Dark Hardwood Flooring: 2023 Buying Guide

Dark Hardwood Floors

When it comes to Hardwood, Dark Hardwood Floors have always been a great choice for your home and the different styles of dark wood have been modernized to meet the time period therefore they remain a popular option for many homeowners. The dark wood floors’ elegant look is perfectly contrasted by both light and dark furniture, especially finely painted white skirting boards.

In this article, I will present an up to date Ultimate Guide to Dark Hardwood Floors for 2021.

Visualise different Dark Hardwood Floors

The first thing you should do when choosing Dark Hardwood Floors is to visualize different styles of hardwood in your room. The easiest way to visualize your different floors is by using Floor Visualizing Smartphone Apps. These apps work by allowing you to take pictures of your room and changing the floor with a touch of your finger.

After trying out different Floor Visualization apps HARO seems to be the best. Although it only allows you to implement HARO products in your room they do offer a wide range of colors and styles. Download it via Google Play using our link below.

Floor Visualisation Apps:

Key Points to Consider when choosing Dark Hardwood:

  • Solid or Engineered?
  • Wood Species?
  • Gloss Level?

Solid or Engineered?

The big question you have to consider when buying Dark Hardwood floors is Engineered or Solid?. The key difference between the two is that Solid Hardwood is 100% solid hardwood as the name suggests while Engineered Hardwood usually consists of a thin layer of solid hardwood backed by a bottom layer of cheaper wood (usually plywood), therefore also cheaper to manufacture. Firstly, let’s discuss the key points of both starting from Solid Hardwood.

Solid Hardwood

Solid Hardwood typically comes in long thin planks that are around ¾ of an inch thick, as a result, you can refinish/sand the floor up to 3-4 times during its lifespan. Also, the Lifespan itself is anywhere from 30 to 100 years. Pricewise Solid Hardwood Floors range from $7-18 per foot squared making it slightly more expensive compared to Engineered Hardwood. Furthermore, the main installation method for Solid Hardwood is nailing down and it can be quite tricky to do it yourself. Solid Hardwood is not recommended for Kitchens and Bathrooms because of its low moisture resistance.

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered Hardwood on the other hand comes in wide medium to long planks that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Because Engineered Hardwood is thinner than Solid Hardwood you can only sand it once (sometimes twice depending on the product). Also, the Lifespan of Engineered Hardwood is around 20 to 40 years if taken care of properly.

Engineered Hardwood is usually cheaper than Solid Hardwood, prices range from as low as $3 to $15 per foot squared. Now, one of the biggest advantages of using engineered flooring is the easy-to-DIY installation method, the floating method can be achieved with little previous experience potentially saving you a lot of money. Again, just like Solid Hardwood, Engineered Hardwood is not recommended for Bathrooms because of its low moisture resistance, use Vinyl or Tile instead.

Our Choice Engineered

If it was up to the team at HomeFloorExpert to decide between the two, the verdict would probably be Engineered Hardwood, this is mainly because of how much money you can save on floor installation if you do it yourself, and the swiftness of installation using the floating method. However, please remember that Solid Hardwood can be sanded and refinished up to 3-4 times, therefore it can sometimes be a better option for the long run.

Side by Side Comparison

Solid HardwoodEngineered Hardwood
Cost$6 to $20 per foot squared$3 to $15 per foot squared
Lifetime30 – 100 years10 – 40 years
Moisture ResistanceCan be Sensitive to MoistureCan be Sensitive to Moisture but copes slightly better than Solid
Refinish/ SandingUp-to 3-4 timesMostly Once
InstallationNail or Glue DownFloating, Nail Down, Glue
Can you DIY?Not RecommendedYes, Floating Method
Plank ThicknessAbout 3/4 inch or 1.9 cm1/4 to 1/2 and inch or 0.9 to 1.4 cm
Materials Used100% Wood, Solid100% Wood, Composite (Mixed with Cheaper Wood)
StabilityCan warp (bend) when exposed to moisture and high temperaturesGenerally good but can warp (bend) when dealing with very high moisture
Floating Floor
Floating Floor Method

Wood Species

The type of wood species you choose for your dark hardwood floors depends on your personal preference, the most popular species are red oak & white oak, you can also choose Hickory, Walnut, Birch, Mahogany, Maple, Bamboo, and many others. Most hardwood planks already come stained therefore sometimes the natural color is somehow irrelevant unless you are buying unstained wood to stain yourself after. Let’s take a look at the key features of some of these wood species.

