Oak vs Hickory Flooring: Important Differences

Hickory is one of the most durable materials for flooring. However, many consumers overlook it in favor of oak, which is much more common for floors. Most people are familiar with using hickory for cabinets, though. If you’re the type of person who researches all of their options before making a decision about home renovations, you might want to compare oak vs hickory flooring so that you achieve the outcome that you desire.

Several species of oak and hickory are native to North America. For many American consumers, this is important. You can support the local economy by choosing wood flooring that is sourced and manufactured in the U.S. The abundance of these hardwoods makes them easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

Appearance of Oak vs Hickory Flooring

While function is important, we will get to that later in the article. Aesthetics play a significant role in flooring choices. Your floors should reflect your style and coordinate with the rest of your decor. Hickory and oak are both classic choices.

Grain Pattern

Oak has a fairly consistent grain pattern. Its appearance depends on the type of oak, the way that it’s cut and the stain color. However, it generally provides a traditional look. Rift-sawn and plain-sawn planks offer the most consistency of appearance. The grain in these types of cuts runs parallel to the board, and there are few, if any, wavy patterns. Live-sawn wood highlights the variation in grain pattern and contains more curving lines.

Hickory is usually bolder than oak. It has an extremely varied grain pattern with plenty of contrasts, swirls, knots and waves. To make the most of its unique appearance, manufacturers often cut hickory in wider planks than oak.

If you want a subtle design that adapts to any living or working space, oak flooring is probably the way to go. Hickory is much busier, and some people find it distracting. However, if you want the floor to stand out and add interest to your environment, you might want to consider hickory flooring.

Even if you’re looking at engineered hardwood or laminate, it’s helpful to keep the differences between oak and hickory flooring in mind. These materials mimic the look of each type of flooring and maintain the characteristics of the different hardwoods.


White oak has a neutral brown tone. It falls in the medium-brown range and may contain notes of honey and sepia. Red oak is lighter than white oak and has pink or salmon undertones.

Hickory is lighter in color than oak. However, it has a wider range of hues and shades within each plank. The heartwood warms up the space with a reddish cast. However, most hickory is extremely neutral and ranges from beige to medium brown.

Both materials accept stain well. Therefore, you can adjust the tone to complement your environment. Adding a dark stain to hickory makes it look more uniform. The distinctive characteristics will show through, creating an interesting finish that’s less chaotic than that of unstained hickory. Staining oak also camouflages some of the variation in the planks, delivering consistent results. An unexpected stain color can take your oak floors from subdued to dramatic.

Oak and hickory flooring can both be distressed. This process adds character to any hardwood floor, making it look worn in certain places. It also makes the planks look like vintage wood flooring.

Durability of Hickory vs Oak Flooring

Hickory is one of the hardest types of wood for flooring. It has a rating of 1820 on the Janka hardness scale. Only pecan and exotic hardwoods, such as Brazilian walnut and Patagonian rosewood, are harder than hickory.

White oak is rated 1360 on the Janka hardness scale, and red oak is rated 1290. While oak is harder than many other popular flooring choices, including pine, black cherry and teak, it is softer than hickory.

Therefore, hickory is a solid choice for high-traffic areas and rough activity. It’s ideal for play areas, mudrooms and foyers but can be used in any room. Because it is resistant to scratches, it won’t be easily damaged by pets, furniture or falling objects.

Interestingly, hickory is not as stable as oak in the face of temperature and fluctuations. This could be due to the way that the planks are cut.

But hardwood is an organic material that is always susceptible to moisture damage. Even if the wood is sealed, it deteriorates faster when it’s exposed to moisture. Therefore, if you’re considering installing flooring in a bathroom or basement, you might want to look at alternatives.

Engineered hardwood is more waterproof than solid hardwood. Therefore, hickory or oak engineered hardwood is likely a better choice for moisture-prone areas. If you already know that you want engineered hardwood, you can base your decision off of the appearance because both materials have similar properties otherwise.

Does Oak or Hickory Flooring Cost More?

The price of flooring varies depending on the grade, quality and manufacturer. Because oak is more abundant, it’s generally less expensive than hickory. Still, you should look into all of your options before making a decision. The finish, plank size, texture and installation method also affect the cost of the floor.

Because it is harder, hickory is more difficult to work with. It takes longer to cut through a plank of hickory than oak. You also need to pre-drill nail and screw holes to avoid cracking the wood. A professional flooring installer understands how to work with various hardwoods to provide you with optimal results.

Keep your lifestyle and the durability of the wood in mind when you’re pricing out hickory and oak flooring. If you expect that your floors will be exposed to plenty of abuse, you will likely save money in the long run with a more durable option. If you go with oak, you may end up spending more to repair and maintain it over your floors’ lifespan.

Do You Have to Care for Oak and Hickory Differently?

Oak and hickory floors have similar maintenance needs. As with any hardwood, you should keep the surface free of abrasive particles. Sweep them regularly. Dirt that accumulates in the grooves and cracks wears down the finish. Pet hair that gathers in these areas can accumulate moisture.

These hardwoods withstand vacuuming well. However, you should make sure that your vacuum is designed for hard flooring so that it doesn’t scratch the finish.

While these hardwoods can withstand some humidity, they will swell, buckle and warp if they’re submerged in water. Leaving wet towels or spills on the floor dulls the finish in those areas, creating a mottled appearance. Clean up moisture from the floors immediately, and dry the floors after mopping them.

Finally, hickory doesn’t tend to discolor with age like oak does. Therefore, it might be a better option for sunroom and other areas that are exposed to UV light.

How Much is Marble Flooring?

