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Oak, Maple and Hickory Pros and Cons

I|f you are planning to change the flooring of your new residential or commercial structure, picking the right flooring material might be challenging. It’s not challenging because of the lack of choices, but more of because you have so many choices.

If you want to achieve that timeless and simple look, you can go for ceramic tiles. There’s the vinyl plank flooring from Mannington. DreamHome laminate looks elegant and high-end, too. Mohawk vinyl plank is resistant to stains, so it could be one of your options, too. 

If you want to use the finest hardwoods, but you have a tight budget, you can go laminated vinyl. You can choose the best and rarest hardwood you can think of. The catch here is you will only pay for a lower price because these are just 3D prints of the original hardwood. If you want to go for the rustic and modern look, you can always try the vinyl planks from reputable flooring manufacturers. 

The upside of having this plethora of choices is you can always find the flooring material that fits your budget and preferences. Among these types of wood flooring materials, three of the most popular choices are oak, maple, and hickory hardwoods.

Each of them comes in engineered or solid hardwood planks. Also, each of them comes in different styles. Just like other wood varieties, they need occasional maintenance to keep them in their best conditions. 

Each of these hardwoods is also equipped with their own unique appeal with durability and dependability as two of their commonalities. These features easily made these hardwoods popular. In terms of looks, homeowners prefer red oak. They love its medium to heavy grains and rosy undertones.

White oaks, on the other hand, have a linear grain that makes it easier to stain them evenly and smoothly. Maple has an almost creamy, smooth look that makes it a great choice for houses with a classic, timeless look. As for hickory, it is commonly used as wider floor planks for its complex, bold graining. 

The appropriateness and fitness of such hardwood to your home depends on a couple of factors. We will discuss these factors as you move forward in the article. 

What is Oak Flooring

Oak is a popular and attractive timber that has its roots in Britain. It is a strong, tall, and impressive tree that can grow as high as 60 to 100 feet. Though various environmental conditions can affect the growth of this tree, under normal conditions, 100 feet is its best growth level. 

There are numerous species of oak, with more than 25 of them being native to Europe, including the evergreen and deciduous varieties. Oaks also produce acorns that take somewhat six to 17 months to mature. The tree itself can grow and live for more than one hundred years. 

Being highly attractive, oakwood is one of the most sought after the flooring and building materials. You can even install Ipe decking on your porch and use oak instead. 

What Are Maple and Hickory Floorings

Compared to other hardwoods, maple hardwood is lighter and creamier in complexion. There are some grades, however, that contain mineral streaks that range from light brown to medium brown and almost black. Their grains are also fairly light and fine. The grain lines can also vary from curly, wavy, to straight. 

When it comes to graining, hickory hardwood has the most distinct and varied graining. This feature attracts some and turns-off others. The hues in every flooring piece are distinct, ranging from rich to light golden brown. Its boards are also installed in a side by side manner, showing its differences. If you’re looking for wider planks, hickory flooring is better for the complexity of its graining. 

Benefits of Oak Flooring

Benefits of Oak Flooring

As you already know, out of the different hardwood flooring materials, oak seems to be everyone’s top of mind. You can’t blame these people as their choices are backed with evidence and reason. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy with oak flooring:

Hard-Wearing

Oak is one of the extremely hard wearing hardwoods. For centuries, this material has been used in the building trade. Over the years of usage, oak was able to establish its reliability and credibility. In fact, you can buy a 200-year old reclaimed oak and expect it to still look beautiful.  

Ages Like Red Wine

The good thing about oak is the older they get, the better the wood becomes. A 200-year old reclaimed oak is proof of this claim. In fact, even if the oak is only a couple of years older, its color will become richer and your floor will also keep on getting better. 

Attractive Grain

The wood’s attractive grain makes it best for flooring. The only thing this hardwood can’t offer is decorative styles and patterns. This can be offered by linoleum and carpet, instead. To define the look of a bedroom, the homeowner can only rely on the grain of the wood. Character or rustic grade oak have grains and knots patterns, while the prime grade ones have a very clean cut. 

