Cherry Hardwood Flooring

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.

Check out our other hardwood flooring options including the best reviews and comparisons of the year!

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
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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?
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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!

100 thoughts on “Cherry Hardwood Flooring”

  1. We have lived in our new-construction home with Brazilian Cherry floors for 10 months. We have area rugs in the dining and living rooms. I just noticed that under the rugs they are a lighter color now. What should we do? I am heartsick!

  2. I think I just learned something new! Most floors get lighter as they are exposed to UV light from the sun. From what you are saying I think Brazilian Cherry must darken with UV exposure; my bamboo floors are dark under my throw rugs.
    The only thing you can do, if you want to even the colors is to not use throw/area rugs. With time the color will even out as the covered area is exposed to the UV rays. But if you are always going to have those area rugs in those spots you may not think it’s important that the wood is changing color.

  3. We just installed brazilian cherry hardwood floors. We were told of the darkening that occurs. How long does this process go on? When is it safe to put area rugs down? Thanks!

  4. Since this is a new bit of knowledge for me I have no idea. I’ll research it this week and see what I can find. If you get an answer before I do it would be great for you to post it here. In fact, anything you find would be good to add to this topic.
    Based on my bamboo floor experience, it may be awhile before it’s finished changing color.

  5. Do not use vinegar and water on brazilian cherry!
    Do not use Murphy’s Oil or you will never be able to buff and recoat with poly. If you ever want to get a quick coat of poly, the Murphy’s will interfere with poly adhesion b/c of the wax it has. After you use Murphy’s, your floors will have to be sanded all the way down or poly will not adhere.
    Use Bona, available at Ace Hardware and other flooring stores. My floor man advised me against both vinegar/water and murphy’s.

  6. I’ve heard the same arguments against using Murphy’s Oil Soap on wood floors. But I haven’t heard a good argument against using vinegar water on wood floors. Usually the people who say that are selling a product they want you to buy.
    I don’t have a cherry hardwood floor but the vinegar water works well on my bamboo floor.

  7. We have new brazilian cherry floors in our new home. They finished it with a satin oil based polyurethane. It scratches terribly and I was told by another floor finisher that it should have been sealed with a commercial grade water based finish because we have kids and a dog. Now we are having the original finisher buff and reseal with the water based and I’m wondering if we should use a satin finish again or a semi-gloss, the satin finish we have is so dull looking, but I have been told that the water based semi-gloss can make the wood look too perfect and fake like pergo floors. We just want beautiful new looking floors that dont scratch for our new beautiful house. It’s been disappointing. Also I have cleaned the floors with watered down Murphys oil 2 or 3 times. help!

  8. It’s too bad about the oil-based sealant because of your experience with it’s scratching but also because of the lowered air quality in your new home. Your general dilemma is outside my level of direct experience, but let’s see what we can do through discussion.
    You have bumped into that area of every flooring installer is going to have a different opinion about which finish is better. Their opinions are sometimes guided by what they have used and know about it in a few years of experience, sometimes their opinions come from years of experience with a wide range of products, and sometimes it’s based on what product they are sell through their business.
    I’ve heard flooring experts say that water-based sealers are the worst to use when you have lots of hard traffic (kids and dogs) and others say it’s the best. I personally think it’s the specific product line that makes the difference more than whether it’s water- or oil-based. I do know that oil-based sealers have more VOCs which lower your air quality.
    I’m not sure that buffing the original sealant is going to work, unless you mean he’s going to strip the old finish. You need to be sure that you can apply a water-based sealant to an oil-based sealant and have it be effective.
    I think that the sheen of your floor is a personal preference, that there’s no right or wrong about which you choose. Personally I prefer the satin finish on wood because I like the more natural look of the wood than the shiny look. I don’t know that I’d compare the look to a Pergo floor (mine had a satin finish and looked like natural wood).
    I think you’ll find a semi-gloss finish will show scratches and dings more than a satin finish floor. Keep that in mind as you decide between the two options.
    The sealant I used on my cabinets, doors and window trim is Diamond Coat Urethane Polyurethane and I’m extremely happy with it. It applied easily, dried quickly and is as hard as diamonds. They have a floor formula that I hear great things about — along the same lines of what I have experienced with the cabinet formula. Their water-based products are low VOC and durable. That’s what I recommend you use, if it will go over your existing product.

  9. I have 1 year old brazilian cherry wood floors with I believe factory finish. I did not do my research and used Murphy’s Oil Soap once…I thought I was going to clean them really good. Unfortunately, now they are dull and seem to have a residue on them. Do you have a suggestion on how to return my floors to their orignial shine? Should I buff them? Thanks for your help.

  10. I’m not sure what removes Murphy’s Oil Soap. You might try a stronger vinegar water solution than I usually recommend to see if that will remove the oil. It may take several attempts to cut through all of the oil.
    And maybe somebody else here will be able to give you an answer.

