Hickory Flooring Pictures. First maybe I can give you the easy answer. Hickory hardwood floors are pretty visually exciting. Many of the grades, particularly the lower ones have a huge variety of colour from almost white to the rich dark brown tones of the heart wood giving very dramatic looking hardwood flooring. Hickory, as a commercial species, is often a group of trees within one biological family that includes both the ‘true hickories’ and the ‘pecan hickories.’ Each member within this family has a different spectrum of colours. It is not just a question of whether the wood is sap wood or heart wood, but also a question of exactly what wood species you are buying. Together they can produce a quite vibrant and variable looking floor.
Interesting enough some wholesalers are coining the phrase ‘calico’ hickory to refer to this dramatic variation of colour. They guarantee that every piece of wood will have both the light and dark shades of wood on every face, not that that really matters if we are talking about flooring as only one face shows, but may be more relevant if we are making hickory kitchen cabinets.
Earlier we were suggesting that much of this colour variation is found in the lower grade, but in addition to the colour the lower grades will also have significant natural defects like pock marks and knots. This figure creates quite a rustic appearance that emulates country living and lake side property but this is not appropriate to every set of interior decorating plans. Thus it is important to see a large enough sample of the floor you are considering to get a clear picture of what you are buying in your hardwood flooring. Hickory as discussed can be quite variable.
Now aside from colour, hickory can be a great wood for durability. It is the second hardest domestic wood species commonly made into hardwood flooring in North America. Only mesquite wood flooring is harder according to the standard Janka ranking system. This feature comes at a price though.
Hickory lumber is quite tough and fibrous; in fact it doesn’t really like to cut cleanly especially with a semi-dull chisel. Sanding is a challenge, thus we highly recommend that you only purchase pre-finished hardwood flooring. Hickory tends to raise a bur and requires additional attention to preparation if you are to obtain a quality finish. This is easier to do in a multi-million dollar factory than you and I struggling at home. That is besides the fact that large manufactures have the ability to use aluminum oxide additives and UV curing to create a more durable finish.
Check out our site at woodsthebest.com for hickory’s janka rank for hardness relative to other wood species and details on shrinkage issues related to hickory hardwood floors that may affect the appropriateness of this species for various home environments; below grade, on grade or above grade.
Hickory is harder than oak, which is slightly harder than ash, and significantly harder than walnut. Pine is generally thought of as being too soft for flooring, especially in high-traffic areas, yet red pine is actually harder than either oak or ash, and yellow heart pine does not lag far behind.
Of the more commonly known types of wood used for hardwood flooring, hickory is the strongest (it makes good baseball bats), and oak remains the most popular. If you want a really hard floor you will have to pay a price, as the very hardest woods are exotic woods, with Brazilian Walnut Ipe generally considered to be the hardest of all.
How is Hardness Defined? Ask Mr. Janka.
When you see hardwood flooring advertised, you will sometimes see contained within the description of wood a number, a number that usually lies somewhere between 1,000 and 1,800. That number is called the Janka number. The Janka number is a measure of the hardness of the wood. The higher the number, the harder the wood, which makes comparison between different types of wood much easier
The Janka number represents the number of pounds of force it take to drive a steel ball into a piece of wood. To be more specific, it represents the pounds of force it takes to drive a .444 inch-diameter steel ball into a piece of wood to a depth of .222 inches, or half the diameter of the ball.
Wood having a Janka hardness number of less than 1,000 is generally considered to be too soft for conventional flooring. Western Red cedar, which is rated at 900 is probably borderline. You will often see cedar or hemlock used as trim, but rarely sold for flooring. American walnut (1,010) is on the cusp.
The Janka number does not only tell you how easy or how difficult it will be to make an indentation in your flooring. It is also an indicator as to how easy or difficult it could be to saw or drive a nail through the wood. No matter how hard a piece of wood is, you can still dent it or mar it if you hit it hard enough, but an oak floor will retain a smooth surface for many years if you don’t take a hammer to it.
Not to Forget Balsa
The hardest wood of all, Brazilian Walnut Ipe has a Janka number of 3684. Its closest competitor is Ebony (3220). One of the harder exotic woods that has recently become quite popular is Tigerwood (1850). Hickory and pecan come in at 1820. Bamboo (1380) is ever-so-slightly harder than white oak (1360). One brand of bamboo flooring on the market, under the Cali brand, measures over 5,000. This particular bamboo is specially treated however, and it falls into the category of engineered wood. It is also quite expensive.
To get a complete picture of what the Janka scale is telling you, consider the low end the scale. Balsa wood measures 100, and some varieties of balsa don’t even measure that high. Stick to oak or bamboo for your flooring.
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