Variety of Choices

Oak is a very popular choice. The abundance of this hardwood contributed to its unparalleled popularity. If you want a wood that has different dimensions, grade, and style, oak is for you. With all these designs, you can most certainly find what you’re looking for. 

Responds Well to Coloring and Staining

Compared to other wood, oak responds best to coloring and staining, effortlessly adding more choices to its already vast options. You can choose from these appearances and shades — old antique, contemporary clean, white, natural, and very dark. 

Insect and Fungus Resistant

Oak is resistant to insect and fungal attacks. This means that you will not spend more on the damage and repair of your floors. 

Sophisticated Look

In the past, oak has been associated with the sign of opulence for its attractiveness and prestigious flair. So, if you want to give your home a prestigious, vintage, and sophisticated look, this is for you. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a premium-quality wood with a classic, timeless look and feel, oak will exceed your expectations. If there’s a wood that can be considered as the filet mignon among flooring materials, oak will claim that title hands down. 

Benefits of Maple and Hickory Floorings

Benefits of Maple and Hickory Floorings

Since we’ve already discussed the benefits of oak flooring, let’s go over the benefits of maple and hickory floorings: 

Undeniable Beauty

Maple and hickory floorings come in a wide range of warm colors like chromatic grays, browns, reds, and neutral beiges. These colors can easily complement your home decor and home color schemes. If you prefer darker floors, you can stain or dye these woods. As for maple, it has lesser grain compared to other varieties of wood and these grains account for its clean, smooth appearance. 

Superior Hardness

Maple is considered as one of the hardest wood varieties. In fact, in the Janka hardness scale, this wood got a rating of 1,450 lbf. White oak, on the other hand, only got a 1,290 lbf rating. This means that maple is more durable compared to oak. It also doesn’t dent faster. This is the reason why maple is used in public areas like gymnasium floors and bowling alleys. Despite the heavy foot traffic, the floor remains in great condition. 

Easy to Clean

With maple and hickory flooring, you only need to regularly sweep the floor and mop it using a mild soap solution weekly. To keep it shining, just buff it once every two years. 

Dust-Resistant

Maple and hickory are both naturally resistant to dust. This means that they naturally control allergens and other airborne contaminants that can pose serious health risks to you. 

Subtle Graining

The subtle grain of maple and hickory only contain lesser imperfections when compared to other types of hardwood. This means it has a more homogeneous, cleaner look. 

Affordable

Since maple and hickory are widely available, they are also affordable. You can choose from the different grades and types available, too. This means that there is a type that will suit your budget and needs.

Eco-Friendly

Since maple and hickory grow in abundance over a short period, they are a more environment-friendly option compared to cherry, walnut, or oak that grow slower. 

Pros and Cons of Oak vs Maple and Hickory Flooring

Since we’re done discussing the benefits of all these wood flooring materials, let’s look at their respective pros and cons

Pros

  • Appearance: Each of these three hardwoods has different styles and beauty, appealing to different market segments. 
  • Durability: These hardwoods are more durable compared to linoleum, vinyl, or carpet. If you compare them against each other, the Janka Hardness Test reveals that hickory is the toughest wood with a score of 1,820 lfb. Next to hickory is maple with a score of 1,450 lbf. The last is white and red oak with scores of 1,360 and 1,290 lbf, respectively.
  • Stability: Since these three kinds of wood belong to the hardwood categories, they are also more stable compared to other hardwoods. However, if you compare them against each other, you’ll see that white oak is the most stable. It can resist scratches and dings best. Then again, this also means that oak also contracts and expands more compared to hickory and maple. If you want to use hickory in humid and fluctuating temperatures, make sure to use engineered hickory flooring instead. The subflooring of the engineered hardwood decreases its contraction and expansion significantly. 
  • Price: The prices for all these three are reasonable, considering their quality and usefulness. Hickory flooring is priced at $3.15 to $7 for every square foot. Maple, on the other hand, is priced at $2.70 to $6.15 per square foot, and oak is at $2.55 to $5.80 for every square foot. 
  • Installation cost: The cost to install any of these hardwood floorings remains the same within $3 to $4 for every square foot. 