Even though it’s not the most versatile, durable or expensive material, marble flooring holds a special place in our impressions of luxury. Marble is certainly elegant. But it can be as understated as it is dramatic. Some marble is so subtle that you mistake it for quartz or tile at first glance. Is it the epitome of luxury? And if you love the look of marble flooring, you probably wonder, “Is marble flooring expensive?”

What Makes Marble Flooring so Luxurious?

There is something so serene and refreshing about marble. It’s not just the delicious sensation that you get when you glide across it in bare feet, but also the way that it makes you marvel at the beauty of nature.

Marble is as grounded as it is lavish. It is formed in the ground and mined from quarries. Each slab of marble is unique. Your marble floor will not be identical to any other marble floor. This rare quality makes marble desirable.

But marble is a natural stone with inherent beauty. It can be polished to a smooth sheen, making it silky to the touch. The reflections that bounce off of the surface create depth and illumination. Although it is cool, marble retains temperature well and feels comfortable underfoot.

Marble flooring is also extremely durable. When maintained properly, marble can last many lifetimes. Because it is water resistant, marble flooring is suitable for high-moisture areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms. When it is used in living spaces and bedrooms, it offers a surprising warmth.

How Much Does Marble Flooring Cost?

Most residential marble flooring is made with marble tiles. These cost between $5 and $40 per square foot. Professional installation protects your investment and ensures the longevity of the floor. Installation costs an additional $3 to $7 per square foot. According to HomeAdvisor, the average total cost is between $10 and $20 per square foot. Luxury marble slabs cost between $50 and $80 per square foot.

Below are some general ideas of the cost of marble compared to other flooring materials (per square foot):

Factors That Affect Marble Flooring Prices

The following elements influence the price of marble flooring:

  • Flooring type – Marble tiles are much less expensive than solid slabs.
  • Complexity – An intricate design or complicated layout can boost the cost.
  • Additional prep services – Installation costs more if it includes floor removal or subfloor repair.
  • Custom sizes – Standard marble tiles are generally 12 by 12 inches or 12 by 18 inches.
  • Thickness – Thicker tiles are more durable and more expensive.
  • Finish – Tumbled finishes reduce the slickness of the surface, which is ideal for bathrooms and poolside areas.

Basic tiles usually hover around the $10 per square foot range. Specialty marble typically starts around $45 per square foot.

How the Grade of Marble Affects the Price

Marble’s quality and appearance are rated on a grading system. Grade A is more expensive than grade D. However, it’s not always preferable for flooring.

  • Grade A – Few natural imperfections, consistent coloring and little veining; this is the least dramatic type of marble.
  • Grade B – Few flaws, dry veining; this marble contains subtle veining that may be filled to reinforce the structure of the stone.
  • Grade C – Moderate flaws, significant dry veining, voids and pitting; the manufacturer fills chipped areas and dry veins to stabilize the marble.
  • Grade D – Significant flaws; this grade requires repairs before it can be polished and used, but it results in some of the most dramatic effects.

Types of Marble by Cost

The type of marble that’s used for decorating is classified into several categories. Each group has a distinct appearance and quality. The following are the most common types of marble, arranged by price per square foot:

  • Carrara – White surface, uniform texture, little to no veining, $6 to $12
  • Crema Marfil – Light surface with beige base, honey-colored veining, $6 to $12
  • Calacatta – Light surface, warm glow, subtle veining, $12+
  • Breccia – Dark and dramatic, comes in many colors, high contrast, $10 to $30
  • Emperador – High contrast, illusion of depth, increased variation in veining and colors, $70 to $90

How to Save Money on Marble Flooring

Although marble is one of the most expensive flooring materials, it pays for itself in longevity. You can save money on flooring repairs and replacements down the road by maintaining your marble floor properly.

Maintain Your Marble Floor

woman hand on marble floor

You’ll get the most life out of your luxury flooring by keeping it clean. Sweep and use a dust mop frequently. Doing this will eliminate the particles of dirt that degrade the floor. Be careful when using a vacuum cleaner on marble floors. The wheels and hard components can mar the finish.

Blot up spills quickly. Acidic foods and beverages can stain the marble. Therefore, you don’t want to spread the stain by wiping it around the floor. Only use mild dish soap with water or a specialty product to deep clean marble flooring.

Use an appropriate sealant to protect your marble floors from stains. Depending on the level of traffic that your floor is exposed to, you’ll need to reapply the sealant once or twice a year.

Marble feels hard under your feet, but it is prone to getting scratched and scuffed. Protect high-traffic areas with area rugs. Keeping rambunctious pets and children’s toys away from marble floors will also reduce the chances of damaging your floors.

Choose Small Tiles

Although marble slabs make for impressive flooring, they’re expensive. The price of marble increases with larger tiles. However, smaller tiles may fall within your budget. Standard-sized tiles are also more cost-effective than custom sizes.

Fill Small Spaces

You don’t have to cover your entire floor plan in marble to benefit from its splendor. Use it as an accent in smaller areas, such as bathrooms, hallways and foyers. Creating a pattern with small tiles creates interest without requiring truckloads of material. You can also create a base with lower-priced tile and reserve the specialty marble for accents.

Hire a Professional

While it costs more to hire a professional than to lay the tile yourself, working with an expert saves you money in a number of ways. They’re insured, which means that you won’t be liable for costly mistakes or accidents on their end. Marble requires special equipment, and a professional is likely to work more efficiently and produce less waste. Moreover, professional installation optimizes the longevity of your floors. You’re less likely to have to deal with costly repairs down the road.

