Hickory wood flooring adds character to a house. It makes the house homely, but it also comes with a lot of maintenance. However, there are variants in wood flooring which are definitely worth the high maintenance. Yet, does the beauty of the room outshine the tedious care routine? Let’s see that in today’s post.
Natives of the USA, hickories are deciduous trees. Due to its ideal combination of strength, hardness, stiffness, toughness and being shock resistant, the hickory wood has gained popularity as one of the choices for house flooring.
It has also gained wide usage as tool handles, lacrosse sticks, golf sticks, for smoking and even curing meat (the dense wood makes for a slow and even burn, adding that woody flavor).
It has a grain pattern which makes it rustic and gives the house a distinct class and texture, adding to its overall appeal. Despite the chic look it gives to the house, sadly, only 5% of the population uses this wood for flooring.
Now, as with every hardwood, the ever-dependent hickory too comes with a set of pros and cons which we’ll discuss in this article.
What Is Hickory Wood Flooring?
Hickory is a wood that comes from four of the 19 Hickory Tree species that exist. This tree is found in North America and can grow between 60 and 100 feet tall but is extremely slow growing.
It can take up to 200 years to mature. Due to these reasons, only 2% of the commercially available wood in the US is Hickory wood.
Hickory is characterized as an extremely tough wood; it is both heavy and strong but somehow very bendable, which is why it is used for many different purposes.
However, Hickory is a very difficult wood to work with. It is very dry, meaning that it has tendencies to split when it is being worked upon. Also, the wood is so strong that it blunts metal tools that are used to work on it.
Hickory wood is unique in its coloring. The outer sapwood is a creamy color, which can have slight pinkish tones running through it.
The heartwood, which is from the inner part of the tree closer to the core, is a dark reddish-brown. The graining of Hickory is unique, distinct yet more subtle than other wood like oak.
Hickory wood flooring comes in two options, either solid hickory flooring or then engineered hickory flooring. Solid hickory flooring is usually 3” to 5” wide with a ¾” thickness. This sort of flooring option comes in three finishes: standard smooth, wire brushed or scraped.
Engineered hickory flooring is a composite of a thin layer of real hickory wood glued to a base made of plywood. The planks are often 5” wide but can go up to 8” wide as well. The thickness of these planks is either 3/8” or ½”. This kind of flooring can come in many different finishes.
Hickory Wood Flooring Advantages
- These woods are efficient at retaining the look for years. Aesthetically, they look very pleasing due to a wide range of shades, from utter dark ones to really light colors. It is usually also advised to choose thicker planks to avoid the floor from looking too clustered as hickory wood grains are dense.
- Goes extremely with wooden furniture. Plus, with the proper lighting, it can really make an otherwise dull room look absolutely stunning!
- Hickory wood flooring can be used as a rustic décor or as something formal. Hickory woods are extremely versatile when it comes to styling.
- They are durable and resilient, thus becoming an ideal option for a busy household. This wood is also kid and pet-friendly. You can enjoy the “clickety-clackety” of your furry babies without worrying about damaging the floor!
- It is not a very tough task to keep this flooring clean (once you install it properly). Maintenance is pretty basic, hence it makes for a great choice for people who have a busy schedule.
- Like any hardwood, refinishing is essential and solid hickory should be refinished every 5 years, as for the engineered ones, they should be refurbished at least once in their lifetime if you choose the thickest wear.
- As these woods are not widespread, they can be a little expensive when compared to Oak. Yet, it is worth buying at $4 – $5 per sq.ft. for the amazing features, they possess.
- Being grown in abundance, hickory wood is an eco-friendly option for flooring and are sustainable. One should check for the FSC certification when buying hickory woods to ensure that they are sourced from a farmed plantation.
Hickory Wood Flooring Disadvantages
- Natural or lightly stained hickory woods are either dark like the heartwood or light like the sapwood, and this might not sit well with everyone but as it takes the stains readily, this problem can be solved.
