Hickory Flooring Design Ideas: Considerations For a Durable Hardwood Material

October 10, 2019

Hardwood floors are one of the most popular flooring options to use in the home. Wood floors have been around for centuries and are known for being incredibly long lasting and durable, as well as beautiful. 

There are many different types of wood flooring to choose from, and come in many different wood species . Each has its own coloration, grain pattern, hardness factor, and character to consider, which may make one a better fit for your home design than another. When you’re looking for a wood floor that’s highly durable and that has a lot of movement, color, and dramatic grain, consider hickory as your hardwood flooring of choice.

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Benefits of Hickory Wood Floors

Hickory has become a trending choice for hardwood flooring. Homeowners, designers and architects have been specifying the use of hickory for a wide variety of reasons. To better understand if hickory wood floors are the right flooring option for your remodel project, let’s take a deeper look at the one-of-a-kind properties and benefits of the natural wood itself.


All hardwood floors have some degree of variation. The sapwood may be a different color or hue than the heartwood, and the grain of the wood may vary as well. Hickory is no different in this regard; the sapwood is very light wood and pale colored while the heartwood is a very dark, reddish brown. 

The grain can range from straight to wavy, and many hickory wood floors, unless being made of primarily sapwood, tend to have a lot of character and color variation, moving dramatically from one color to the next, sometimes in one wide plank

The grain pattern found in hickory hardwood flooring planks combines a wide range of brown, red and tan color tones with lots of natural character. This wide range of colors combined with mineral streaks and knots makes hickory a sophisticated, natural wood that has a slightly antique appearance that lends itself to an authentic wood look.

Hickory can be found in many different plank sizes, as well as in some more consistent tones, such as flooring made mostly from sapwood. It can be given a high polish or it can have a rustic appearance. Reclaimed hickory wood flooring is also available, which shows some of the original saw marks and nail holes from the wood’s first use.


All hardwoods are ranked according to their hardness factor on something called the Janka scale. This is a measurement of durability taken when a steel ball is dropped onto the wood. The distance is measured for how far the ball must travel in order to embed itself midway through the wood. The higher a wood’s Janka score, the harder and more durable the wood. 

Hickory scores higher than any other domestic hardwood with a Janka score of 1820 – that’s higher than white oak, maple, pine, or other wood species found in the United States and used for wood plank flooring. To get a higher Janka score for your wood floor, you would have to choose an exotic hardwood.

Wood planks made from hickory are some of the toughest and most durable plank floors available. While there are lots of wood species that are available and work well as hardwood flooring, hickory is by far the hardest and most durable of all domestic woods. Commonly used to make baseball bats and golf clubs, it’s a wood with incredible strength, density and resistance to wear and tear, making it one tough floor that won’t scratch or dent easily.

Hickory is less likely to dent or scratch if something is dropped on it. It will be less likely to be affected by things like high heeled shoes or a dog’s claws, regardless of what kind of style or finish the natural wood has been given. This makes hickory a very long-wearing wood that is excellent for floors in high traffic areas, like foyers, entryways and living rooms. These high traffic areas don’t phase the durable hardwood, and the more open spaces and areas give the wood a chance to shine and become the focal point of the whole design.


It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the higher the Janka score, the harder the natural wood becomes to cut and work with. Woods that are a little lower, like maple, are easier to cut and install. On the other hand, more exotic hardwoods such as golden teak are much more difficult to cut and work with than hickory. Hickory is one of the longest wearing domestic hardwoods, but not quite as hard to install as some of the more long- wearing exotic woods.

Maintenance & Care

Easy to maintain, hickory is very durable and will not show wear and tear like many other wood species will. Lightly damp mopping weekly or as needed combined with dust mopping or vacuuming to keep dust and debris off of the floor is really all that is needed to keep a hickory floor in good shape and make sure it lasts for many generations. Sanding and refinishing is not needed as frequently as with other species of wood simply because the wood is so dense and resistant to wear.

Hickory Flooring Design Ideas

Rustic, traditional or modern interior design spaces are all candidates for a hickory floor. With enough color variation and character to feel natural and clean, hickory is a great wood to finish clear. Options for adding color range from browns to golds and even whites, and can be used to accentuate the character of the natural wood while making the color more consistent and even. Adding a white treatment will make the floor more consistent and pale, perfect for modern home decor settings.

With the sometimes extreme variation in color within hickory, you’ll want to ensure that it’s one of the most dramatic or busy floor designs in the room. Choose one of the wood tones within the floor to pick up with furniture or cabinetry; this will help unify the room and keep the hickory from overwhelming the interior design. Because hickory contains both warm and cool tones, you’ll have no shortage of colors that you can easily use in the home decor of the room.

Most of the hickory flooring commercially available is made using narrow planks and lengths from as short as 8″ to the longest planks being over 4 feet long at best, creating a busy floor that looks unnatural. Using wide plank flooring and long lengths adds to the character of the wood floors and shows the natural grain pattern well, also reducing the number of visible seams in the floor design. The use of long lengths and wide plank flooring also has the benefit of making rooms feel larger and less cluttered, creating a better overall look and feel.

Rustic Hickory

Traditional Hickory Flooring

Traditional Hickory

Traditional hickory flooring is a classic choice indeed, combining all of the color and character found in this majestic wood species. Traditional hickory is new cut and comes in a range of plank widths. The color still varies a lot and the grain and knot holes are still visible, but the overall wood floor has a smoother finish and appearance to it. Hickory makes a better choice for modern homes, industrial spaces, and transitional homes that want some character in the flooring.


Rustic Hickory Flooring

With the same color tones and grain pattern character as traditional hickory, rustic hickory takes things one step further adding original milling marks to create a surface texture. Rustic hickory has an incredible amount of character. Reclaimed hickory often has the original saw marks and nail holes still showing. It also has a great deal of variation, including knot holes and some patina from where the wood has aged. With hickory’s long-wearing capabilities, a reclaimed wood floor can still last you another hundred years. This type of flooring would make an excellent statement in a cottage or rustic style home.

Consider Hickory Flooring For Your Home

Hickory flooring is a beautiful, high-quality wood that would be a long-lasting choice in a wide variety of interior design spaces and will last for generations. With many color and texture options available as well as the possibility to create a custom bespoke hickory floor to your exact floor design specifications, the possibilities are almost endless. If you’re looking for a domestic hardwood floor that will become the focus of any room, consider hickory for your next home improvement project. For more inspiration and design ideas, contact an expert at Elmwood Reclaimed Timber. We’re happy to help you find the right hickory flooring for your home!

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