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Wood Floor & Stair Refinishing

Give your home a refreshed look and feel with a refinish.

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New Wood Floor Installation

Hardwood flooring creates a warm, welcoming environment for your home.

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Hardwood Floor Recoating

Some floors just need a recoating to revitalize their beauty.

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Hardwood Floor Repairs

We can make the new flooring blend in and leave a flawless, uniform finish.

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Wood Floor & Stair Refinishing
New Wood Floor Installation
Hardwood Floor Recoating
Hardwood Floor Repairs

So you’ve been spending a lot of time browsing the hottest hardwood flooring trends of 2019 on the internet and posting your favorite hardwood inspirations on Pinterest. And now you’re ready to team up with a hardwood flooring expert to bring your Pinterest feed to life and make those beautiful floors a reality. 


But now comes the part that many people seem to dread… 

Picking the perfect shop to entrust with your precious hardwood flooring project. 

How do you know who to trust and if they are the right shop for the job? This can be a tricky task to navigate. And to be honest, it can be a bit stressful for some. So today we’re going to give you some helpful pointers to make the process a bit easier. 

First up, certifications. 

Why is it important to work with a certified hardwood flooring craftsman?


Great question! 

When you’re shopping around for that perfect hardwood professional to collaborate with, we encourage you to ask questions, look at before and after photos of their work, and lastly (but perhaps most importantly)–inquire about their certifications. Ask your contractor what certifications they have and the benefits of those certifications so you can get a thorough understanding of what they bring to the table.

We should also mention that there are varying types of hardwood flooring certifications. So you’ll always want to do your research and ask in-depth questions to figure out which certifications you would like your hardwood flooring guru to have. 

Of course, it’s important to note that different certifications have different standards and criteria. But overall, hardwood flooring certifications give you the assurance that you’re getting someone who is considered an industry expert. So in return, you can rest easy knowing that you can expect a high level of professional and quality work. 

After all, your hardwood floors are going to be around for a long time so you’ll want a shop that you’re confident can create exactly what you want. So make sure you choose the right contractor with the right certifications for the job.

So what certifications should my hardwood flooring expert have?

Like we mentioned above, there are many different types of hardwood certifications. And here at Signature Custom Flooring, we offer a few different types– each one offering different requirements and standards. Holding a variety of certifications through different organizations means your craftsman meets some of the highest industry standards. It also means that you can expect some of the best hardwood installation, sanding, and finishing craftsmanship out there. 

Currently we offer certifications through both NWFA and Bona. 

NWFA certified craftsmanship 


NWFA stands for National Wood Flooring Association, and they’re known for offering some of the best hardwood certifications around. In fact, over 40 different manufacturers recommend using an NWFA Certified Professional when installing their wood flooring (but more on that later). And we are proud to offer both the Installer and Sand and Finisher Certification from the National Wood Flooring Association Certification Program (NWFACP). 

So what does this mean?


To become an NWFA certified installer or a certified sand and finisher, a craftsman must have completed all the installation and sand and finish courses at the National Wood Flooring Association University. Then, they must have a minimum of three year’s experience as a hardwood installer and three years of experience as a hardwood sander and finisher. Furthermore, this certification requires continuing education, meaning your NWFA craftsman has passed both written and hands-on tests administered by certified NWFA members.

Being a part of this professional program shows a tremendous amount of professional motivation and dedication as it takes years of excellent work to gain, ensuring that whoever maintains this certification will have the hardwood flooring knowledge to be recognized as an industry expert in hardwood installation and hardwood sanding and finishing. It is essentially like having a college degree in hardwood floors. 

And who wouldn’t want someone in their home with a college degree in hardwood?

But unlike a degree, an NWFA Certification can be taken away. So if the craftsman is not consistently providing work that meets precise standards for quality workmanship, they won’t be able to maintain the certification. 

And all of the NWFA Certified Professionals also sign a Code of Professional Conduct, meaning your NWFA certified tradesman adheres to standards in the Code of Professional Conduct and if there are any issues, then the craftsman is held accountable to that code through any complaints made through the NWFA complaint process. And this is a huge benefit to you as this helps protect you if anything were to go awry. 

Lastly, many manufacturers and architects recommend using NWFA certified professionals because it is a way to minimize the number of claims that might occur because they know that having an NWFA craftsman means having one of the best industry experts working on your floors. 

As you can see, earning this prestigious certification shows that the craftsman is dedicated to their trade. So much so that they are willing to invest their own money and time into obtaining the necessary knowledge to cultivate their skills and produce consistently high-quality work. 