Dark Wood Species

Red Oak

Red Oak – Janka Hardness Rating 1290

Red Oak is the most popular wood species used for hardwood flooring in the US, known for its light natural color with red/pinkish undertones. Red Oak has medium to heavy graining and is considered to be the go-to species by many flooring pros.


Walnut – Janka Hardness Rating 1010

This species is also known as American Walnut, it has a rich natural dark color reminiscent of chocolate with fine straight graining making it a great option for dark wood floors without the need of any staining. It has a slightly low Janka rating of 1010, alternatively, you can use Brazilian Walnut (Janka Rating 3680) which is very similar in appearance.


Mahogany – Janka Hardness Rating 800

With a dark natural wood color and almost black fine graining Mahogany is an elegant sophisticated choice for your dark hardwood floors. Its Janka rating is 800 meaning it’s less forgiving than its competitors however it no softie. Overall a great choice for Solid Hardwood.

Light Wood Species

White Oak

White Oak – Janka Hardness Rating 1360

White Oak, is very similar to red oak, the only differences are that white oak is slightly harder than red oak and visually has golden brownish natural undertones. Over the years White Oak has been used for many industrial building projects, even boat building. This makes it a good choice for dark wood floors due to its good moisture resistance however not recommended for Bathrooms.


Birch – Janka Hardness Rating 1260

Birch consists of two different species; Yellow Birch and Red Birch. The difference being the different color hints just like the names suggest. Birch contains very little graining therefore it is not a choice for everyone but some adore it. Overall Birch is almost as strong as Oak and is a good choice for Solid Hardwood.


Maple – Janka Hardness Rating 1450

Sourced from North America and Canada, Maple stands strong on the Janka scale making it a durable option. Maple is usually pale and creamy in appearance and sometimes has brown mineral streaks. However, bear in mind that due to its cell structure dark staining is not advised and we don’t recommend using this wood species for dark hardwood floors.


Bamboo – Janka Hardness Rating Varies

Bamboo is known for its strength and durability, in Asia Bamboo is often used for scaffolding which some people find hard to believe. Generally, the hardness of Bamboo depends on the maturity of the crop, therefore picking a brand known for durability is very important here. Some brands offer weaker Bamboo than other brands out there.

Dark Hardwood Floors in Living Area
Dark Hardwood in Living Area

Gloss Level

When choosing your Dark Hardwood Floors gloss level is very important and determines the final look of your floor. Sometimes people choose an excellent floor on the internet only to find out that the floor is extremely shiny when opened, always make sure to find gloss level information before buying and make sure that it meets your gloss level choice.

To understand gloss level think about it the same way you do about woodwork paint. There are 4 main types of gloss levels used for flooring; Matte, Satin, Semi-Gloss, Gloss.

These are determined by the Luster Level. The Luster Level measures the amount of light being reflected off the floor, basically the shine level.

  • Matte – About 25% Luster – Least Shine
  • Satin – About 40% Luster
  • Semi-Gloss – About 55% Luster
  • Gloss – About 70% Luster – Most Shine

Our Choice – Satin

Satin seems to be the favorite Gloss-Level among flooring fitters and decorators in 2021. It creates just enough shine to add an effect to your floor without exposing footprints, marks, and dirt. In addition, It’s easy to clean and modern looking at the same time.

Gloss has the most amount of shine, it has to be cleaned often and is often used in places like car showrooms and hotel lounges. Its generally not recommended in homes (especially for dark wood floors) as it exposes every small mark and dirt speckle, however saying that it can work for different types of floors such as epoxy resin or large tiles.

Matte has very little sheen about 25% in fact, good for keeping clean, number 1 choice for some but labeled as boring for others.

Semi-Gloss is somewhere in between Satin and Gloss, does look good on some styles of floors, and can be a good option however, not the easiest to keep clean but not as sensitive to dirt as Gloss.

High Gloss Floor
High Gloss Floor

How to Care for Dark Hardwood Floors

1. Wear Socks and take Your Shoes Off

Firstly, one of the most important aspects of protecting your floor is simply not damaging it, your shoes can significantly damage your floor. If you’ve been outside, you could have all sorts of dirt on your shoes which may be hard to clean with a mop, therefore please don’t treat your floor like a dance-floor. In addition, if you don’t already have a doormat invest in one and always rub your shoes on it when you walk in. Although bare feet don’t really damage your floor they leave footmarks so it’s always better to wear socks.