Consider Alternatives to Marble Flooring

If you love the look of marble flooring but don’t feel aligned with the price tag, you have plenty of options for achieving similar results. The following materials come in designs that mimic marble but have a lower price tag:

  • Porcelain and ceramic tile
  • Vinyl plank flooring
  • Laminate flooring

While these materials don’t have the same feel or requirements of care, they may offer benefits that make them preferable. For example, vinyl and laminate are softer underfoot and excellent for families with kids. Porcelain and ceramic don’t stain as readily as marble. Check out some of our other flooring articles to research the best options for you.

The Best Flooring For a Sunroom

A sunroom creates a transitional space between your home and yard. These spaces are often breezy and light-filled, giving you a view of the outdoors while protecting you, your furniture and your flooring from the elements.

Top Needs of Sunroom Flooring

You want your sunroom to feel as inviting and cozy as your living room. However, you can’t always use the same flooring in a sunroom as you would in a traditional indoor living space. Consider the following factors when choosing flooring for a sunroom:


Your sunroom is exposed to harsher elements than the other rooms in your home. If the space isn’t air conditioned, it’s probably more humid than your living room. Even if it is climate-controlled, a sunroom is often exposed to intense sunlight.

Your flooring needs to withstand the heat and resist damage from UV rays. It must also accommodate extreme temperature changes. Some of the less rugged materials can crack or buckle if the weather shifts rapidly.


The abundant sunroom flooring options make it easy for you to select a color that complements your style. You don’t have to match it with the rest of your home.

Many people choose neutral colors for their sunroom flooring to highlight the natural feel of the room. Lighter colors are often preferable to dark ones because they reflect sunlight. Dark hues absorb light and can feel hot to the touch. This might be a benefit in the winter, but it can render the room unusable in the summer.

Moisture Barrier

Especially if it’s in a screened-in porch or high-humidity area, flooring must be moisture-resistant so that it doesn’t rot, warp or develop mold. Therefore, you should choose a material that naturally repels moisture.

You’ll also need to create an adequate moisture barrier below the floor. Placing organic materials, such as hardwood, against a concrete slab invite moisture problems. If your sunroom is raised, have a vapor barrier installed in the crawlspace below it.

Hardwood Flooring for Sunrooms

Hardwood is a popular choice for indoor floors. Many homeowners extend it to the sunroom to provide a cohesive look throughout the home. Many types of hardwoods are ideal for transitional spaces.

White oak is one of the best hardwoods for sunrooms. This dense wood resists moisture and scratching. You can extend its weatherproof properties by using an adequate sealant.
Avoid using richly colored hardwoods or dark stains. These will fade in a sunlit room. Choose a light color or planks with a dappled tone to reduce the bleaching effects of UV light. Protecting the flooring with a carpet and moving the furniture regularly will help prevent sun damage.


  • Natural, traditional look and feel
  • Doesn’t get too hot in sunlight
  • Brings a sense of warmth to the space


  • Not the best choice if the room isn’t climate controlled
  • Feels cold in the winter
  • Not intended for floors that get rained on
  • Not ideal over a concrete slab

Can You Use Engineered Hardwood in Sunrooms?

Engineered hardwood is more water resistant, moisture tolerant and stable than natural hardwood. It stands up well to fluctuations in temperature and doesn’t absorb moisture readily. Because engineered hardwood is made of multiple layers, it has a sturdier composition. The layers are applied in different directions, providing strength and reducing the chance that the wood will warp or buckle.

The top layer is a hardwood veneer, which delivers the visual appeal and adds protection. The veneer makes the surface look like real hardwood. If the veneer isn’t thick enough, though, it can scratch or peel off easily. Thin veneer also reduces the flooring’s water-resistant qualities. Therefore, you should look for engineered hardwood with thick, high-quality veneer if you plan to use it in a sunroom.


  • Excellent choice for installation over a concrete slab
  • Broad range of colors and styles
  • May be more affordable than hardwood


  • Difficult to refinish if the flooring gets damaged
  • Not suitable for exposure to rain
  • Low-quality versions won’t be durable in a sunroom

Is Tile Flooring Ideal for a Sunroom?

Tile is a common choice for sunroom flooring in warm, humid climates. Many types of tile are heat and fade resistant. This flooring is also waterproof, making it perfect for rooms that are open to the elements. You can sweep and mop tile floors easily. However, tile flooring can be difficult to vacuum. Still, it handles heavy traffic and spills.

But tile can crack when your kids run through the sunroom in their cleats or your cat drops a potted plant on the floor. Tile also makes for a hard landing if you or a toddler trip and fall. Still, you can throw a rug onto the floor to make it more comfortable and protect it from damage.


  • Stays cool in the summer
  • Easy to clean
  • Create unique patterns and mosaics


  • Intolerant to extreme conditions
  • Not ideal for cold climates
  • More fragile than some other options

Installing Vinyl Floors in Sunrooms

Vinyl is one of the most waterproof materials around. In fact, it’s used to make pipes and shower curtain liners. Therefore, you might want to consider it for a sunroom. It holds up well to heavy traffic, spills and falling pots. It can feel cool underfoot. However, it’s not as refreshing as tile.

Because vinyl comes in planks, it’s easy to install yourself. It can be a budget-friendly option for sunroom flooring, giving you a chance to show off your style without breaking the bank. It offers an affordable flooring option for every room, helping you maintain a cohesive look throughout your home.

However, vinyl can become brittle when it’s exposed to intense sunlight. Therefore, it might not be the best choice for a sunroom with lots of windows. Using plants, furniture and throw rugs strategically can protect this type of flooring and help it last longer.