  11. We are in the process of remodeling our home and installed brazilian cherry on our main level. The floors went down first and got two coats of oil based poly (the final coat will go down once we finish everything). The rest of the construction then resumed so we put down card board boxes everywhere to protect the floor. This has been going on for 4 months. As time has passed the boxes have moved and shuffled so little areas of the floor have been revealed. This week I took everything up to do a cleaning before the cabinets are finished. To my surprise there were lines and color variations everywhere. Brazilian cherry does darken when exposed to light, it is the natural oils in the wood that make this happen. This process continues through the life of the floor. If you’ve ever seen brazilian cherry that’s been down for 35 years or more, the floors are very very dark, almost black. The flooring guys had told me to be careful with rugs and move them often. But they said it happens over years, not months. So for those questioning how long it takes, 4 months and I know it happens. In time it will even out and I plan to leave all the floors exposed for the next few weeks to see what happens. I’ll let you know so everyone will have a sense of how long the process takes to correct itself.
    As for sheen, I think it’s a personal preference. Satin is always a nice choice and will show scratches the least. Not that the floors will scratch less, but the scratches are less noticeable on duller finishes. I’ve heard that shinier finishes are stronger, but can’t back this up with evidence. I’ve also heard that oil-based finishes are stronger, but again, I can’t back this up. I do know from experience that shinier finishes show everything, scratches, dust, pet hair, etc. It depends on what you like and how often you want to clean. For us, the shinier the better. We’re going with high gloss on our floors. For what it’s work, no it does not make them look like pergo, it brings out the natural colors and make them look like glass. My personal opinion as also how formal you want your home to feel. Satin to me tends to be more casual and shinier finishes tend to lean toward a more formal feel. We don’t have kids to worry about but do have a 50lbs dog that is going to do some damage. I think it’s a cost benefit thing. We love our dog and he’s not going anywhere. I’ll live with the scratches- it’s part of the floors charm over time (or at least this is what I will tell myself ).
    My sister put these floors in her home when they built 5 years ago and finished with high gloss, oil-based. They are absolutely beautiful and have aged very well. There are a few scratches if you look hard, but for the most part you don’t notice them. They don’t have kids or dogs though, only a cat. She has always cleaned hers with vinegar and water and the finish is still great, no dulling or anything. No experience with Murphy’s oil so I can’t comment on that.
    I hope this helps. Good luck to everyone.

  12. We put down Brazilian cherry floors in our kitchen a year ago. It now looks as though it has a film over it. I clean it every week. I started with just water and a little amonia, then I started using wood floor cleaners like Minwax and Pledge. What am I doing wrong?

  13. Using the wrong products. Ammonia is a harsh chemical you should avoid using in your home. And Minwax and Pledge leave residue. You need to strip those products off your floor — try a borax solution. Then clean with a 1:15 vinegar water solution.

  14. Vinegar/water will leave a cloudy residue on brazilian cherry!!! Trust me, I’ve tried that when I’ve cheaped out. It’s expensive stuff so don’t cheap out and use vinegar/water. I’ve heard that using vinegar/water is acidic and is not good for your floor.
    Check with the manufacturer of your specific floor. For mine (sand on site, brazilian cherry), I was told Bona with the microfiber. And I have to admit that I love it even though it is expensive.
    If you don’t want to use it everytime you need a quick swipe up of a spill, why not use a damp (not wet) microfiber cloth. I bought a few packs of microfiber towels (normally used for car washing) and dampen those ever so slightly to get up stuff if I don’t want to use the Bona at that particular second.
    But call your flooring manufacturer AND the manufacturer of your finish (ex Minwax, Duraseal, Bona…whichever brand your floor man used when he coated them.

  15. We are in the process of building a house. We have puchased brazilian cherry hardwood flooring for the living room and the kitchen. It is an open floor plan. I am debating on putting brazilian cherry hardwood in the kithcen or just using tile. Also if I put the brazilian cherry in the kitchen what color do we stain our “OAK” cabinets. Should I go dark or light? Please help!
    Thanks Sandy Kennedy

  16. Hello Sandi, you have some very interesting questions! I hope you’ve read thru this page and the other pages that deal with cherry hardwood flooring already.
    Remember that cherry floors darken over time, it’s just ‘how it is’, so the stain you choose for your oak cabinets might please you now, but with over time as your floor you may not be quite so happy. I really can’t tell you if a dark stain or a light stain would look better, it really depends on your personal preference and whether you want the cabinet shade to match closer to the floor shade or if you prefer it to contrast in tone more. You can get color brochures put out by different stain manufacturers, they’re available at most any store that sells stains. Look at the stain while they’re alongside your flooring to get a better idea of what YOU like.
    I’d be interested in hearing back from you on what you decide, even if you decide to scrap the whole idea of wood flooring in the kitchen and go with tile.

  17. In my experience as a professional homes and office cleaning person I have found vinegar water works well on floors that are properly sealed. As with any flooring that gets mopped, you need to change your “water” frequently. And when you are finished with your mopping you need to go over the floor again to polish it.
    I have cleaned cherry floors with Bona and with vinegar water and have had equal luck in getting them clean, though I prefer the vinegar water (and it’s cheaper too!). It seems different people have different results, but vinegar water works great for me.
    It doesn’t matter what use to clean a floor, regarding that streaked or hazy look. If I don’t do that follow-up polish with a clean cloth — I’m partial to micro-fiber mop heads — my floors don’t look the way I want them to.
    A 10:1 water:vinegar solution works well to clean my floors. Following that with my polish wipe and the floors look great.

  18. I couldn’t have said it better……. not letting your mop water get too dirty is so important and I agree with you about that final polish and the microfiber mops! Thanks for stopping by to add your words of wisdom! If you come back, it’d be nice if you left a first name or psuedonym so I can more properly address you! ;~)

  19. If you read all of the comments in this thread you’ll see several testimonials to that fact. The time frame depends on the sun’s intensity of where you live and how much sun comes into your home. I’m guessing you’ll notice it pretty quickly though, based on how quickly I noticed the bleaching of both my cork and bamboo floors.


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