Choosing Between Domestic vs Exotic Hardwood Floors

Consumers need to consider several factors when shopping for hardwood floors. One of the most important decisions to make is choosing between domestic vs exotic hardwood floors. From color to hardness, durability and price point, the characteristics of each species can be vastly different, creating a distinct look in your living space.

Examine the two categories a little closer to understand the advantages and disadvantages of domestic hardwood floors and exotic hardwood floors.

Pros and Cons of Domestic Wood for Hardwood Flooring

Popular domestic species of hardwood flooring include:

  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Cherry
  • Birch
  • Walnut
  • Hickory

These hardwood floor species provide a traditional, warm appearance with an attractive grain and coloring. Domestic wood is often readily available, and comes at an affordable price point. You can find a wide range of profiles, including wide planks and several colors of stain, all designed to complement North American households. Most domestic hardwood species offer decent levels of durability, coming in with low to mid-range Janka hardness ratings. Depending on the species, domestic wood may swell less and last longer in our climate. Domestic hardwood flooring tends to have less dramatic color variation when compared to exotic species. New designs on domestic species have expanded to a wide range of stains and textured effects. The softer hardwoods make for an excellent hand-scraped or wire-brushed texture.

Pros and Cons of Exotic Wood for Hardwood Flooring

Popular exotic species of hardwood flooring include:

  • Lapacho
  • Cumaru
  • Jatoba
  • Tigerwood
  • Acacia
  • Amendoim

Exotic species of hardwood floors provide an incredible appearance, with dramatic coloring and striking grain patterns. This option provides your home with an upscale, contemporary feeling vastly different than the traditional look of domestic wood floors. Consumers can often source exotic flooring from specialty stores which looks incredible in open concept living and modern homes. Most types of exotic wood have higher Janka hardness scores, making them more durable for heavy traffic areas like a hallway or entrance. Exotic wood tends to dent less, providing a clean, fresh look for more years without any need for refinishing. Exotic wood needs to be imported, often adding duties and fees to the cost of raw materials and increasing the retail price. Some domestics may be more expensive than a reasonably priced exotic hardwood flooring product, but exotics tend to run on the higher side overall. Exotic hardwood flooring may also come in limited lengths and profiles. This may not be a problem in most applications, but for design homes or commercial flooring projects specs may be set for very particular dimensions. Think about your tastes and budget when choosing between domestic vs exotic hardwood floors. The hardness factor makes many exotic species worth the extra investment, but many consumers will be more than happy with the stability and appearance of domestic species such as Oak and Cherry. Get samples and consider your furniture and decor before making this important choice.