Cons

  • Distinct and varied graining: Though this feature attracts some, it also turns off others. The flooring materials’ hues can range from light to golden brown. 
  • Dings and scratches: Homeowners often complain that their maple flooring dings and scratches easily. There are softer maple flooring materials and these are the maple types that you should avoid.
  • Too popular: There’s a reason why oak flooring is a popular option. Then again, because it’s so popular, almost everyone is using it. So, if you’re looking for something unique, this is not for you. You can consider something else instead. 
  • Changing colors as it ag: Maple, despite its stability and beauty, will change into slight yellow as it gets older. This is especially true if you use clear-coat finishes instead of staining it. 

Types of Oak Flooring

Types of Oak Flooring

The beauty of solid oak lies in its style and strength. If you are looking for a hardwood to match the elegance and style of oak, within the same wood line, you can choose a variety of other products that offer various shades, styles, plank width, and finishes. 

The products may vary in color, with hues ranging from pale white to very dark flooring. Its varieties also include floors with natural markings and floors with a wide range of knots, lines, and bands. Most solid oak floors are available in various edge detailing and finishes. 

Red Oak

This type of oak wood has a pinkish undertone, with its colors varying from light cream to deep amber. Red oak has less varied colors compared to white oak. They also have denser structures that explain why they are stained evenly. Compared to white oaks, red oaks have shorter grains. Their broad grain formation also shows its amazing wavy pattern. Based on the Janka rating, white and red oak with scores of 1,360 and 1,290 lbf, respectively. 

White Oak

If red oak has a pinkish undertone, white oak, on the other hand, has a brownish-yellow undertone. Its planks are less varied but are more even in colors. When it comes to staining, white oak stains better and more evenly compared to red oaks. With its longer grains, white oaks are texture look straighter and more tightly packed.

If the red oak’s patterns are wavy, white oak’s patterns are less swirly, making white oak a better option for homeowners who want more unified and less busy floor patterns for their homes. 

Engineered Oak

Engineered oak is made up of various wood layers that are tightly stuck to one another due to high pressure. This construction method helps create wooden floors that boast improved durability and strength compared to other hardwood and solid oak flooring. On the aesthetic side, it also looks aesthetically pleasant, aside from its functionality. 

A vast majority of the solid floors available in the market tend to expand and shrink. This is due to certain environmental conditions such as subfloor moisture, fluctuating room temperature, changes in humidity. Engineered oak flooring is also more resistant to water and other environmental conditions, so it can prevent these scenarios from happening. 

Laminate Oak

If you are looking for flooring materials that will blend the natural with the synthetic, then laminate flooring is for you.  The synthetic fibers are meshed with natural wood to make a solid and firm flooring surface that will look like original hardwood or stone. 

When it comes to laminate flooring, oak is probably one of the most sought after designs since it reflects the current hardwood and oak fashion. If you’re looking for an ideal design, you can choose between beveled and smooth edges, narrow or wide planks, dark or medium shades, or light hues. 

Vinyl Flooring With Oak Effect

Oak vinyl comes in black, white, dark, medium, and light hues that mirror real oak flooring effects. Aside from these, added benefits include being easy to clean, waterproof, and cheap. 

Recent technological developments are now making these vinyl laminates more durable while specifically enhancing their practical features and make their appearance more striking. When you choose vinyl with an oak effect, there is a huge selection of styles that will reflect the grade and shades of real oakwood.

Since vinyl is practical to use, it has become a common choice for bathrooms, kitchens, and areas of the house that deal with day-to-day spillages. Unlike other flooring types, oaks are not easily damaged, no matter how harsh the environmental conditions are. When it comes to cost-efficiency, this flooring option is also economical in the sense that they are priced reasonably. 

Oak vs Maple and Hickory Flooring

Oak vs Maple and Hickory Flooring

Width

Oak boards that are up to 12mm wide are the only ones that can be glued securely to concrete subfloors. If you insist on gluing the wider ones, brace yourself for planks that will easily lift itself away from your subfloor. 

