What Are the Differences Between Oak and Walnut Flooring?

What Are the Differences Between Oak and Walnut Flooring?

Hardwood flooring is a classic and luxurious way to add a beautiful floor to your home. Used for centuries, hardwood is a durable choice that can last for many years with the proper care. And, if your hardwood floor becomes damaged, you can refinish it, instead of replacing it.

However, there are many choices available when it comes to the type of wood used in your hardwood floor. Oak is one of the most popular, but maple, walnut, and others are also offered. If you’re thinking about a hardwood floor and are not sure if walnut or oak flooring are the right choices for your home, then here is some information to help you decide.

Oak is the less expensive of the two floors and a little softer. It’s more readily available and can come stained in a number of colours. That means that if you’re not interested in paying the premium for the look and hardness of walnut, but want a dark floor, you can still get one. Oak does not, however, look like walnut, even when stained the same colour. It has a much tighter grain, which some prefer, but others consider less attractive.

Walnut is a naturally dark, open grained wood. Most species are harder than oak, but softer than many other. The look of natural walnut is one that’s hard to reproduce artificially, however. If you love walnut wood, skip the imitations – they won’t measure up. However, remember that the way your flooring is produced may affect the look of it and it might not look just like the sample.

Sawn boardNew Home Owners are the traditional option. However, lower priced sliced wood (which is soaked before sawing, then dried again) will have a different grain and be harder to refinish. Also, depending on where your wood was grown, it will look different. Even a few miles can make some difference in the appearance of an oak or walnut floor. That means it’s a good idea to get a look at the wood you’ll be using for your floor before installing it, if the exact look of the grain is important to you. Ask for samples of the specific flooring you will order, not just flooring of the same species.

Care for walnut and oak flooring is similar. Both can dent if a heavy object is dropped on them, although satin finishes may help reduce the appearance of these blemishes. Oak will dent more easily. Red oak is rated at about 1290 on the Janka hardness scale, while white oak rates at 1360. Black walnut is actually a little softer than these woods – rating at about 1000 on the scale. However, other walnut species are considerably harder – red walnut rates at 2450 and Brazilian walnut at an impressive 3680.

In the end, the choice of oak flooring versus walnut flooring comes down to personal preferences and budget. If you want the rich look of walnut, you won’t get it with an imitation. For those concerned about durability, red or Brazilian walnut are also great choices.

However, if a good hardwood floor is the priority, and you don’t want to spend as much, oak is a perfectly attractive and worthwhile choice.

Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who represents a number of UK businesses. For wood flooring, he recommends Completely Flooring, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of Oak and Walnut Flooring.

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