home.
There are 18 species of hickory and 15 of them are native to the Eastern US. They are nut-producing, with the pecan being the most notable, and the most edible. Pecan is also noted for its beauty and, as with other hickory species, is the ideal choice for flooring.
Hickory Flooring, a Distinctive Hardwood Beauty
Hickory hardwood flooring is known for its dramatic look. The extreme color of dark brown baseboards contrasts with the extreme white-cream boards. When homeowners brag about their wood flooring, they’re usually raving about hickory.
Color, Grain, and Texture
Hickory hardwood has a varied grain pattern that is unique and widely different from oak and maple. It has a rougher texture, which makes it a favorite for use in cabins and rustic decorations, with a color that varies from light blonde to amber and golden browns in higher grades. It can vary widely in color, even within the same plank, and will darken somewhat over time.
Hickory flooring planks laid next to each other can be quite different in color and pattern, making hickory a distinctive choice for homeowners who want striking detail for the interior design of their home.
Hickory is typically preferred in a wider plank, which shows off the grain’s diversity and adds interest to the larger room design. Overall, it lends a striking accent that can improve the look of a whole room.
Remember, each flooring type has several grades, so there is a wide range of colors available. Less expensive grades have more mineral deposits, knots, and imperfections, but some homeowners prefer the complexity it adds to the flooring. Stains are another factor that can greatly change the color of a wood from its natural, unfinished look.
Wood Hardness Rating
Oak and maple are top picks for many homeowners due to the woods’ beauty and hardness. Hickory, also attractive, outscores both of them on the Janka scale. Janka is a widely accepted rating system of wood hardness, with lower numbers being softer and higher numbers harder.
Hickory is at the top of the list among domestic hardwoods, rated at 1820. White oak comes in at 1360, red oak at 1290 and maple at 1450. Hickory is more than five times harder than aspen wood, a softwood that lives at the very bottom of the list.
Why is this important? Harder woods are more resistant to everyday wear and tear. Dirt and grit, pet toenails, dropped crockery, appliances, furniture, and a wealth of additional household items can scratch, ding, and even gouge softer woods. Hickory makes an excellent choice for entrances, hallways, and other high-traffic areas in the home.
Pros of Hickory Flooring
For those who prefer beautiful, natural-looking wood floors, hickory is the perfect option. Additional pros include its resistance to damage and its affordability.
Grown and harvested in the US, hickory is slightly more expensive than oak and maple, but much less expensive than exotic hardwoods like santos mahogany and tigerwood. Hickory prices do not have to account for shipping fees, which are added to the price tag when importing exotic hardwoods.
It also accepts stains well, which can be easily applied during the installation process.
Cons of Hickory Flooring
Hickory’s density rates as a plus for wear and tear, but it makes for more difficult installation. It’s tough to cut and professional installation should be considered for any hickory flooring purchase. If you’re a DIYer, you will need special cutting and woodworking tools to tackle this job.
As with any hardwood, hickory, sometimes called a “squirely wood,” can shift and move from moisture, so we highly recommend moisture control if your choose hickory flooring. Although the flooring typically has a polyurethane coating to make it water resistant, it’s not impervious to water damage.
Solid Hardwood or Engineered Planks
You can choose hickory flooring as a solid hardwood or as engineered planks. Engineered wood is essentially quality plywood topped by a hardwood veneer with a mil thickness of 2, 3, or 4.
Engineered planks are slightly more resistant to contracting and expanding compared to solid hardwood. As a general rule, smaller density wood (such as a veneer) is not going to be affected as much by humidity range changes as a large, solid piece of wood.
High-quality engineered planks can be more expensive than solid hickory due to the technology involved in manufacturing them. You can find cheap engineered planks in big box stores, but the veneer will typically have a mil thickness of only up to 1, and will not stand the test of time.
Caring for Hickory Floors
A hickory surface generally resists the effects of dirt and grime, so you won’t need to worry about ground-in dirt. For mopping, we recommend using a damp – not wet – microfiber mop and spray cleaner so that the wood flooring is never saturated with water. We recommend using a small area rug to protect the floor from spills. Spills and leaks should be mopped up immediately.
Like other wood floorings, you will need to refinish it periodically during its lifetime to maintain its strength and beauty. Even engineered planks with a mil thickness of 2, 3, or 4 can be re-sanded when needed for a renewed look.
Your initial investment in hickory flooring is typically more expensive than carpeting, linoleum, and other flooring options, but the wood’s durability makes it a much longer-lasting choice with better overall value.
If you are in the market for new flooring, use Harman’s hardwood wizard to preview your choices and determine which look you prefer. Our customer service staff is always happy to help as well; contact us anytime at 585-546-1221.