If you use hickory as your flooring material, you need to cut the wood into 5″, 4″, and 3 and ¼” floorboards. The ratio behind this is that floorboards’ dense coloration can make the thinner boards look extremely busy. Hickory is also popular in its wider widths form because the wideness allows the display of the wood grain’s beautiful character. 

Stain Application

You can apply stains on these three hardwoods. Refer to the staining guide for the appropriate staining style for oak, maple, and hickory. 

Style

Oakwood flooring has an attractive grain that is great for flooring. The wood’s attractive grain makes it best for flooring. The only thing this hardwood can’t offer is decorative styles and patterns. This can be offered by linoleum and carpet, instead.

To define the look of a bedroom, the homeowner can only rely on the grain of the wood. Character or rustic grade oak have grains and knots patterns, while the prime grade ones have a very clean cut.

Maple and hickory wood, on the other hand, have subtle graining. The subtle grain of these woods only contains lesser imperfections when compared to other types of hardwood. This means it has a more homogeneous, cleaner look. 

Resale Value

In terms of resale value, oak flooring can improve the look and value of your property, making it a lucrative investment just in case you plan to resell later. Though walnut, pecan, and other nontraditional woods offer a more dramatic appearance, the beauty of oakwood is in its versatility.

It can easily complement any decor or interior design your house has.  The new homeowners would be delighted to see this kind of flooring and they won’t have to spend so much just in case they’ll renovate the property. 

If your home has a hickory or maple flooring, it would be easier to resell your property at a higher price than a house with a carpet-laid bare flooring. 

Durability and Hardness

Oak floors are strong and durable enough to safeguard your floor from electricity, sound, and heat. It also gives a pleasant color to a considerable surface. The layers of an oakwood floor are also stuck in opposite directions and they are in this position with adhesives that are moisture resistant. Meaning, the floor has an added massive amount of stability. 

Hickory flooring is considered as one of the toughest woods. This means it’s suitable for places with high foot traffic. The wood’s rough grain is not only closed but also durable and dense, making it last for a long time. 

Stability

Since these three kinds of wood belong to the hardwood categories, they are also more stable compared to other hardwoods. However, if you compare them against each other, you’ll see that white oak is the most stable. It can resist scratches and dings best.

Then again, this also means that oak also contracts and expands more compared to hickory and maple. If you want to use hickory in humid and fluctuating temperatures, make sure to use engineered hickory flooring instead. The subflooring of the engineered hardwood decreases its contraction and expansion significantly.

Installation

Oak, hickory, and maple are hardwood floorings that are quite difficult to install on your own. So, if you’re thinking of a DIY installation project without the help of an expert, you might want to reconsider your decision. What makes these hardwoods difficult to install is their extreme density. You will need to sand or cut through this flooring and this can be a major pain. It’s not something that a beginner can handle. 

Oak vs Maple and Hickory Flooring - Installation

Price

The prices for all these three are reasonable, considering their quality and usefulness. Hickory flooring is priced at $3.15 to $7 for every square foot. Maple, on the other hand, is priced at $2.70 to $6.15 per square foot, and oak is at $2.55 to $5.80 for every square foot. 

Damages

Any kind of wood, despite their extreme hardness, will still be prone to scratching and oak is not an exception. High-heeled shoes, furniture, and dog claws are the top three common causes of oak floor scratches. This flooring material can also be easily damaged when placed in a room full of heavy furniture as they can get easily dented or scratched. To prevent floor damage, use pads underneath your furniture or feet. 

Hickory flooring, on the other hand, is also incredibly strong. However, you need to be careful about maintaining it. This flooring material can also be easily damaged when placed in a room full of heavy furniture as they can get easily dented or scratched like oak. So, to prevent floor damage, use pads underneath your furniture or feet just like you do with your oak flooring.  

How to Install Oak Flooring

As mentioned above, installing your oak flooring by yourself may be challenging for beginners. However, if you’re confident that you can do it correctly, you can follow this guide we’ve listed for you. 