2. Use the Right Vaccum

Again, as mentioned in the previous point we made not damaging your floor plays a big role therefore use the right vacuum. Indeed, lots of people don’t know this but you should have a special vacuum or vacuum attachment for hardwood flooring. Using the wrong vacuum can significantly damage your dark hardwood floors, it can leave nasty scratches that cannot be removed. There are some great vacuums for hardwood to be found online, please find our vacuum picks below.

3 Good Vacuums for Dark Hardwood Floors:

3. Use the Right Mop

Using the right mop really makes a big difference when cleaning your dark wood floors, the task can take quite long especially if you have multiple rooms with hardwood. It is important to have a consistent cleaning schedule after installing dark hardwood, the right mop makes the task fast and simple. You can find our best hardwood mop picks below.

3 Good Mops for Dark Hardwood Floors:

4. Refinish every 3-6 years

Once your Dark Wood Floors start showing signs ageing and damage you can refinish your floors making them look like brand new again.

There are two different ways you can refinish a floor, one of them is buffing the floor then applying polyurethane, the other way is sanding the floor and applying polyurethane.

Buffing Dark Hardwood Floors

Buffing just like the name suggests consists of using a buffing machine also known as a buffer, a buffer only removes the existing polyurethane from the floor without actually removing any of the wood. After the buffing process, the floor is vacuum cleaned and new polyurethane is applied to create a brand new looking floor again.

Sanding Dark Hardwood Floors

On the other hand, Sanding Dark Hardwood Floors is slightly different than buffing, in order to sand the floor you need a belt sander. Sanding is different because in this process you are not only removing the polyurethane but also a thin layer of wood from the floor, this is recommended if the damage is deeper and actually affects the wood. After Sanding, the floor is vacuumed and new polyurethane is applied to create a great looking floor again.

Can you Do it Yourself?

Yes, the good news is you can refinish floors yourself however one method is much easier for a regular person than the other. Buffing is not recommended because the buffing machine can be very hard to control however Sanding is much easier because a belt sander is quite easy to use and even a beginner can complete the task.

5. Add Protective Layers

Most floors only receive 2 layers of polyurethane, adding an extra layer can add some extra life to your Dark Wood Floors. If you believe that there is a lot of moisture in the rooms where you would like Dark Hardwood Floors installed you can use a product called Bona Moisture Barrier. This moisture barrier is applied to the sub-floor which is beneath your hardwood floor and it stops moisture from coming through to your Hardwood Floor.

6. Add Furniture Pads & Rugs

Furniture is one of the biggest causes of scuffs and marks in Hardwood Floors, you can add self-adhesive pads to the legs of your furniture which removes the probability of scratches and scuffs, you can find these in most DIY and home decor stores. Another way of protecting your floors is to add rugs in areas which you use very often such as house entrances & underneath your coffee table in the living area.

Dark Hardwood Floors Image Examples

Living Areas with Dark Hardwood Floors

Dark Hardwood Floor in Living Area
Dark Hardwood Floor in Living Area
Dark Hardwood Living Area 1
Dark Hardwood Floor in Living Area

Kitchens with Dark Hardwood Floors

Dark Hardwood Floor in Kitchen
Dark Hardwood Floor in Kitchen
Dark Hardwood in Kitchen
Dark Hardwood Floor in Kitchen

Bedrooms with Dark Hardwood Floors

Dark Hardwood Floor in Bedroom
Dark Hardwood Floor in Bedroom
Dark Hardwood Bedroom
Dark Hardwood Floor in Bedroom


Dark Hardwood Floors have become increasingly popular create a really elegant and natural look. They can really add value and character to your home. Follow our guide to make sure you choose the perfect Dark Hardwood Floor for you.

What do you think of Dark Hardwood Floors? You can use the comment section to express your views below.

3 Replies to “Dark Hardwood Flooring: 2023 Buying Guide

  1. I just mixed into a condo with vinyl plank floors and not sure how to wash them. I was told to use Bona floor cleaner, and do not need to rinse after washing. This does not make any sense to me. Any suggestions?

  2. Thanks for pointing out that the first thing we need to do is to visualize the different styles that we want for our room. I will follow your advice and also hire hardwood floor services that I can trust to give me the right advice. I just want to achieve the rustic and classic appearance in our living room that is why I wanted to replace the original flooring with a dark hardwood material.

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