Ash

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Color: Heartwood is light tan to dark brown; sapwood is creamy white. It’s similar in appearance to white oak, but frequently more yellow.

Grain: Bold, straight, moderately open grain with occasional wavy figuring. Can have strong contrast in grain in plain-sawn boards.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Sometimes confused with hickory; the zone of large pores is more distinctive in ash, similar to that of red oak.

Beech

Color: Heartwood is mostly reddish brown; sapwood is generally pale white.

Grain: Mostly closed, straight grain; fine, uniform texture. Coarser than European beech.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Only one species is native to the United States. Moderate to high color variation between boards.

Cherry – American

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Color: Heartwood is light to dark reddish brown, lustrous; sapwood is light brown to pale with a light pinkish tone. Some flooring manufacturers steam lumber to bleed the darker heartwood color into the sapwood, resulting in a more uniform color. Color darkens.

Grain: Fine, frequently wavy, uniform texture. Distinctive flake pattern on true quarter-sawn surfaces. Texture is satiny, with some gum pockets.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Significant color variation between boards.

Birch

Color: In yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis), sapwood is creamy yellow pale while; heartwood is light reddish brown tinged with red. In sweet birch (B. lenta), sapwood is light colored and heartwood is dark brown tinged with red.

Grain: Medium figuring, straight, closed grain, even texture. Occasional curly grain or wavy figure in some boards.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Yellow birch, sweet birch, paper birch. Paper birch (B. papyrifera) is softer and lower in weight and strength than yellow or sweet birch. However, yellow birch is most commonly used for flooring. Boards can vary greatly in grain and color.

Douglas Fir

Color: Heartwood is yellowish tan to light brown. Sapwood is tan to white. Heartwood may be confused with that of Southern yellow pine. Radical color change upon exposure to sunlight.

Grain: Normally straight, with occasional wavy or spiral texture. Nearly all fir flooring is vertical-grain or rift-sawn clear-grade material.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Wood varies greatly in weight and strength. Young trees of moderate to rapid growth have reddish heartwood and are called red fir. The narrow-ringed wood of old trees may be yellowish-brown and is known as yellow fir.

Hickory – Pecan

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Color: Pecan heartwood is reddish brown with dark brown stripes; sapwood is white or creamy white with pinkish tones. Hickory heartwood is tan or reddish; sapwood is white to cream, with fine brown lines.

Grain: Pecan is open, occasionally wavy or irregular. Hickory is closed, with moderate definition; somewhat rough-textured.

Variations Within Species And Grades: In both hickory and pecan, there are often pronounced differentiations in color between spring wood and summer wood. In pecan, sapwood is usually graded higher than darker heartwood. Pecan and hickory are traditionally mixed by flooring mills.

Maple

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Color: Heartwood is creamy white to light reddish brown; sapwood is pale to creamy white.

Grain: Closed, subdued grain, with medium figuring and uniform texture. Occasionally shows quilted, fiddleback, curly or bird’s-eye figuring. Figured boards often culled during grading and sold at a premium.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Black maple (B. nigrum) is also hard; other species are classified as soft.

Mesquite

Color: Light brown to dark reddish brown.

Grain: High in character, with ingrown bark and mineral streaks. Most commonly used in flooring as end-grain block, which has small irregular cracks radiating across the grain.

Variations Within Species And Grades: One grade; moderate color variations.

Oak – Red

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Color: Heartwood and sapwood are similar, with sapwood lighter in color; most pieces have a reddish tone. Slightly redder than white oak.

Grain: Open, slightly coarser (more porous) than white oak. Plain-sawn boards have a plumed or flared grain appearance; rift-sawn has a tighter grain pattern, low figuring; quarter-sawn has a flake pattern, sometimes called tiger rays or butterflies.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Over 200 subspecies in North America; great variation in color and grain, depending on the origin of the wood and differences in growing seasons. Northern, Southern and Appalachian red oak can all be divided into upland and lowland species.