- Secondly, this flooring is harder to maintain when you compare it with concrete flooring.
- It is difficult for a layman to fix it as it is a very hard wood, which comes with a Janka rating of 1820. Cutting and sanding would be an issue unless you get a team to help with the installation.
- Hickory is not resistant to water and mold, even though engineered ones minimize the risk of rotting, it is best to not invest in hickory if you are very much concerned with damp.
- Being a very dense wood, staining is tricky. It needs water popping repeatedly; you do not have the option of DIY hence you need professionals or buy wood that is pre-stained and prefinished.
- If you rush the installation process without allowing the wood to acclimatize to its environment, then the wood is prone to warping.
- Hickory flooring can be an expensive option, especially if you choose the pre-stained and prefinished wood although hickory is the native of this country. Also, one needs to involve a professional for the installation, which adds to the cost.
Even though there are disadvantages to hickory flooring, they are not impossible to overcome. Getting pre-stained and wide boards solves the issue of the floor looking too dense and can blend into the décor of the room.
Letting the wood to adjust to the surroundings will prevent warping. You can also let your bold side reflect through naturally occurring, unstained wood planks as they add a tinge of warm aura to the room. Keeping the wood as dry as possible and choosing engineered over solid wood can make hickory work even in humid climates.
Cost Of Hickory Wood Flooring – Is Hickory Wood Expensive?
Hickory wood itself isn’t the most expensive flooring option out there, but because it is such a heavy wood that is difficult to work with, the labor and installation cost can make it quite expensive.
When looking at top brands for Hickory like Armstrong, Home Legend or Walking Horse, the prices can vary from $3 to $9 per sq ft for unfinished natural solid hickory.
Engineered hickory flooring can cost you $2 to $7 per sq ft from the same recognizable brands.
Hickory is hard to work with so it is not ideal for DIY flooring. You need to hire professionals who have specialized tools to install this kind of flooring for you.
The prices of installation may vary, depending on what kind of flooring you are going for and whether the wood is finished or unfinished. Most likely, you are going to spend between $2 and $3 per sq ft for installation.
Is Hickory Good For Flooring?
Hickory has a lot of options when it comes to stains and colors. This is because it is a dry wood, which means it is very good at retaining stains. Hickory is also very versatile as a flooring option; you can get a rustic look or a formal look from this kind of wood.
Hickory as flooring is a great option for people looking for durability. It is a very hard wood to dent and scratch.
Hickory floors work especially well for pet and family households. If the floor is given a distressed finish in a lighter polish, preferably sapwood, it could last for ages without needing a touch up.
Hickory floors are also very easy to clean once they have been sealed. They just require regular sweeping, and occasionally mopping to stay spotless.
It all comes down to personal choices and knowledge about the climate you are living in. Whether you want to stick to the tried and tested oak varieties or make a statement with the hickory, having hardwood flooring has a character appeal and getting the wood from a certified seller lessens your worry.
What Are Some Problems With Hickory Hardwood Flooring?
The biggest disadvantage of hickory wood flooring is how difficult it is to work with. The wood is so hard and dry that it can be difficult to install. This means that it cannot be DIYed; it needs specialized tools and professional knowledge to be installed properly.
Hickory wood has a tendency to warp because it shrinks a lot more than other wood. If this is not accounted for at the time of installation, the wood can twist or warp, messing up your flooring.
Solid hickory flooring is also not water-resistant or mold-resistant. It has a tendency to take on mold in damper or high-moisture areas.
Lastly, the installation of hickory wood flooring can be quite expensive! As we discussed above, it requires specialized installation with expertise, otherwise it can warp.
How Hard Is Hickory On The Janka Scale?
The Janka scale is used to determine the hardness of a type of wood. The higher on the scale a wood is, the harder it is. Hickory has a rating of 1820. Hickory is one of the harder woods, but there are many other wood varieties that are harder.
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William Scott says
Hickory has a mild grain, which more visible than Maple, but not as intense as Oak.