Oak Vs Hickory Flooring: Best Wood for Your Floors Revealed

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Oak and hickory flooring are two popular choices for homeowners looking to upgrade their floors. Each type of wood offers unique characteristics and benefits. But which one to choose: oak vs hickory flooring?

Oak flooring is a durable and versatile option, ideal for various home styles with its range of colors and grains. Hickory flooring, known for its unique grain and high resistance to wear, is harder than oak and suits high-traffic areas.

Difference between oak and hickory flooring
Difference between oak and hickory flooring

In this blog, I will go deeper into the pros and cons of both oak and hickory flooring to help you make a wise decision.

Oak Flooring

Oak Floors
Oak Floors

Oak is renowned for its classic look and ability to blend into any decor, offering a warm, inviting atmosphere.

It’s also relatively easy to maintain and can last for decades with proper care. On the cost front, oak tends to be more budget-friendly compared to hickory.

Get to know the differences between white oak vs red oak flooring.

Hickory Flooring

Hickory Floors
Hickory Floors

Hickory, on the other hand, stands out for its striking and varied grain patterns, adding a bold statement to any room.

It’s extremely tough, making it ideal for homes with pets or heavy foot traffic. However, this toughness comes with a higher price tag and can be a bit more challenging to install due to its hardness.

Difference Between Oak And Hickory Flooring: Quick Comparison

FeatureOak FlooringHickory Flooring
HardnessDurable, but less hard than hickoryExtremely hard, more scratch and dent-resistant
GrainStraight and consistent, classic lookVaried and prominent, rustic appearance
Color VariationMore uniform colorsHigh contrast and color variation
StainingAbsorbs stains evenly, versatile in color changesStaining can be uneven due to strong patterns
Water ResistanceModerate, not completely waterproofSimilar to oak, moderate resistance
CostMore affordable, budget-friendlyPricier, premium wood choice
Style SuitabilityVersatile, fits a range of decor stylesBest for rustic or country styles, unique in modern settings
MaintenanceRelatively easy to maintain and cleanRequires more effort due to textured grain

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Oak Vs Hickory Flooring: In-Depth Comparison

Hickory Is Harder Than Oak

While oak is durable and suitable for general use, hickory is one of the hardest domestic woods, making it more resistant to scratches and dents.

Hickory’s hardness of 1,820 to 2,000 lbf as per Janka hardness scale is ideal for high-traffic areas, but this also means it’s tougher to install compared to the more workable oak that ranks 1360 on Janka hardness (1).

Oak Has a More Uniform Grain Than Hickory

Oak’s grain is straight and consistent, offering a classic, elegant look that fits into various decor styles. In contrast, hickory’s grain is more diverse and pronounced, giving it a rustic and unique character that can be a bold statement in a room.

Oak Has More Consistent Coloring Than Hickory

Oak provides a range of natural shades, typically more uniform across each plank, making it easier to match with different interiors.

Hickory, however, shows significant color variation within the same piece, offering a distinct, high-contrast look.

Oak Stains More Evenly Than Hickory

Oak absorbs stains evenly, allowing for a variety of color transformations. Hickory’s strong natural patterns can make achieving a uniform stain look more challenging, potentially limiting staining options or requiring professional help.

Hickory And Oak Have Similar Water Resistance

Both oak and hickory are moderately resistant to water, but neither is completely waterproof.

They need quick clean-up of spills to prevent water damage and might not be the best choices for very humid rooms or areas prone to water exposure.

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Oak Is More Budget-Friendly Than Hickory

Oak is generally more affordable, offering good value for its durability and appearance. Hickory, being a premium wood, is pricier, reflecting its extreme hardness and unique aesthetic appeal, potentially adding more value to a home.

Oak Suits a Wider Range of Styles Than Hickory

Oak’s versatile appearance allows it to blend well with many interior designs, from modern to traditional. Hickory, with its striking grain, is especially suitable for rustic or country-style settings but can also add a unique touch to modern interiors.

Oak Is Easier to Maintain Than Hickory

Regular cleaning for both oak and hickory involves sweeping and occasional mopping. Oak’s smoother grain can be slightly easier to maintain and clean, while hickory’s textured surface might require more effort, especially in cleaning the grooves of its grain.

Oak Vs Hickory Flooring: Which One To Choose?

Oak is more budget-friendly and easier to maintain, with a classic look that suits various styles. Hickory, though pricier, offers greater durability and a unique, rustic appearance, ideal for high-traffic areas and homes with pets.

Your choice depends on balancing cost, maintenance, and aesthetic preferences.

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Oak Vs Hickory Vs Maple Flooring

When comparing oak, hickory, and maple flooring, each brings its unique qualities to your home.

Oak is known for its classic look and versatility, fitting well with various home styles and being relatively budget-friendly. It’s durable and easier to maintain, making it a common choice for many homeowners.

Hickory stands out with its striking grain patterns and exceptional hardness, making it ideal for high-traffic areas and homes with pets.

It’s tougher and more resistant to scratches and dents but comes with a higher price tag and can be more challenging to install and maintain due to its hardness and textured grain.

Maple flooring, in contrast, offers a lighter, more subtle grain pattern, giving a clean and modern look. It’s also hard and durable, but not as much as hickory, placing it somewhere between oak and hickory in terms of hardness.

Maple is generally easier to stain evenly compared to hickory and can complement a variety of interior designs, much like oak.

However, it can be prone to showing wear in high-traffic areas more so than hickory. In terms of cost, maple is typically more expensive than oak but less than hickory, offering a middle-ground option for those seeking a balance between durability, aesthetics, and price.

Related: Prefinished Vs Site Finished (Unfinished) Hardwood Floors

Wrapping Up

Both oak and hickory flooring offer distinct advantages and can greatly enhance the look and feel of your home. The decision ultimately hinges on your specific requirements and personal taste.

Consider the level of foot traffic, your budget, and the desired ambiance of your space.

Whether you lean towards the classic charm of oak or the robust resilience of hickory, each choice promises to add lasting value and style to your home. Remember, the right flooring can transform a house into a home, reflecting your personality and lifestyle.

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