Oak – White

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Color: Heartwood is light brown; some boards may have a pinkish tint or a slight grayish cast. Sapwood is white to cream.

Grain: Open, with longer rays than red oak. Occasional crotches, swirls and burls. Plain-sawn boards have a plumed or flared grain appearance; rift-sawn has a tighter grain pattern, low figuring; quarter-sawn has a flake pattern.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Considerable variation among boards in color and grain texture, but variations not as pronounced as in red oak.

Pine – Southern Yellow

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Color: Heartwood varies from light yellow/orange to reddish brown or yellowish brown; sapwood is light tan to yellowish white.

Grain: Closed, with high figuring; patterns range from clear to knotty.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Longleaf pine, shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, slash pine. All have many of the same characteristics as Douglas fir.

Walnut – American Black

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Color: Heartwood ranges from a deep, rich dark brown to a purplish black. Sapwood is nearly white to tan. Difference between heartwood and sapwood color is great; some flooring manufacturers steam lumber to bleed the darker heartwood color into the sapwood.

Grain: Mostly straight and open, but some boards have burled or curly grain. Arrangements of pores is similar to hickories and persimmon, but pores are smaller in size.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Great variety of color and figure within species, as well as variation in color among boards, especially in lower grades and from material that isn’t steamed prior to kiln-drying.

Bamboo

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Color: Typically available in light (manila/yellow tones) or dark (tannish brown) shades. Colors vary between manufacturers.

Grain: Distinctive grain pattern shows nodes from the bamboo stalks.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Available either horizontally or vertically laminated. Horizontal construction tends to show nodes more prominently.

Cherry – Brazilian

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Color: Sapwood is gray-white; heartwood is salmon red to orange-brown when fresh, and becomes russet or reddish brown when seasoned; often marked with dark streaks.

Grain: Mostly interlocked; texture is medium to rather coarse.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Moderate to high color variation.

Cork

CorkTile

Color: Varies from light to dark; many colors available depending on manufacturer

Grain: Distinctive look unlike wood – cork is actually the bark of a type of oak.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Many patterns available depending on manufacturer.

Cypress – Australian

Color: Cream-colored sapwood; heartwood is honey-gold to brown with darker knots throughout.

Grain: Closed.

Variations Within Species And Grades: High degree of color variability.

Mahogany

Mahogany
Color: Dark reddish brown.

Grain: Striped figuring in quarter-sawn selections; texture is even and very fine.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Moderate color variation.

Maple – Brazilian

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Color: Pale cream to yellow cream; no contrast between sapwood and heartwood.

Grain: Straight, fine, uniform.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Lower grades may have darker tan/brown colors.

Merbau

Color: Heartwood is yellowish to orange-brown when freshly cut, turning brown or dark red- brown upon exposure.

Grain: Straight to interlocked or wavy; coarse texture.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Moderate to high variation in color.

Purpleheart

Color: Heartwood is brown when freshly cut, turning deep purple to purplish brown over time. Sapwood is a lighter cream color.

Grain: Usually straight; medium to fine texture. Presence of minerals in some boards may cause uneven coloration.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Moderate to high color variation.

Teak – Brazilian

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Color: At first, red-brown or purple-brown with light yellow-brown or purple streaks; after exposure, uniform light brown or yellow-brown.

Grain: Fine texture, interlocked, waxy or oily feel.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Dramatic shading that mellows as the floor matures.

Teak – Thai-Burmese

Color: Heartwood varies from yellow-brown to dark golden brown; turns rich brown under exposure to sunlight. Sapwood is a lighter cream color.

Grain: Straight; coarse, uneven texture.

Variations Within Species And Grades: Moderate to high color variation.

Tigerwood

Tigerwood

Color: Medium to dark red-brown; darkens over time.

Grain: Fine, interlocked.

Walnut – Brazilian- Ipe

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Color: Can vary from light yellowish tan with green overtones to almost blackish brown; exhibits a large range of coloration when freshly milled; darkens over time to medium to dark brown.

Grain: Fine to medium, straight to very irregular.