These days, anyone and everyone seems to be selling some kind of hardwood flooring. We find that it's very frustrating to gain any real information as to the pros and cons - since everyone seems to be saying something different.

This is the first of a series of educational blog posts that we will be doing about hardwood. The goal of this one, Hardwood 101 is to address the difference between hardness and durability.

This is the area where there is the most amount of confusion – typically perpetuated by salespeople!

This chart contains some of the more popular species of wood, showing their respective hardnesses listed from hardest to softest.


You will notice that out fo the species shown, Brazilian Walnut is the hardest while Douglas Fir is the softest.

So if you were to use hardness as your guide to durability, you will come to the conclusion Brazilian Walnut is harder, therefore more durable than Douglas Fir.

Not correct! The hardness of wood only has to do with how easily denting will occur, not durability. All hardwood flooring has some kind of finish - usually a polyurethane (basically a type of plastic) on the surface - so we are not walking on the wood itself - we are walking on the finish that is on top of the wood.

And while Brazilian Walnut is harder than Douglas Fir, it all depends on the quality of finish that is on the wood. And that will determine how long the floor lasts before it needs to be refinished!

In terms of hardness, he real question that one should ask - is HOW MUCH the floor will dent, not IF the floor will dent. See, the problem that quite a few people have is because of all the new finishes and technology and all this talk about HARD wood, the assumption is that the floor will be indestructible.

Unfortunately, these misconceptions are being encouraged by some companies, but in the end, the flooring that we use is wood - and wood dents.

Therefore, no matter whether it's Brazilian or American Walnut - they will all dent and they will all scratch! Drop a pan or even a knife on the floor, all wood will dent - no matter how hard it is. To be able to measure te difference, one needs a microscope. So if all wood will dent and mark, does the hardness of the wood really matter? In our opinion, not really. It's wood. Every dent, every scratch becomes part of the floor. They each have their stories. We call it character...

So durability is what we are walking on - the finish, and hardness is how much a floor will dent when (not if) we drop things on it.

Any questions, please don't hesitate to ask us - we'd be happy to help!