Step 1 – Prepare ahead

Before the actual installation, you need to prepare for later cases of wood expansion due to temperature changes. You need to remove all underlays and floor coverings to ensure that the base is strong enough and leveled for installation. Keep the gap at 10 to 12mm between each floor. Take note that the edges should not touch each other. 

Step 2 – Lay the wood on the concrete

Once the wood expansion gap is ready, move on to install the wood onto the concrete. You’ll need a flexible wood and concrete-specific adhesives like Layboud, Polymer, or Soudal to do this. Start the installation in the corner of the room first, then spread the boards on the subfloors with the adhesive and with the use of a 3mm trowel. 

Step 3 – Evenly lay the flooring

Lay your flooring evenly into the areas with concrete adhesives. Make sure that the tongue of the flooring is positioned against the wall. A 10mm spacer can help you observe the proper expansion gap consistently. 

Step 4 – Continue to complete all rows

Once the first row is properly installed, you’re now ready to lay the second row. Again, make sure that the flooring joints observe a 150mm gap. 

Step 5 – Continue until done

Continue the process until all the flooring materials are installed. 

How to Install Maple and Hickory Flooring

The process of installing oak hardwood flooring is pretty much the same as installing oak flooring, so you can check and follow the installation guide mentioned in the preceding paragraph. 

 

How to Clean Oak Flooring

To help you keep your oak flooring shiny and clean at all times, follow these simple cleaning and maintenance tips. 

Step 1 – Keep shoes from the house

Every time anyone enters your house, make sure that they also take their shoes off. As you already know, these wooden floors can get dirty quickly. The abrasive particles that come along with your shoes can also ruin your wood floors easily. So, to avoid these from happening, you have to encourage everyone to leave their shoes on the doorstep.

As the homeowner, you have to make sure that there’s a mat on your door that can be used to wipe tracked-in dirt. During snowy or rainy seasons, reserve a small space on your doorstep where your visitors can remove their boots. Water and deicers can cause damage to your floor. 

Step 2 – Vacuum or dust mop dirt and grime before you clean the surface

Rubbing any dirt on the floor is not a very good idea. So, with the use of your agent-treated dust mop, dust your floor to get rid of dirt and pet hair. You can also use a hardwood mop to 

Dust mop or vacuum grime and dirt before you thoroughly clean it. As you already know, rubbing dirt on the floor is a bad idea. With the use of a dusting agent-treated mop, dust your floor to pick up pet hair and dirt. You can also improve your cleaning performance with hardwood mop.

Step 3 – Use laminate mops for laminate oak flooring

These mops are mops dedicated for this purpose. The even greater thing about laminate mops is they remove all kinds of stains. 

Step 4 – Use a wooden floor cleaner

To deeply and thoroughly clean your floor, use a wood cleaner. This type of cleaner can get rid of dirt, oil, and grime build-up. Dip your mop into the cleaner and clean it to your heart’s content. Wipe the floor according to the floorboard’s direction. 

Step 5 – Dry the floor

Once you’re done mopping the floor, get a dry towel to dry the floor. You can also let it dry naturally by leaving it as is. 

Step 6 – Use crayons to get rid of scratches

If you see scratches, get a crayon and rub it against the scratch. With the use of a blower, heat the area to seal it. With the use of a towel, clean the blow-dried area. 

How to Clean Maple and Hickory Flooring

Cleaning your maple and hickory flooring is the same as cleaning your oak flooring. So, you can go over the cleaning guide mentioned above and follow the same in cleaning and maintaining your maple and hickory flooring. 

 

Engineered vs Solid Hardwood

Say you’ve finally made up your mind as to what type of wood flooring to use. Your decision-making task doesn’t end there, though. Now, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll go for engineered or solid hardwood. How are they different, by the way? 

Construction

First and foremost, they’re different in terms of construction. Engineered hardwoods are usually built from various layers of plywood and wood. Solid hardwood, on the other hand, is simply made from solid wood that is cut into planks.

Durability

In terms of durability, both solid and engineered hardwood are highly susceptible to dings and scratches. However, solid hardwood can be refinished and sanded down numerous times to get rid of the scratches and imperfections. Engineered hardwood is made up of wood veneer top layer. This layer’s thickness determines the maximum number of refinishes possible. 