And if you need a little extra info, you can find all NWFA-certified professionals listed in the online NWFA directory on the consumer website, You can also search for a certified craftsman based on their credentials and engagement in continuing education. This way, you can learn more about each certification and requirements necessary to earn them, making it super easy for you to verify a tradesman’s certifications and skills. 

So feel free to take a browse and see if an NWFA certified craftsman is right for you. And If you would like to drive a little deeper, you can check out this post about the benefits of working with an NWFA Certified professional. 

Now that you know a bit (well a lot) about the NWFA certifications, let’s look at the Bona hardwood certification. 

Bona certified craftsmanship 


So I’m sure you’ve heard of Bona flooring products. It’s hard to walk into any store that sells cleaning supplies without seeing Bona. 

It a well-known brand, and because of this holds anyone who has this certification to high standards. Tradesman holding this certification were hand-picked, trained, and tested by certified Bona members. And Bona certified craftsman receive rigorous hands-on training dedicated to best practices in sanding, refinishing, and caring for hardwood floors. Moreover, they are required to pass an intensive written test on technique and product application and are trained to give you environmentally friendly choices. Make sure to check out this post about why hardwood is one of the best environmentally friendly flooring options. 

So why is this great for you?

Well carrying this certification also offers a 5-star advantage (which is like an insurance policy for your floors) and comes with the promise of Lifetime Support from your certified craftsman. But maybe one of the most unique things about this certification is that the craftsmen are trained to use the Bona-approved dust containment system during all sanding processes. This means that if you ever want to refinish your floors, that the job will virtually be dust free. 

If you know anyone who’s ever had their floors sanded, you know that this is a pretty awesome thing. No one wants a bunch of dust floating all over their home while they’re getting their floors refinished! 

So as you can see, this third-party certification sports a lot of benefits that we hope gives you the assurance needed to trust a Bona-certified professional with a major investment like hardwood floors. After all, going with a Bona professional ensures that you are dealing with a quality, top-level professionals with a proven track record.

And holding both NWFA and Bona certifications means that you can expect a great experience, gorgeous floors, a clean and safe worksite, and the highest standards of craftsmanship available.


That we can promise.


So now that you know about our certifications and why they are important, we would also like to mention that every year some of the biggest names in the hardwood flooring game hold manufactures classes and invite-only events and training. Getting an invitation to one of these events or training really says a lot about a craftsman, so this is also a great way to verify your craftsman’s ability and skill. So for a little extra added reassurance, you can always ask your contractor about any classes, events, or training they have attended. 

Aaron is our owner in the form of our very own professional installer and do-it-all hardwood enthusiast and artist. He has attended many manufacture classes from Loba. Loba is a big name in hardwood and offers some of the most comprehensive hands-on technical education for wood flooring. 

He’s also attended invitation-only events in California and Texas and has participated in grand openings and training through Rubio Monocoat and DuraSeal. Getting invites to these events says a lot about the craftsman. After all, these are two of the biggest names in hardwood flooring. 


So who will you trust with your hardwood flooring project? 

There’re a lot of options to choose from including big box stores like Home Depot or local hardwood flooring shops. And each of these options has its advantages. But one thing’s for sure, if you’re looking for a dedicated and certified craftsman who prides himself on superior customer service, and an overall personalized experience, then going with your local hardwood flooring expert is a must. 

 So whether you are looking to refinish your floors or get new hardwood, Signature Custom Flooring has you covered. We’re an artisanal hardwood flooring shop serving Waunakee, Wisconsin and surrounding areas. Check out some of our custom hardwood flooring projects we have created for people who wanted that tailored-just-for-you experience. 

And just remember, when deciding on a hardwood expert, it’s important to:

-Ask in-depth questions

-Look at their work

-Inquire about their certifications, training, and events they’ve attended

Ok, so now that you’re armed with all the useful info you need on how to pick a great hardwood flooring expert, we hope that you feel confident and excited about your hardwood journey ahead. And if you need any help or have any questions. Feel free to give us a call at (920) 279-7871or click here for a complimentary consultation. 

We look forward to creating the perfect custom-tailored floors that’ll make your Pinterest board come alive with the floors you’ve been dreaming of. 

Have you ever looked across your hardwood floor and admired the beauty, and yet thought that it was still missing something to really make it stand out? If you have, you are not alone. In fact, even in my own house or projects I try to look for ways that will take my wood floors to the next level. So, when I learned about wire brushing hardwood floors, you can say that I was quite intrigued.