  • Waterproof
  • Easy to install yourself
  • Comes in unique and traditional designs
  • Slip resistant


  • Susceptible to fading
  • Deteriorates in bright sunlight

Laminate Flooring for Sunrooms

Laminate is a combination of materials that are engineered for affordability and ease of use. Layers of high-density fiberboard are pressed together to create the planks. This material is covered with a melamine laminate that is printed to mimic any material, including hardwood and tile. The laminate is covered by a clear, protective coating, which prevents moisture from penetrating the planks and safeguards the surface from wear and tear.


  • Springy and comfortable underfoot
  • May resist fading better than vinyl
  • Easy to clean


  • Not the most waterproof option
  • Can’t be exposed to the elements
  • Not as tolerant of heavy foot traffic as other materials

What About Carpet in a Sunroom?

Putting carpeting in a sunroom protects the floor from foot traffic, moisture and sunlight. While carpet makes the room feel comfortable and welcoming, it isn’t always the best choice.

Carpet traps dirt particles, preventing them from entering the rest of the home. But you might have to spend extra time cleaning the rug in your sunroom. You should avoid traditional rugs and carpeting if your sunroom is humid.

However, you might opt for an indoor-outdoor carpet, which won’t absorb moisture. Carpet tiles are another great choice that you can easily reinstall if they become damaged.


  • Comfortable underfoot
  • Protects the floor from dirt, fading and damage
  • Wide selection available
  • Reacts well to extreme temperature changes


  • Gets dirty easily
  • Absorbs moisture
  • Increases the risk of mold and mildew growth

How to Make the Best Choice

If you can’t decide, research a few different materials. Talk to experts that can help you envision the final results. Does a particular aesthetic attract your interest? Once you select a few options, think about their benefits and disadvantages for your lifestyle. Which one fits best with your budget? The best choice will begin to make itself apparent.

Red Oak vs. White Oak Flooring

If you’re looking for hardwood flooring, you will come across a lot of oak. This type of hardwood is plentiful, durable and versatile. While oak has been used in traditional homes for centuries, it complements many styles of decor. White oak has the neutral honey tones that most people think of when it comes to this type of flooring. But red oak is another option with distinctive characteristics.

The Basics of Red and White Oak

Red and white oak trees grow abundantly throughout most of the eastern U.S. These trees develop quickly, growing more than two feet every year until they reach maturity. Each subspecies has special characteristics, adding variety and interest to the hardwood planks that are available for flooring.

Oak is a particularly hard and durable wood. It resists scratching and stands up to heavy traffic. It also has moisture-resistant properties, which help it last long indoors and outside. Red and white oak both showcase the beneficial characteristics of this hardwood. However, they have some distinct differences when it comes to appearance, durability and price.


White oak has tones that fall into the brown colorway. While it can have a rich, warm, appearance, its shades favor the yellow family. White oak is often preferable in rooms that have other cool tones, such as grays and blues.

Red oak is not as dark as white oak. It also has honey and brown tones, but those are pervaded by a rosy hue.

Both types of hardwood flooring take stain well. Therefore, you can adjust the color depending on your preferences and decor. If you’re using a light or cool-toned stain, you will likely have better results by applying it to white oak. However, medium and dark stains make white and red oak look almost identical.

Because white oak is lighter in color, its patterns don’t stand out as much as they do in red oak. Therefore, red oak flooring may look livelier and attracts more attention than white oak.

Grain Patterns

Regardless of the type of wood that you use, you can vary the appearance by choosing one of the following cut styles. These influence the grain pattern along the surface of the plank:

  • Rift sawn – The plank is cut diagonally across the rings, creating a uniform pattern of mottled striping along the surface.
  • Quarter sawn – The plank is cut perpendicular to the growth rings, creating long, straight grain patterns that span the length of the board and flecks that interrupt the striped graining.
  • Flat sawn – The rings lie parallel to the face of the board, creating wavy grain patterns.
  • Live sawn – The log is cut through the heartwood, preserving the full strength of the wood and showcasing organic, undulating graining.

Red and white oak have different tendencies when they’re cut using specific methods. Quarter-sawn white oak planks often deliver the most consistent look. However, whereas the markings on quarter-sawn white oak are subtle, they stand out more in red oak. In fact, red oak generally showcases variations in the wood more dramatically than white oak.


Both types of oak hardwood have tight rings and a strong structure. They have stood the test of time as construction materials for home. But white oak is slightly more durable than red oak. According to the Janka scale, which identifies the hardness of lumber, white oak has a rating of 1360, and red oak has a rating of 1290.

Because it’s harder, white oak resists scratches, scuffs, gouges and dents. It is also more appropriate for outdoor use, such as on a deck or patio. However, the intricate and obvious grain patterns in red oak disguise scratches well. Red and white oak are both popular choices for indoor flooring, stair treads and handrails.

Again, the cut style influences the durability of the wood. Narrower, rift or quarter-sawn planks are the least susceptible to cracking and breaking. Wider pieces with variable grain patterns respond inconsistently to force. Rift-sawn wood also resists twisting and warping more than planks that have wavy grain markings.

Moisture Resistance

Oak is a porous, organic material that’s more prone to moisture damage than inorganic materials, such as vinyl flooring. Water damage from a flood or burst pipe could cause it to swell and buckle. However, if the hardwood isn’t sitting under a puddle, it can resist moisture relatively well. Because it’s so hard, it doesn’t soak up water quickly. Therefore, you can protect it by wiping up spills quickly and keeping wet towels off of the floor.

But if you’re particularly concerned about moisture, you might prefer white oak to red oak. White oak contains tylose, a plant material that obstructs the open channels within the wood and makes it less porous. This property makes it ideal for making barrels and boats as well as indoor and outdoor flooring. Because red oak doesn’t contain tylose, it’s more absorbent.

