I love to talk about Hickory hardwood flooring and it’s definitely a favorite topic in the company meetings. Maybe because customers that buy Hickory floors tend to be the most satisfied customers that we have? Possibly. Or is it because at ReallyCheapFloors, we are one of the largest liquidators of Hickory in the country? Another good possibility! First, let’s talk look at Hickory in more technical fashion then dive into what is really important about the product.
Types of Hickory Hardwood
Let’s talk Hickory. Hickory, or Carya genus, is made up of 2 different groups: True Hickory, and Pecan Hickory. These two main groups have eight trees shared evenly between them. There are 4 trees producing lumber for each specific Hickory group. There are multiple names used for the same eight species as described.
True Hickory Hardwood
Pecan Hickory Hardwood
- Water Hickory
- Nutmeg Hickory
Separating these different types of lumber is impossible because they share the same color. Separation could be possible if a chemical or microscopic test is used on-site of a mill yard. In the wood flooring business, both are used, as the appearance and characteristics are similar.
For conversation’s sake, we will leave them together. That will also keep me from getting over my head.
Why is Hickory Hardwood Special?
What is special about Hickory? Actually, there are 2 attributes of Hickory that consumers love: hardness, and look.
The hardness factor of Hickory wood is loved due to its lack of denting when used to make hardwood flooring. What if we could get a car that wouldn’t dent? Or a shirt that wouldn’t stain? While those analogies might be a little far-fetched, having a floor in your homemade from one of the hardest species grown in the United States certainly has some advantages, not the least of which would be a floor that shows less abuse than any other species.
Hickory’s Proud Janka Score
The best way to compare the hardness of different species of wood is the Janka scale. Mr. Janka’s scale allows us to compare densities based on how many foot lbs of pressure it requires to drive a .444 in steel ball half of its diameter into a piece of wood. While you probably will not do this to your floor, it is a great way to compare floors, and this is where Hickory shines. At 1820 lb/f, Hickory is one of the hardest woods grown in the United States. Compare that to the 1350 of White Oak, 1290 of Red Oak, and 1010 of Black Walnut, and you will see how hard it really is.
That density, with its ensuing hardness, is why you see Hickory commonly used in tool handles, ladder rungs, even wooden wheel spokes. You may remember that our 7th president, Andrew Jackson, was given the nickname of “Old Hickory” by his soldiers during the War of 1812. They gave him that name because he was tough!
Hickory’s Distinct Look
The biggest reason our customers love Hickory is because of how it looks. Hickory flooring offers a look that is not available in any other wood, as the contrast between the heartwood and sapwood (inner and outer parts of the tree) is quite high. In Oak and Maple flooring we sometimes get contrasting colors, but only in the lower grades. This means that if you want colorful or rustic looking floors in those species you have to accept some natural defects such as wormholes or shorter average board length. Not in Hickory! Because in the majority of the grades the contrast is commonplace, we get a product with longboards and lots of colors. In the picture below you see an open box of Cabin Hickory hardwood flooring.
Cabin Grade Hickory
With Cabin grade the contrast will be very pronounced and may include some gray coloration. Our cabin grade Winchester Hickory natural hardwood is shown above. While the gray coloration is technically considered a defect, it does contribute to the overall look of the floor. Notice the shorter board length. This is somewhat common in all Cabin grade floors, but a little more so with Hickory. While you will see knots in our Cabin, you will see very little, if any, open knot. We have asked the manufacturer to throw the open knots out. Sometimes one slips through, but your 5% waste will cover any misses.
In the next pic, you see our Country Collection floors. This collection is made using carefully graded #2 Common lumber.
Country Collection Hickory
That allows us to offer a rustic floor with longer boards and no defects. Here you will still see vast color differences, but no black or gray boards like we may see in the Cabin grade. Why are we making a first quality floor with #2 Common lumber? First of all, please understand grading and quality are not related. If you haven’t read my blog about hardwood grading, now is a good time! Grading refers more to the aesthetics of the board, while quality refers to possible defects, and to a finished product. Because the allure of Hickory is the coloration, our Country Collection is our most popular collection.
This collection can include some knots and other natural character markings. Stains available in our Country series are:
- Hickory Natural
- Hickory Ember
- Hickory Saddle
1st Quality Appalachian Hickory
Next is our Appalachian Collection of Hickory. Here you will see even less contrast, with a mix of softer hues (I read that somewhere. Sounded pretty.) This collection will have the longest average board length, as it contains a mix of #1 Common and Select lumber. Colors available:
- Hickory Natural
- Hickory Moonlight
- Hickory Spice
- Hickory Nutmeg
All of these floors are offered in both solid and engineered flooring. Solids are available in 3 ¼”, 4”, and 5” widths, while our engineered inventory is offered in 3 ¼”, 5” and sometimes a 6” width. All of these engineered collections are ½” thick, and feature a core made with 7 plies of hardwood lumber. Believe me when I say we offer the highest quality of engineered Hickory that you can buy.
Installing a Hickory Floor
Let’s talk for just a minute about installing a solid Hickory hardwood floor. Remember the part about Hickory being hard? There can be a downside to that. Because of the high density of Hickory, it is more likely to expand due to moisture changes in your home. We strongly recommend that you have moisture testing one on your home prior to the installation of a Hickory floor. Moisture levels should not exceed 12% for narrow widths and no more than 10% for 5” wide planks. Also make certain that the moisture levels of your flooring are within 5% of your subfloor on strip, 3% on planks. For homes that have seasonal moisture problems, or do not have air conditioning installed, consider using our engineered Hickory planks. We don’t want to hear you whining about your new floor cupping right after you install it.
Solid Hickory Hardwood Can Cup Due to a Careless Install
Cupping is not a manufacturing defect, it is a result of your floor being in an environment for which it was not intended. Don’t be this guy! Ask your installer to check the moisture of your floor before your flooring arrives. If your installer does not have a moisture meter, you might want to consider changing installers!
Hickory Hardwood Flooring Samples
A word about samples…..we will be more than happy to send you a sample of any of our Hickory floors, but please do not expect a board or 2 to represent what a floor will look like. We compare that to grabbing a piece of carrot from a salad and thinking the whole salad will taste like that. Samples show construction. Our pictures show you what an actual floor will look like. Or you can order a single box, but that might be an expensive way to get a sample!
Our Hickory Hardwood is Made in the USA
All of our Hickory floorings are made here in the United States, using locally sourced hardwood lumber. Would you like to know more about how our hardwood flooring is made? Read about our favorite manufacturer in our previous blog titled Somerset Hardwood Flooring.
The Best Hickory Hardwood Flooring Prices
And now a word from our sponsor….I hate to crow too loudly, but I have to be honest…..we at ReallyCheapFloors.com sell engineered and solid Hickory floors cheaper than any other outlet in the United States. We have some floors made exclusively for us, while other floors we liquidate for a manufacturer. Sometimes a manufacturer calls us with Overstock opportunities that we sell directly from their mills. Regardless, whether you are looking for a first quality Select Hickory floor, or a Cabin grade to install in your personal cabin, pick up the phone and call us.
We aren’t talking about saving you $100. Savings on an average house can be well into the thousands of dollars. Granted, we cannot offer the service and installation of your local flooring dealer, but for the customer that does not require that service, we are an excellent choice. Shop all of our flooring products on our products page.