Stability

Solid hardwood contract and expand more compared to engineered hardwood. This means that engineered hardwood is the better choice for rooms with high humidity. 

Resale Value

Solid hardwood and engineered hardwood are available in hickory, maple, and oak. But if you’re talking about resale value, the former is more favored by most homebuyers because of its classic and timeless look. In that case, it has a higher resale value compared to the latter. 

Costs

The cost for both solid and engineered hardwood is the same, regardless of the wood species used. 

Installation

Engineered hardwood is way easier to install than solid hardwood. This type of flooring material is installable as floating floors placed on top of your existing flooring. Since they’re easy to install, you can install it yourself. 

Solid hardwood, on the other hand, is harder to install as they require gluing, stapling, and nailing down the pieces onto the subfloor. With these processes involved, it’s better to leave the installation process to the hands of the professionals. 

Where to Buy Oak, Maple and Hickory Flooring

These wood flooring materials can be bought on any major home improvement store. These stores have store staff that is knowledgeable in the salient features of these flooring materials. As such, they can help you find the right flooring material for your home. 

Do’s and Don’ts With Oak Flooring

Do’s and Don’ts With Oak Flooring

Do’s

  • Use strong Brazilian walnut flooring
  • Leave your shoes outside before stepping on your oak flooring. 
  • Add pads or felt floor protectors to your flooring. 
  • Red waterproof Shaw Floorte vinyl planks for reference on how to take care of your oak flooring. 
  • Sweep your floor regularly. 
  • Use softer and gentler cleaning tools. 
  • Go for prefinished hardwood cleaners.
  • Check out Shaw Floorte since Shaw laminate is flooring that looks like real wood.
  • Protect your floor from extreme heat and sun exposure. 
  • Keep the room at a stable temperature to avoid contraction or expansion of the wood. 
  • Use a premium-grade vacuum when cleaning. 

Don’ts

  • Allow water to sit on your floor for an extended period. 
  • Use hot water to clean your floor. 
  • Use oil, wax, or other citrus-based cleaners for your floor. 
  • Scratch your floor with steel or plain sheet
  • Pour vinegar or ammonia on your floor to clean it
  • Wear shoes with hard spikes or heels on your oak floor

Do’s and Don’ts With Maple and Hickory Flooring

Do’s

Don’ts

  • Use mops or cloth drenched in water to clean your floor. 
  • Use feather dusters when cleaning your floor
  • Apply wax to the floor with a urethane finish
  • Use rugs with vinyl or rubber backing
  • Expose the wood to solvents, oil, and plastics

FAQ About Oak, Maple and Hickory Flooring

Lastly, let’s answer some of the commonly asked questions about oak, maple, and hickory flooring: 

Is hickory a good hardwood?

Yes, it’s a good hardwood. In fact, it’s a popular flooring choice among homeowners who prefer natural-looking hardwood that’s durable but isn’t overly expensive and too dark. It also has one of the highest Janka ratings among all domestic wood, even higher than oak and maple. 

What is a better wood maple or oak?

It depends on what feature you are measuring. There are different factors to consider when assessing which of the two wood is better. These factors are — width, stain application, style, resale value, durability and hardness, stability, installation, price, and damages. You can check how these woods faired in these factors in our thorough discussion above. 

Is hickory wood expensive?

Not only is hickory priced reasonably. The prices for all the three hardwoods are reasonable, considering their quality and usefulness. Hickory flooring is priced at $3.15 to $7 for every square foot. Maple, on the other hand, is priced at $2.70 to $6.15 per square foot, and oak is at $2.55 to $5.80 for every square foot. 

Is maple wood more expensive than oak?

As you can see above, maple is just slightly more expensive than oak. While maple wood is priced at $2.70 to $6.15 per square foot. Oak flooring, on the other hand, is priced at $2.55 to $5.80 for every square foot. 

Conclusion

There is one very important moral of the story here and it’s this – regardless of your preference, style, or budget, you will always find the right flooring material. With an array of choices, your dream home is just an oak, maple, or hickory flooring away!

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