The cut style also influences the wood’s water resistance. Flat-sawn pieces are more susceptible to the effects of moisture than quarter-sawn planks. Live-sawn boards tend to be wide and have an inconsistent grain pattern, which absorbs moisture more in some places than others.

Floorboards shift as they absorb moisture. Therefore, they can warp, bend, lift and crack. It’s often best to use boards with consistent grain markings to prevent uneven deterioration. Sealing the wood properly also protects it against water damage.


White oak and red oak flooring tend to be comparable in cost. However, white oak may be slightly more expensive because these trees take longer to grow to a harvestable size than red oak trees.

The grade of the flooring has a lot to do with the price. Experts use the following rating system to identify the grade of the wood:

  • Select – The most expensive grade of oak hardwood, it has few imperfections. This grade offers the most consistent grain pattern, with only small knots permitted.
  • #1 common – This grade features more variation among the color and grain pattern.
  • #2 common – This wood is more rustic and less expensive than the other grades. It features dramatic variations, knots, wormholes and shorter planks. Sometimes, this is called cabin grade flooring.

Research the availability and cost of different types of flooring with various manufacturers. The prices fluctuate, and some manufacturers may have styles that aren’t available from other companies.

Matching Your Red or White Oak Flooring

If you’re repairing a section of your flooring or want to match the hardwood to the rest of the home, it helps to identify whether you have red or white oak flooring. If you can get your hands on a plank that shows the cross-section, look at the end of the wood. Seeing plenty of open vessels indicates that it’s probably red oak. Coating the wood with a clear sealer also brings out the undertones. Boards with a salmon glow are red oak, and pieces with a tan hue are likely white oak.

Although they have similar characteristics, the different types of wood won’t match when they’re installed next to each other. However, you can blend the different types of flooring using a medium or dark stain.

If you’re trying to pair your hardwood flooring with other elements, such as cabinets and countertops, consider complementing the tones instead of matching them exactly. In most cases, you can combine red oak cabinets with white oak flooring and vice versa. The neutral undertones of white oak make it appropriate for almost every situation.

What Flooring Goes with Hickory Cabinets?

Whenever you update an area in your home, you have to ask yourself whether it complements your existing décor. This is especially true when it comes to renovating your kitchen cabinets. The best flooring for hickory cabinets creates a cohesive look without being overstated or monochromatic.

What Do Hickory Cabinets Look Like?

Hickory is a popular wood for cabinets because of its strength and durability. Although it has a neutral tone, hickory is not boring. The wood has a distinctive grain, which provides visual interest.

Because of its informal nature, hickory is often used in rustic kitchens. However, it is versatile enough to work well in modern, minimalist, traditional and eclectic homes.

When pairing hickory cabinets with flooring, you should take into account the finish on the cabinets. Hickory is typically left natural. The lighter tones range from beige to gold. The darker areas can have orange, red or chocolate notes.

Sometimes, hickory cabinets are coated with a pale finish that is similar to a whitewash. This minimizes the dramatic variations in tone and provides a neutral backdrop for many flooring styles.

Identifying Warm or Cool Tones

Identifying whether your hickory cabinets contain warm or cool tones can guide you toward the right flooring selection. Warm tones are sunny and vibrant. They have an overall gold, yellow, orange, pink or red vibe. Cool hues have less of a honey or pink undertone. If your hickory cabinets are a cool shade, you might describe them as white or grayish.

Flooring With Warm Hues

Choosing flooring in warm tones will bring a cheery, sunny atmosphere to your kitchen. This is especially true if your hickory cabinets contain strong yellow, peach, pink or orange notes. However, you should avoid choosing flooring that matches your cabinets exactly. Too much of the same color will overpower your kitchen. If your flooring leans toward the warm side, make sure that it is either lighter or darker than the cabinets to break up the monotony.

Flooring With Cool Hues

Cool-toned flooring is usually a safe choice with hickory cabinets. If the cabinets are warm, the complimentary color of the flooring will provide the perfect contrast to balance it out. If the cabinets are cool, you’ll create a neutral palette that can be tweaked with accents and accessories.

Should Your Hickory Cabinets Match Your Floors?

While some interior decorators will tell you that your cabinets and floors should not match exactly, many people choose a uniform palette for their kitchen. You can match the finish of your cabinetry and floors as long as the rest of your décor breaks it up. A warm honey tone across the floors and cabinets can make your kitchen glow without dominating the space if your walls and furniture remain simple and neutral. White countertops and dining furniture with stainless steel appliances would complete this look.

If you can’t help but try to match your cabinets and flooring, you’ll be hard pressed to do so with hickory. The wood grain offers plenty of variation. It may have spots that are quite light and patterns that are very dark.

One piece of advice is to isolate one hue from the cabinetry and find flooring to match. If your cabinets are generally light with chestnut streaks running through them, you could go with chestnut flooring to draw out the design. On the other hand, you could select flooring that corresponds with the lighter beige tones.

Tone on Tone

Instead of matching the exact tones of your flooring and cabinets, consider a tone-on-tone look. This incorporates varying colors from the same family. However, the finishes can be markedly darker or lighter than one another. Depending on the undertones in your cabinets, you can go with a cream, yellow, orange, red or chocolate tone-on-tone aesthetic.

It doesn’t matter whether your floor is darker or lighter than your cabinets, though. Just try not to make it the same shade. You can also vary the type of material in the same color to break up a monochromatic environment with plenty of texture.

Add Some Drama

The more monochrome your kitchen is, the less dramatic the effect will be. Creating contrast will draw the eye to distinct areas and add interest. For example, you can punch up the prominence of the knots in the wood by choosing flooring with similar dark qualities.

