Cherry Hardwood Flooring

November 17, 2005

Perhaps the first thing people think about when they hear “cherry tree” is the old parable regarding a young George Washington chopping down his father’s tree. In addition to having lovely blossoms and making a gorgeous landscaping statement, cherry wood is a great material for hardwood flooring because of its rich and distinctive coloring.

Cherry wood’s color varies from a rich red to a reddish brown and its color darkens with age due to oxidation. When used for flooring cherry provides you with a satiny, smooth texture that adds warmth and character to any home. The wood from cherry trees, prunes species, a subset of the rose family, has been used in furniture making since 400 BC.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cherry Wood Flooring

Some of the advantages of using cherry for your home’s flooring are:

  • Produces an excellent and smooth finish
  • Is readily available as an unfinished or prefinished flooring material
  • Is easy both to clean and to maintain

However, as with all wood flooring, cherry flooring has its disadvantages too and these include:

  • Fading
  • Easily scratched by dirt and grit
  • Damaged by excess moisture

How Can You Tell If This Is The Floor For You?

There are five questions you should investigate if you are considering selecting cherry hardwood flooring for your home:

  1. What kind of cherry wood do I want to use for my flooring?
  2. Will cherry hardwood accentuate or distract from the style of my home?
  3. Is cherry going to be a durable enough flooring option for me?
  4. How much can I expect to pay for a cherry hardwood flooring?
  5. From where should I purchase cherry hardwood flooring?
What Kind of Cherry Wood Do I Want to Use For My Flooring?

The answer here is really going to depend on what style you are looking for, the overall look you want to achieve, in what kind of room you plan to install the cherry flooring, and your budget. Cherry trees are grown worldwide, although not all are used for flooring material. Brazilian cherry is by far the most popular cherry hardwood flooring used, but the Asian and Bolivian cherry varieties can also be used. Cherry hardwood planks are easy to machine, glue and nail well and so are easy to install, and result with a smooth finish when sanded. Cherry wood also dries quite quickly after milling, but has a high shrinkage rate unless it has been kiln dried.

Each species of cherry hardwood flooring has a different Janka rating. The Janka hardness rating is the measure of hardness for all wood varieties used for flooring. The American Cherry hardwood has the lowest score of the cherry wood varieties, with a rating of only 950. The Janka rating of other cherry woods is Brazilian cherry – 2820, African cherry – 1010, and Bolivian cherry – 3190. Lumber liquidators has a helpful chart that can be found here that will show you a comparison of the Janka ratings of many different hardwood varieties.

Cherry flooring has been used for many decades in the construction industry. The flowering version of the tree that has been made famous by Washington D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival was introduced to America in 1900 as a gift from Japan. American cherry wood is softer than all of the other cherry woods, so it is not as popularly used for flooring as it is in landscaping. Brazilian or Jatoba cherry is an imported exotic hardwood and is the much more popular flooring choice.

Will Cherry Wood Accentuate or Distract From the Style of My House?

Selecting the right wood, possibly Brazilian or Bolivian hardwood cherry flooring, you will enjoy its unique grain and deep color for years to come. I personally love the look of cherry wood flooring, as it is noticeable, makes a statement, and unique in appearance, but will not draw the focus or overwhelm the other features of a room. It pairs well with almost any décor style and gives off a homey feeling that isn’t lacking in luster.

Cherry hardwood floors have an excellent smooth finish that is durable and adds warmth to any room. Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring has an open-grained appearance similar to that of oak but is twice as hard. An interesting feature of cherry hardwood flooring is the dark brown or black streaks that contrast with its background, ranging from dark orange to reddish brown. It is important to note, however, that Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring darkens after several months, so this should be taken into account when considering using it for flooring. Cherry hardwood flooring is readily available and is one of the most commonly used hardwoods in America.

Is Cherry Going to be a Durable Enough Flooring For Me?

Select your cherry flooring carefully because some cherry woods are significantly softer than others. As with other wood floors, cherry has the advantage of being easy to clean and maintain. When choosing a cherry wood flooring, most lean towards the Brazilian variety that is significantly stronger and has a measure of hardness rating that is significantly higher than many other hardwood flooring varieties, including pine and oak. You will need to seal or wax a cherry wood floor, and as with any type of hardwood flooring, that will need to be re-done occasionally, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring is available in pre-finished or unfinished, and in thicknesses ranging from 3/8″ to 3/4”.

Unlike carpeting, hardwood flooring does not collect dust readily, so a dust mop is ideal for daily cleaning and damp mopping your cherry floor will remove dirt and grime. Wet mopping of wooden floors is not advisable and can lead to warping. Always ensure that you use a damp mop and your cherry hardwood floors will retain their shine, luster, and appeal.

By not taking care of your cherry flooring you will see a loss of shine and luster. When exposed to strong, direct sunlight tends to bleach out, losing its coloring. Filtering the light through a window film or window coverings can help to prevent this. Dirt and grit can act like sandpaper, scratching the finish and eventually the wood. Placing rugs and mats at doorways helps reduce this problem. Spills can damage the finish and even warp the wood, if not wiped up quickly. Because of wood’s natural tendency to absorb moisture, it is often recommended to avoid placing cherry flooring in kitchens, bathrooms, or laundry areas.

Bolivian cherry hardwood flooring can have provide some challenges. When sanding this wood, the dust can cause allergic reactions, such as contact dermatitis and respiratory allergies. Oil finishes do not dry properly, making water-based finishes a better choice.

How Much Can I Expect to Pay for a Cherry Hardwood Flooring?

Cherry wood is comparable in price per square footage to most other hardwoods. You can expect to pay about $2-$5 per square foot when purchasing cherry hardwood flooring planks, and installation costs are typically about the same as with any other hardwood flooring. With installation, you may expect to see costs of around $4-$8 per square foot for cherry hardwood floors. Because it is grown and harvested locally, American cherry wood is significantly less expensive than the more common (and stronger) Brazilian cherry wood, which comes from the jatoba tree native to the jungles of the Amazon.

There are, of course, less expensive options to achieve the look of cherry hardwood floors without paying for the solid hardwood planks. There are laminate flooring options comprised of cherry hardwood layered over a wood composite, or even vinyl or tile options designed to mimic the look of a natural cherry hardwood floor.

From Where Should I Purchase Cherry Hardwood Flooring?

I get asked this question a lot. People are always coming to me looking for reputable providers of certain varieties of hardwoods and my answer does really vary depending on the particular hardwood species you are looking for and whether you are sold on purchasing a solid hardwood flooring or are considering other options, such as a laminate flooring designed to look like a cherry hard wood. When purchasing a Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring, it is important to purchase from someone reputable who uses sustainable practices, as the jatoba tree is one of many that have been over-harvested, contributing to the deforestation of the Amazon. You can check with Forestry Stewardship Council on sustainable practices and do research before purchasing any hardwood flooring. Typically, my advice is that if a price seems too good to be true, it usually is. Do market comparisons and get feedback and reviews before making any kind of major home purchase, including flooring.

When considering flooring options for your home or office, cherry hardwood flooring makes for an interesting and dramatic choice. Not only will cherry hardwoods add warmth and elegance to a room, but will also increase the resale value. Since you can readily buy cherry hardwood floors from any hardwood specialty stores, you won’t have trouble finding a quality, beautiful flooring that fits your tastes. You also won’t have to resort to chopping your own cherry tree, like George Washington!

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