softwood and hardwood flooring types PrincetonMaybe you’ve seen hardwood flooring in homes and commercial spaces all over the greater Hillsborough, Flemington, Princeton area, or maybe you’ve just heard about all of the incredible benefits of using such a durable material. Either way, there’s a lot to know about wood flooring before you make the final decision to remodel. At Floor Coverings International® of Hillsborough, we want you to feel like you’re making the best, most informed choice when it comes to the floors in your home. That’s why our experts have put together this simple reference guide for understanding the difference between hardwood and softwood flooring.

hardwood cross-section Princeton

A Quick Note About Wood Hardness

In order to understand the difference between hardwood and softwood, you need to know a little about the Janka Hardness Scale. The Janka Hardness Scale tests the density of wood by measuring how much force it takes to embed half of a small steel ball into a standardized wood sample. The resulting number, measured in pounds of force, is the Janka rating – a shorthand for comparing the hardness of one type of wood with any other type.

So What’s The Difference?

While it’s generally true that hardwoods are harder than softwoods, that’s not always the case. Some hardwoods are softer than softwoods and vice versa.

Confusing, right? If all of this is starting to sound like a terrible tongue twister, let’s use a simple example to illustrate the dilemma: balsa, which is a hardwood, is one of the softest woods in the world, having a Janka rating of only 70 lbf. On the other hand, yew, which is a type of softwood, has a Janka rating of 1600 lbf.

Believe it or not, the true difference has nothing to do with “hard” or “soft.” Hardwoods and softwoods get their classification because of the type of seeds they create. Hardwoods are angiosperms, meaning that they drop seeds with a protective shell (like pecans and walnuts). Softwoods are gymnosperms, which means that they drop uncovered (“naked”) seeds.pine hardwood plank softwood floors Princeton

Which One Is Right For Me?

That all depends on what’s most important to you! No matter what your design goals and budget are, Floor Coverings International® of Hillsborough will help find the perfect material for the floors in your Princeton home. Since the easiest way to choose a type of wood is to see your options in person, we recommend scheduling a free, in-home consultation with our mobile showroom. Contact us to get started today!

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Photo Credit: © eranicle, © Efetova Anna and © Slavoljub Pantelic