You can also add drama by using shadowy colors for your flooring and accents. Consider installing a dark brown floor and black countertops. Alternatively, you can choose deep gray for your floors. This is an excellent way to generate a modern or cozy atmosphere in an otherwise rustic or informal kitchen.

Remember that you don’t have to stick with brown, white or gray for your flooring. Blue and violet hues contrast well with yellow-tinged hickory. Red or terra-cotta ceramic adds spice.

Consider the Pattern

Unless it has been painted, hickory wood generally has an obvious pattern. You don’t want the configuration of the wood to contrast with your floor. Therefore, you may want to select a flooring option with minimal patterning.

That doesn’t mean that you should install floors with a completely flat hue. In fact, monochrome flooring is difficult to come by unless you’re looking at vinyl or tile. Plus, totally flat color on the floors can be more eye-catching than the interesting design of the cabinets.

Look for flooring with a pattern that’s slightly more subtle than the grain on your cabinets. If your cabinets have minimal patterning, you can showcase a more dramatic texture on your floors. One way to do this is to create a monochromatic mosaic design using tiles. This will create a neutral backdrop for your cabinets without being bland.

What if Your Flooring Isn’t Wood?

Don’t assume that you have to stick with wood flooring if you have hickory cabinets. Vinyl, bamboo, tile and concrete are valid options for kitchen flooring.

No matter what material you choose, keep the warm/cool question in mind. Even white tile features a temperature variance. If you go with white flooring, hold it up to a piece of paper. If the flooring looks yellower than the paper, it is warm. If it looks grayer, it’s cool.

Marble and concrete look great with hickory cabinets because they highlight the neutral tones in the wood. Marble adds a sense of luxury to hickory cabinets, moderating the cottage vibe. Concrete ranges from rustic to modern, and it’s an edgy, unexpected way to underscore the cool colors in the cabinets.

When pairing hickory cabinets with flooring, you don’t want your kitchen to match so well that it looks flat. Still, you have a wide range of options, from tone-on-tone to high contrast. The best flooring stands up to your aesthetics and lifestyle and makes your home look and feel great.

Types of Carpets and Rugs

We listed some classifications of carpets and area rugs last time.Today we will look into the rest of those classifications and more samples starting with synthetic fibers.

Synthetic Fibers

  1. Nylon.Nylon has a soft and luxurious feel and comes in a variety of colors that has great resiliency and abrasion-resistance making it an ideal choice in high-traffic areas. Its flexible and easy to maintain.
  2. Polyester.This synthetic material is another great alternative since it has great stain-resistance not to mention the variety of colors they come in. It is easy to clean and won’t fade off that easily.
  3. Polypropylene.Also known as olefin, this material resists water-based stains and static electricity. This is a popular choice for outdoor carpeting.

Classified according to manufacture

Depending on what particular region they originated, the manner wherein carpets and rugs are made as well as the materials they are made from will vary greatly.

Before we proceed, in order to better understand these constructs, its best we go back to the piles mentioned in the previous post: the cut and the loop. As mentioned earlier, the cut loop is still popular today because it is durable and well-suited for high traffic areas.

Cut loop can be further classified into:

  • Textured Plush — the texture adds to aesthetics as it covers up footprints and marks which makes it an ideal whole-house carpeting choice. Its decorative, casual and versatile that it can be put just about anywhere.
  • Saxony — reflects traditional elegance and refinement, this is best suited for interiors with moderate traffic and ideal for places for entertaining guests like the kitchen or dining area and the living room.
  • Friezé — this is a curly and richly  textured surface because yarns are extremely twisted and while it may appear informal, this is great in concealing unwanted marks like vacuum lines and footprints.
  • Plush — is best for low traffic areas and formal rooms since its velvety texture easily shows footprints and vacuum marks though it comes with a luxurious feel.

Loop piles can be either of the three:

  • Level loop pile — generally suited for high traffic areas. Loops are of the same height and its informal appearance makes it ideal for contemporary and cottage furnishing.
  • Multi-level loop pile —  with its two to three different loop heights to create pattern effects, this type offers durability and a casual flare.
  • Cut-loop pile —  a mix of cuts and loops, this one brings in variety and a more sculpted appearance that’s equally unique and stylish.

Now that we have a basic description of the different piles, we can now look further into the different constructs of carpets and rugs.

  1. Woven– these piles can be berber or plush and are produced in big looms that usually involves colorful and intricate patterns. Due to its ornate details the requires a lot of labor, it is generally the most expensive kind of carpets and rugs.
  2. Needle Felt– this is a stylish and modern technique that uses electrostatic attraction of fiber strands to create a more durable sheet for area rugs or carpeting. The compression of fibers use needles and this type is generally employed for high traffic, commercial grade use.
  3. Tufted– for this type, piles injected into the backing material and then bonded to a second backing to make the area rug or carpet more stable durable. Tufted rugs are arguable the most popular type of floor covering used around the world.
  4. Embroidered– produced by application of stitches on a base cloth. Tedious and time-consuming, the process requires some degree of skill and craftsmanship in order to produce a detailed and richly designed product.
  5. Braidedthis type features a distinct weaving texture.Braids are arranged in such a manner that braids of yarns appear as if they have been woven together. Depending on the material used, these types of area rugs and carpets can work best both indoor and outdoors.

Types of Carpets and Rugs

In our last post, we talked about carpeting essentials or the things you need to know before buying carpets. Today we will talk about the different types of carpets and area rugs so you can choose one that will specifically suit your need.

Before we go any further, we shall distinguish between wall-to-wall carpeting, carpet tiles and area rugs.