Wire brushing a hardwood floor is exactly as it sounds. The same type of wire brush material that you use to clean off metal is used to create a unique pattern in your hardwood floor. If you are worried that wire brushing sounds a little extreme or aggressive to do on a hard wood floor, let me assure you that this technique can be accomplished without causing damage to the integrity of the floor or shortening its life span. Now, let’s take a look at how this technique is accomplished, and different things that affect the process.

Wire brushing essentially removes some of the spring wood, which is the softest grain of the wood, to create a texture in the flooring. With that being said, wire brushing will have a more dramatic effect on softer grained woods like oak, ash, or black walnut, and a very minimal effect on harder grained wood species like maple, or Brazilian cherry.

When wire brushing a floor, the same preparations are taken such as sanding, and screening the floor to make sure you are working on a smooth and level surface. After these preparations are completed, the floor is then sprayed with a light coat of water to help open the grain of the wood for wire brushing, and to minimize any dust created by the process. A special machine equipped with wire brushes is then used on the floor to remove the spring wood, creating a unique texture to the floor. After this is completed, the floor is finished with a stain, if desired, and then sealer and finish is applied as the final steps.

This technique creates a unique texture that you may have never seen before. In addition, dark stains are often chosen with this technique as it enhances, and brings out the texture created by wire brushing. Hardwood flooring is our passion, and we would love to help take your floors to the next level.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but when it comes to hiring someone to have work done on my house, I do a lot of research to see  if I can answer some of my own questions before having them start the project. Having your engineered or solid hardwood floors refinished can be quite the undertaking. We want to help you make this process a little easier by answering some of your questions that we’ve heard over the last 10 years. Here are our top 11 questions answered about having your hardwood floors refinished!

What does it cost to have my floors refinished?

Having your floors refinished is time consuming. No matter if it’s a couple hundred feet or a few thousand. It requires the same amount of  equipment. You also can’t speed up dry times. With taking that all into place we start out at a minimum of $1,600 and go up from there based on the size of the job. To find out more about the cost you can read more here.

How long does the average refinish take?

Our average refinish takes 3-5 days from start to finish. A lot of this depends on what type of wood, condition of the floor, layout of the house, and whether the floor is getting stained. All of these factors play into the estimated time it takes to complete your job.

Will I have to leave my house during the refinishing process?

During the hardwood refinishing process you don’t have to leave your house. We work with you to let you know of times when you may not be able to walk on the floors (generally only a couple of hours). However, once the final coat is applied, in most cases you’ll need to wait overnight before you can walk on the floors. After the final coat has dried, you will be able to walk on the floor, but only with socks for a couple of days, as the floor is still curing. The alternative would be to choose our UV finish which is fully cured right away via our machine that uses UV light to cure the finish. This allows you to move furniture back into your space and walk on the floor after the curing process.

How dusty will my house be from having my floors refinished?

You’ll barely know that we were there refinishing your floors. We have invested in some of the best dust-containment equipment around. Take a look at this video to see how little airborne dust there is.   

Will my house smell from having my floors refinished?

  Generally the smell is very minimal as we try to use low VOC products (Volatile Organic Compounds). Typically speaking, the higher the level of VOC’s in a product, the more odors you will have. While we use low VOC products whenever possible, some of the stains we use do have a bit of a smell to them. However, once the stains have dried the smell from them starts to go away.

What colors can you make my wood floors?

The sky’s the limit when it comes to what color you want your wood floors to be. From bleaching a floor to remove color pigments, to using reactive stains to create a unique grey color, there are so many choices it can make your head spin! Not to worry, during our consult with clients we help them look at their floors as a part of the whole and not a separate entity. We can help you choose the right color for your home that will help tie together your new floor with your current decor.



What finish is best for my hardwood floors?

Choosing the right type and quality of hardwood floor finishes can be kinda tricky. Let’s go through a few things to help make the choices of finish a little clearer. One thing that always comes up is, “what is the most durable finish?”. Durability of finishes can vary so much and depend on different things. However, the biggest single factor in the durability and longevity of your finish is how well you maintain your floors. 

Water-Based Polyurethane Finishes

We offer a few different water based polyurethane finishes with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) along with hard-wax finishes. These finishes range from a single component finish all the way up to on-site UV cured finish. These coatings protect from above creating a film over top of the wood.  


Hardwax Oil Finish

Hardwax oil finishes are a little different in how they protect the floor. The oil not only soaks into the grain of the wood and protects within, it also protects from above by molecular bonding to the fibers of the wood. Hardwax oil finishes also typically tend to have a more matte look .


