Durability isn’t easily defined. It can be defined as resistance to moisture, dents, or scratches or it can mean longevity. Wood floor durability greatly depends on type, species, finish, and manufacturing process.
Most wood flooring is durable and may be able to stand up to pets, children, and a particular amount of abuse, but based on application, there are differences between products.
The most important thing about your hardwood floors is that it matches your tastes and better your home, you have to live with it after all, what kind of hardwood floors are most durable matters.
Think of getting a piece of furniture and having it crack or tear all the time; you end up spending money on repairs or buying another piece of furniture soon after purchasing the first.
By investing in the most durable hardwood floor you can afford, you’ll save yourself money in the long-term. You want to consider your lifestyle when deciding what type of hardwood floors are most durable. For example, trying to find the foremost durable hardwood floors for pets is going to be different than if you do not have any.
Same goes for if you have kids or an active house with lots of moving about. On the other hand, if you know that you don’t need the most durable hardwood floor because of your lifestyle but want to ensure you don’t need to refinish your floor very often, you can use a good finish to help improve durability.
Different Types of Hardwood Floor
Table of Contents
- 1 Different Types of Hardwood Floor
- 2 The Janka Wood Hardness Scale
- 3 What is the Most Durable Hardwood Floor
- 4 Hardwood Floor Finishing
- 5 Conclusion
Laminated wood flooring is the cheapest option, and the least durable. It gives something close to a hardwood floor look, but the wear layer is often a photographic image and you can’t sand it.
It’s easier to clean because of its uniform, flat surface and it’s more economical, but it won’t give you the resale value of solid or engineered wood.
Traditional Solid Wood
The low maintenance and longevity of solid wood place it at the top of the list for durability. Each piece of solid hardwood flooring is just a single piece of wood, typically cut with a tongue-and-groove profile.
This is the most expensive choice among wood floor options, it also provides the highest resale value for a home.
With choices ranging from domestic oak, maple, pine, cedar and fir to exotics like teak and marabou, the choices for pattern and color surpass those of other flooring options.
Solid wood flooring can be sanded and repaired over and over again, making it one of the most durable hardwood floor.
That reparable quality makes solid wood one of the best choices if you have pets or kids with toys that could damage the flooring.
Engineered wood is more durable than other solid wood when considering moisture.
It resists moisture due to the way it’s made, with two or more layers of wood whose grain patterns run at right angles to every other, glued together under hydraulic pressure and then topped off with veneer.
Also referred to as a wear layer, the veneer can vary in thickness. Thinner with wear layers, about 1/8 inch, have limited durability, while thicker wear layers, 1/4 inch or more, have better longevity.
The thicker the layer, the more times you can sand and refinish the floor. Check with the manufacturer to work out the thickness of the wear and tear layer.
Most of these floors are engineered using the tongue and groove method.
You can install engineered wood flooring below-grade, like in places like the basement, where solid wood isn’t a decent choice due to moisture concerns.
The Janka Wood Hardness Scale
This Janka wood hardness scale ranks wood for density and is a reliable indicator of floor durability in regard to hardness and denting. The higher the rating, the more resistant the ground is to dents, scratches and wear.
How to get an image of how hard the flooring you are looking at is, you will want to check up the species on the wood hardness scale.
Specifically, the Janka wood hardness scale, a test that measures the amount of force is required to bury a .444-in diameter steel ball halfway into the sample plank.
Balsa wood features a rating of twenty-two, meaning only 22 pounds-feet of force are necessary to achieve that. You could do it with your hands. Cherry, a really attractive wood for furniture, features a Janka rating of 995.
The higher the Janka number, the better. This tells how hardy the flooring is, though you’ll still need a decent finish applied to withstand the brunt of impacts and also to seal it from moisture.
What is the Most Durable Hardwood Floor
So, below are some examples of the most durable hardwood floor wood species. These will stand up to wear if you take care of the finish. Some happen to be very beautiful woods to look at, which is also important.
- Red oak is rated to be about 1300 and is generally considered about the minimum you want in hardwood flooring. Any softer and it won’t stand up to much, so this is about a good entry point.
You can get softer, of course; some people like the “distressed” aesthetic, and a couple of dings, dents and scratches won’t compromise the structural integrity of your floor.
Woods with an identical rating include American beech, Ash, Tasmanian, and oak. White Oak happens to be a really popular wood for flooring.
- Bamboo, based on how it’s made, can be in the 900 to 1300 range for typical bamboo boards but up to 3000 for a strand-woven composite.
For standard construction bamboo, spend a bit more to buy quality boards with a durable finish; those will last.
- Zebrawood, an African hardwood with quite a distinctive grain – people either love it or hate it, and it rarely gets stained too much because the owner wants to look at it – is rated about 1575: Hardy and wonderful to look at.
- Hard maple and sugar maple woods both have Janka ratings of 1450. A little harder than oak, both take a finish very well and are fine choices for the standard home.
- Domestic walnut has a Janka hardness around 1000. While on the softer side, a good finish and some care will give you decades. Cherry features a similar hardness rating, but – like a walnut – can last and is extremely attractive with a decent finish.
- Hickory is quite hard, at 1820, and has a very distinct grain. As a result, it’s real hardy, durable flooring, but some don’t take care of it.
- Pine is a popular choice due to expense, but at Janka rating of 620 to 900 requires a good finish to be durable.
- Brazilian walnut, however, has a Janka rating of 3680. It is a really popular flooring wood, and for great reason. It takes high-traffic all right, features a gorgeous figure and also doesn’t usually get stained the maximum amount as sealed, so you’ll enjoy the gorgeous appearance.
Hardwood Floor Finishing
Wood floor finishing makes all the difference when it comes to avoiding scratches and dents and making every hardwood floor more durable.
Two types of floor finishes are typical of hardwood. Traditional oil-based polyurethane is flexible, capable of standing up to normal wood movement, and providing a warm glow to wood floors.
This is tougher and less elastic, often referred to as a water-based finish. Using urethane makes the resin stronger and more resistant to damages, but water-based urethane does not have the solvent resistance and heat sensitivity of oil-based products.
This finish dries clear and is generally favored for its ease of use and cost-friendliness. It’s not the least durable finish, but it also isn’t winning any awards for longevity.
These finishes give a high-gloss shine and are among the most common in the industry.
Their combination of great looks and high durability make them a great choice for homes with children or pets.
The main concern is that these finishes have harmful fumes and are flammable.
It’s worth getting a hotel room and letting the house air out for a day after applying, but since the finish is so durable you’ll be able to go years between coats.
If you just want it over and done with, lacquer is your best bet. It sprays on and dries fast, but be warned that it’s durability is suspect and you’ll have to make sure to ventilate thanks to harmful fumes.
Shellac has long been a favorite of the woodworking industry due to its natural shine and low cost. The main downside with shellac is a tendency to wear off quickly, requiring more frequent applications than other finishes.
Factor in design fit, longevity, cost, and ease of installation when making a hardwood flooring decision, as they are what makes up the most durable floor individually.
But it has been said that the most durable floors are hardwoods with a urethane finish and the best floor wood is red oak. Do you have or know any hardwood floor nightmare or success stories?