As the name implies, wall-to-wall carpeting refers to traditional sheet carpeting that literally covers a room from one end to another.

Carpet tiles are cut into squares or other specific sizes and are either made with tongues and grooves on the edges, has suction backing or are pre-applied with adhesives to hold them into place. Each carpet tile can have one or all of these features for better installation.

Area rugs on the other hand were initially intended to protect certain areas where there is high traffic that poses threat to the flooring. These days however, area rugs are used more to create little secured spaces that offers not just protection to the flooring but warm, comfort and aesthetics as well. Imagine a warm-looking sitting area accentuated an area rug in a living room that is laid with rustic wide plank hardwood flooring? Or one on an elegant dark granite?

Now that we have that cleared up, its important to understand that in general there are only 2 types of carpets: the loop pile and the cut pile. While loop pile carpets are the more longer-lasting one between the two, cut piles are equally popular because they offer more comfort being softer and fluffier that loop pile ones.

Carpets and area rugs can be further classified according to fiber

Area rugs, carpets and carpet tiles come in various forms and are made up of different fibers – some even from recycled materials and synthetics fibers. Below are the common types of fibers used for area rugs:

Organic Fibers:

1. Wool. Known for its durability and elegance, wool carpets are ideal for high moisture areas since it can be easily dyed and has excellent piling quality. Generally suited for tough areas, this natural fiber not only has great wear resistance, being a natural fiber also makes it more less prone to allergens.

2. Silk. Another natural fiber, silk is known for it high tensile strength that has been used since the olden times in oriental cultures. Compared to wool carpets, silk are high maintenance and are recommended for use only in even and dry areas owing to the delicateness of the fiber.

3. Jute. Commonly used in weaving area or accent rugs, jute is very economical and comes in various patterns. It is highly flexible and can either be woven, knitted, sewn and braided though it does not go well in high moisture areas.

4. Bamboo. As an abundant evergreen and being highly sustainable, bamboo fibers are now also being used in making area and accent rugs. Having a gorgeous natural shade, bamboo’s honey-tones and light browns are really a favorite choice for interiors. Its hypoallergenic, resistant to molds and water.

5. Coir. This loose and leathery fiber is extracted from coconut shells making it an environmentally-conscious choice for an area rug or carpeting material. Initially smooth and fine strands these brown and white fiber becomes strong and durable after weaving. Its cheap, hypoallergenic and cleverly traps dirt and dust making rooms tidier and neater.

We will look into the synthetic fibers and other classification of carpets and area rugs in our next post.

The VOC Connection

VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds have caught the attention concerned individuals and organizations alike. These are carbon-based compounds which are generally invisible – neither seen nor smelled but is a widely-recognized pollutant associated with a variety of health risks.

Studies have shown that these compounds are related to allergies and several illnesses in infants, small children and adults alike. Headaches, respiratory problems and skin diseases have all been linked to VOCs.

These chemical compounds are used in the manufacture of flooring products, underlays or carpet tiles’ backing, flooring adhesives, finishes and cleaning materials.

Since they seem to be present in almost every stage and aspect of flooring, it will be very difficult to make our homes or establishments VOC-free. What’s important is to be mindful of the products you’re going to use and make sure it has the minimum amount of VOC on it.

A commonly used example of VOC is formaldehyde which is commonly used in sealants, finishes and adhesives not just in flooring products but also in furniture. Some also use formaldehyde to cure flooring materials like bamboo.

Here are some points to keep in mind when shopping for flooring products:

  • Bamboo. In general, bamboo flooring is an environmentally-sound flooring material. However, the process of manufacturing bamboo flooring makes it sometimes a health hazard to consumers. Be sure to choose bamboo flooring that is formaldehyde free and has acceptable levels of VOC – it should have low-to no-VOC content in them.
  • Carpet. Earlier carpets used to have a high volume of VOCs in them. Nowadays, The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have worked on lowering levels of harmful compounds on carpets as well as their backing materials. When you have low-levels of VOCs on your carpets, be sure to keep the room well-ventilated and open by opening up windows.
  • Cork. Cork flooring uses highly toxic materials like phenol and melamine though these become non-harmful once the product has been processed. This is a truly green product. What you should keep in mind however specially when installing cork flooring glued down is to check the adhesive and finishing materials.
  • Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood. While no VOCs are used in making both solid and engineered hardwood flooring, sometimes the finishing and cleaning materials are the ones that contain the harmful compounds.
  • Linoleum. Made almost entirely from natural materials, linoleum is an excellent alternative if you want to make your floor VOC-free.
  • Vinyl. While most people confuse between vinyl and linoleum flooring, vinyl is made up of chemical compounds. The main component is: PVC which is believed to contain certain chemicals that can cause serious illnesses.

If you believe that you’re flooring has high VOC content and would want to lower if not remove the compound’s presence in your room, here are a few tips you might find useful:

  1. Look around and check existing high-VOC materials in the room. After checking, its best to have them removed – flooring, subfloor or underlayment and even furniture to make sure all possible sources of VOCs are eliminated.
  2. Choose products which are no- to low- VOC levels. That involves the flooring solution itself, the underlayment and adhesives that would be used.
  3. Finish it off with a non-VOC sealant or finish and be sure you are using maintenance and cleaning materials that are entirely VOC free.

Some Things You Need to Know About Bamboo Flooring

In one of our previous posts, we looked at some of the possible disadvantages of buying so-labeled green flooring products. Here, we take on some things we think you should know before deciding if you want and need bamboo on your living or working space and if it is indeed the appropriate material.

Bamboo Flooring in the Making

Two things everyone should consider before buying bamboo flooring because they are thinking green are these: producing bamboo flooring takes major chemical and energy inputs.

