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Discover the Beauty of Domestic Hardwood

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers®

It’s exciting to explore all the hardwood flooring options the world has to offer, but make sure not to miss the beautiful species in your own backyard! Trees native to and grown in the United States are a great choice because they are harvested sustainably under our practices and create jobs for American craftsmen. And with the wide variety that we have, you’re sure to find one that delivers the aesthetics and durability you desire. Here are some options to keep in mind when searching for domestic hardwood flooring!

Bellawood Williamsburg Oak Rustic

An instant classic made from the most popular species for hardwood floors, Bellawood Williamsburg Oak Rustic is perfect for projects old and new. Prefinished to a richer hue than raw red oak, it is well suited to a warmly designed space.

The Traditional Choice

Red oak is the most popular hardwood flooring in the United States, and it has been for some time because it is common in the environment and has a universally attractive, light color. Many people love the strong grain patterns of this species because they effectively hide any little dents and scratches accumulated through everyday life, and they produce a different floor in each home due to their variation. It’s no wonder this species became the go-to option for residential use, and its ubiquitousness comes with a welcome perk: red oak is typically one of the most affordable floors around.

If you think this sounds a little plain, you’ll be happy to know that red oak has also earned distinction as a highly stainable species. It accepts color better than almost any other wood because it is comparatively porous, so keep it in the running if you have your eyes on something darker but want to avoid the higher price tag. Many manufacturers actually offer red oak that you wouldn’t recognize—in deeper shades of red, brown, gray, and even high-contrast patterns—and it comes prefinished for easy installation and long-lasting resilience to wear. There’s a good chance this versatile species can produce flooring you’ll love, no matter your tastes.

Bellawood Matte Hickory Natural

High contrast and with a low-gloss finish, a Bellawood Matte Hickory Natural floor is dynamic and sure to be noticed. You’ll love its durability and how easily it supports a bright design and gives the space unique personality.

The Range of American Species

When your design calls for lighter or deep brown flooring, it is to your benefit to look beyond red oak. You can lighten with acid washing, but it produces a very distinctive and aged look best suited to specific modern designs. When stained darker, it still maintains its red undertones, so it can be tricky to get a true neutral from it. Luckily, there are plenty of other hardwood species that fill in the blanks with beautiful results! These are the most common ones, roughly in order from lightest to darkest:

Maple – Used for basketball courts and bowling alleys, this cream to tan colored hardwood is perfect for high-traffic households and has a bright glow under sunlight.
Birch – Has a light creamy color often described as golden, with some variation between boards and subtle graining.
Ash – Light to medium brown in color, it is the choice for wooden baseball bats and is known for its striking grain patterns when used for flooring.
Beech – Has straight graining and is naturally available in tones from pale tan to medium brown with slight reddish undertones.
White oak – Though similar to its cousin red oak, it is light to medium brown in color and has grayish undertones. It is also durable and accepts stain very well.
Hickory – High-contrast with colors ranging from light tan to brown on each board, this species promises a one-of-a-kind look and is the hardest domestic hardwood you can get.
Cherry – Relatively soft but with graceful graining and colors ranging from orange to red, it has been a luxury choice for centuries. It darkens with age and UV exposure to reveal richer tones that most designers covet.
Walnut – With the deepest color available, this chocolatey brown hardwood is naturally warm and easily pairs with most colors because it lacks tinges of red that other species can have.

It’s important to remember that, as a natural material, there can be a lot of variation between hardwood floors of the same species because of where trees were grown and how the boards were cut. Be sure to pay attention to grades, which broadly describe the quality of each product. Select grade is the most expensive and produces the most uniform floor, while natural grade has more variation in color and grain pattern, and rustic grade typically also includes knotting. The difference can be huge—a natural maple floor might even look like hickory—but the best floor to invest in is often left to preference. A lot of people want to see the rougher characteristics of wood in their homes and love the effect on their interiors.

Bellawood Distressed Artisan Sorrel Ash

Bellawood Distressed Artisan Sorrel Ash flooring is handscraped and stained in North Carolina to provide an attractively aged texture that conceals damage and a darker, sophisticated color typical of exotic species. If you want an elegant interior design, you can’t go wrong with something like this!

Carefully Crafted Flooring

Did you know you can choose from a wider array of styles than these raw woods without having to finish your boards on-site and hoping that they turn out how you pictured? Manufacturers can recolor hardwoods that are notoriously difficult to stain, so the look you want comes with a higher hardness rating than the real thing and you can live on your floors without worrying as much about damaging them. If you’re primarily concerned with the overall appearance of your flooring, you’ll probably be surprised by the variety of species that can offer it with some human engineering.

Distressed or handscraped floors are also popular, and they address the growing appreciation for old-fashioned craftsmanship. Not only does this process mimic the traditional look of boards processed by hand, but it conceals signs of accumulated damage to keep the floor looking great. Whether stained, distressed, or completely natural, though, prefinishing is another investment that repays in a more durable product for your home.

If you’re looking for a gorgeous American grown and finished hardwood floor, see Lumber Liquidators and their large selection that includes all the species mentioned here. Whether you choose solid or engineered, unfinished or prefinished, you’re sure to find flooring that will be a beautiful base for your interior design. Locate your local store to see the possibilities in person!

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