Hardwood is a classic flooring material much sought after by homeowners. If you are thinking about hardwood for your home, the species of wood is the foremost factor you need to consider. Wood species are classified as softwood or hardwood, and care should be taken to ensure you are investing cost-effectively. (Refer to the Janka hardness scale to make it easier to choose the species most suited to your home.) Hickory is among the hardest and most cost-effective woods available.
This post includes everything you need to know about shopping for hickory flooring for your home.
Characteristics and Advantages
Hickory is characterized by its hardness, unique graining, and texture. Some of the characteristics and advantages of hickory wood to keep in mind before buying include:
Hickory has a Janka hardness rating of 1820 and is among the hardest woods found in North America. Due to its hardness, it does not scratch, dent, or split, and will last for a long time. Though maple, oak, and pine are among the most popular domestic species for flooring, hickory is the best choice if hardness is a priority. This species is so durable that it is also used to make baseball bats and golf clubs.
- Unique grain
Hickory floor planks display a unique grain in colours like white, red, brown, and tan. There are mineral streaks as well which impart an antique look. If you want rustic-looking hardwood flooring, hickory is a great choice because of its natural antique look which can be further enhanced by hand scraping and other methods of texturizing the wood.
- Ease of maintenance
Since hickory hardwood has such a unique texture and is so durable, maintenance is easy. The usual routine of hardwood flooring maintenance is enough to keep the floor looking clean. Its texture hides dirt, which is why you can shirk your daily cleaning routine by a day or two.
The price of hardwood is determined by:
- The availability and rarity of the species
- The import cost if you are investing in an exotic species
- Installation charges
Hickory is a domestic species available in abundance, making it more affordable than other species that are equally hard but more expensive Keep in mind, however, that, because of its hardness, hickory is difficult to cut and install, increasing your cost.
- Ease of staining
Many homeowners like to stain their hardwood, and there are numerous styles of stains available. Hickory is one of the best hardwoods if you want to stain it a different colour. Grey hardwood floors are currently trending, and hickory is an excellent base for this stain. However, it is best to seek professional help since it must be accurately blended. Other shades of stain work equally well with hickory.
The following are some disadvantages to hickory flooring that you may want to keep in mind:
In its natural state, hickory flooring displays a high contrast in wood tones as the heartwood and the sapwood are very different. This variation turns off some homeowners.
- Custom stain
Custom staining can be tricky on this wood because it has such highly-contrasted colours and the stain will react differently on different parts. But this challenge can be solved by hiring an expert.
Hickory is prone to warping, particularly if the installation is rushed and the wood does not get enough time to acclimatize.
Buying the Right Hickory Floorboards
There are few important criteria to consider before investing in hickory floorboards for your home.
- Amount of heartwood
The heartwood of hickory trees is deep brown, and the floorboards display a combination of tan, off-white, and brown depending on how the log has been cut. If you invest in hickory floorboards made primarily from heartwood, there will be a better colour consistency to your flooring. Heartwood is also more durable than sapwood, ensuring that scratches and dents are kept to a minimum.
- Length of floorboards
The smaller your floorboards, the higher the number of seams through which water can seep in and do damage. Moreover, longer floorboards give a more consistent appearance which is aesthetically appealing. This is a particularly important factor to consider when you are shopping for hickory in order to create a rustic look.
- Double curing
Double curing is the process whereby wood is air-dried for three to six months and then kiln-dried before manufacturing the planks to ensure they are moisture-free. This process conditions the wood and enhances its durability and performance. Double-cured hickory wood is more stable than other manufacturing processes, even after milling, making installation smoother. It can also be used on radiant heating and near high moisture zones like the kitchen and bathroom. Ask the flooring experts to know about the parts of your home where hickory hardwood flooring can be installed.
When shopping for hardwood flooring, hickory is a durable and cost-effective option. Keep in mind the above-mentioned advantages, drawbacks, and advice, and be sure to consult in-store experts to get the best grade of hickory available at the flooring store.