What chemical and energy inputs?

From its natural state, it takes a series of energy-consuming processes to convert bamboo into flooring boards:

  • shoots are sliced into strips;
  • strips are boiled with a solution of water and Boric acid to remove starch and sugars;
  • to add some color to bamboo flooring, it undergoes a carbonizing process through steaming under controlled heat and pressure;
  • bamboo flooring products will then undergo a laminating process to create solid boards and added with chemical adhesives like urea-formaldehyde (a reported carcinogen);
  • these bamboo boards are then cut into standard flooring planks w/ their tongues and grooves and finished with chemicals to protect the top layers;
  • before it is shipped or transported for distribution to local markets.

If you think of all that, you say to yourself: then its not really “green” after all. However, we are not saying that all bamboo flooring manufacturers are irresponsible and is not concerned with the welfare of the environment, we are advocating that we check out who are we buying from and how the products we’re buying from them are made. Buying from people engaged in unsound practices means we are supporting the ways they might be damaging the environment and risking our families or friends in the process.

5 Important Bamboo Facts Every Consumer Should Know:

  1. Bamboo expands…in length.

Hardwood which normally expands in width, hence flooring installers normally leave spaces on the side of each board to make room for expansion. Sometimes however, bamboo expands in length. Consumers should be advised to be mindful of this to prevent the ends of their bamboo flooring from buckling or warping.

  1. Hardness matters.

While bamboo ranks relatively high in the Janka Hardness scale, keep in mind that the flooring material is made for different bamboos pressed together so how it ranks in the scale may vary or may even be inaccurate. Another think to keep in mind is that carbonizing leaves bamboo flooring products softer than untreated ones.

  1. Reactions to humidity.

Moisture changes causes bamboo to react differently: fibers on each strip will naturally expand or shrink away from each other unlike in engineered hardwood where fibers are held together by plywood as its stabilizing layer. This behaviour of fibers in bamboo flooring can cause the wear layer to crack.

  1. It doesn’t automatically add up in LEED.

Just because you chose bamboo, it doesn’t mean that you automatically earn multiple points in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system. The type of bamboo flooring you use will determine how and where you can earn the credits you get.

  1. Acclimation is still important.

Most consumers assume that bamboo flooring doesn’t need to acclimate since it is made up of many joined fibers. Contrary to this is the fact that since bamboo is made up of different bamboo fibers, it required varying acclimation times.

Bamboo has many great benefits however not all bamboo flooring are created equal. If sellers don’t give you the complete score on the bamboo flooring product you are interested in, go the extra mile and do some research. Green bamboo flooring created in an unsustainable or environmentally degrading process isn’t exactly green flooring at all.

Solid Hardwood or Engineered Hardwood Which is Best to Use

While both are made of genuine hardwood, solid hardwood and engineered hardwood  been so closely
compared that there is now some sort of rivalry between these two excellent flooring choices. Homeowners and homebuyers, especially those first time ones are often baffled between the similarities and differences of the tow and can hardly tell which one would be more appropriate for their needs and best suits their requirements.


To help you with all your woes and questions, below are some basic things worth knowing about solid and engineered hardwood flooring and the advantages of one over the other:

What is solid hardwood?

Solid hardwood are famous to use until the earlier part of 1900 when there are plentiful hardwood trees and the world population is not so lush. Solid wood is ¾ inches thick. It is made from a single trunk of a good and matured solid trunk. It is seasoned well to avoid it from expanding when installed on your floor. Sometimes, contractors leave a little gap between the wood planks if ever it expands.


What is engineered hardwood?

It is a solid wood plank made by 100% wood. However, it is composed of three to five layers of wood which are glued together. Each layer is arranged criss-crossed over the other so that it can support the other layer. The criss-cross arrangement makes the engineered hardwood stronger and less prone to expansion even when humidity is high.


Which is better to use?

There is a thin line between solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring. It is difficult to tell which one is better in performance. To know how each one works, here is a close comparison for you to reflect upon:

  1. What are they made of?

    • Solid hardwood: Pure wood and no cuts from top to bottom, side to side.
    • Engineered hardwood: Three to five layers of 1/6” thick wood arranged in layers. The topmost layer is finished while the underlying layers are high density fibreboards which make the floor stronger.
  1. How thick is each type?

    • Solid hardwood: It is between 3/8” or ¾ “.
    • Engineered hardwood: You can pick sizes from 3/8” to ½” only.
  1. How wide is each type?

    • Solid hardwood: It comes in a minimal width of 3.25 inches to 11 inches. You can also get 5 inches from the store.
    • Engineered hardwood: Same as the solid hardwood, it is also 3.25” to 5” wide. You can request for wider size such as 11 inches in the floor store.

  1. What types of wood are available?

    • Solid hardwood: There are many varieties of solid hardwood. But, the most preferred species are Cherry, Pine, Oak and Mahogany.
    • Engineered hardwood: Almost all of the species of solid hardwood are available.
  1. Is it ready to use?

    • Solid hardwood: There are some stores that sell pre-finished. Most of the time, they are not yet finished that makes the installation difficult.
    • Engineered hardwood: They are always pre-finished. You can install and walk on then readily.
  1. Can you resell it?

    • Solid hardwood: Yes. The value can be higher than how much you bought it if you sell it a decade from now.
    • Engineered hardwood: Excellent. It has the same value as the solid hardwood.
  1. Can you sand it anew?

    • Solid hardwood: Yes, several times.
    • Engineered hardwood: You can sand it only once.


Choose well. Pick the floor that suits your lifestyle and will be with you for almost all of your lifetime.