Which of these finishes is best for you?

There are many factors in choosing the right finish for your floors, but both will perform well. Selecting the proper finish really depends on what your expectations are for the floor and how much maintenance you are willing to do.

Do I have to move my appliances?

A lot of times it is best to move your stove and refrigerator when you are having your hardwood floors refinished. This allows us to refinish the entire floor, so if you ever change out your appliances to newer ones you won’t have to worry that its not the same size and that there will be an ugly spot that isn’t covered by the slightly smaller appliance.


Do I have to remove my baseboards when I get my floors refinished?

This is a very common misconception people have. They think that the machines wouldn’t be able to get up close to the base boards, and that there would be flooring that was unfinished. The machine we use to remove the old finish around the room where our belt sanding machine can’t go is called an edger. The edger gets nice and close to the base without damaging it so you don’t have to remove the base. The only time we recommend removing the base is if the floor is cupped and the base isn’t sitting flat on the floor, or the wood has been sanded a few times and there is a build up of wood showing under the base.  



How long after my wood floors are refinished can I move furniture back?

Typically, about two days after the final coat of finish is applied the floor is about 80-90% cured and you can move your furniture back on your wood floors. Now, there are a few a few exceptions to this. If you go with UV cured finish, you don’t have to wait to move furniture or rugs back on the floor. The reason for this is that the UV machine instantly cures the finish and it’s as hard as it’s going to get. Another exception is Hardwax Oil. With this type of finish you only need to wait 24-36 hrs after the oil is applied to move furniture back on. We suggest running your whole house fan on your furnace to help with the curing process of both the hardwax oil and the water based finishes.  



When Can I Put Rugs Back On My Wood Floors?

Putting rugs back onto your newly refinished hardwood floors depends on what type of finish was applied. Lets say it was an oil based polyurethane that was applied to your floor, because it takes almost a month for the oil based poly to cure you need to wait a minimum of 2 weeks before putting your rugs back down. With hardwax oils and water based finishes you need to wait 1 week, but with UV finish there is no waiting period before placing your rugs back in place.

red rug on wood floor



We hope we were able to answer any questions you may have regarding your floor refinishing project. If you’d like to see more refinishing jobs we’ve done take a look at these 5 amazing transformations! 

What is Rubio Monocoat?

Rubio Monocoat is a hardwax oil that contains a unique blend of natural plant oils that molecularly bonds to the wood fibers and protects the hardwood. This not only protects the inside of the wood, but it also remains on top of the wood to add a second layer of protection. This is main difference with hardwax oils and penetrating oils. Penetrating oils only protect from within but don’t sit on top of the hardwood. However, with Rubio’s technologies it creates a dual protection for the wood flooring.


Creating a Unique Look

Having the ability to create something unique that will compliment your style and decor is always an added benefit. This is one of the main reasons that we love using Rubio Monocoat. The ability to mix and match different colors or layer them to create a field of depth is unique to this product. This allows us to color match or create a custom color regardless of the species of wood. The following projects in Neenah, WI were all custom color projects that we were able to create to match the client’s desired look.


Rubio Monocoat Refinishes in Neenah

Not only do we do refinishes in Neenah but all of the Fox Valley. Today we are going to show you 3 hardwood floor refinishers in Neenah. These floors were all black walnut, which is one of my favorite wood species, as it has such a unique and beautiful grain pattern. These three refinishes where all unique, not only in color, but also included the layout, pattern of the wood and how it was laid out.


Intriguing Brown Grey Walnut   


This walnut floor was previously coated with a film finish, and while it looked good to most people, we knew that we could make this black walnut floor stand out. The current finish on the floor was hiding its beauty instead of putting it on display. We knew that this floor was in need of Rubio Monocoat to display its full potential, so we started prepping the floor to be refinished. As we started sanding the floor to remove the old finish, we noticed that the floor had suffered from cupping due to the higher humidity in the house. This particular house was a lakefront property, which added to the challenge of maintaining proper humidity to keep the floor in its best shape, but we will cover this in another article. With a little bit of extra work, we were able to get the floor smooth and flat. We then recoated the floor with Rubio Monocoat and revealed the amazing floor that we knew was there all along.

Hardwood Flooring Company in WI

Cool grey brown color on Black Walnut floor







New Kitchen with Warm Brown Tones

This project was a really fun one to work on. We got to see how the space was transformed from multiple rooms into one beautiful open space. After the remodeler had removed all the walls in the kitchen, re-drywalled, and painted the space, it was time for us to install the walnut flooring. To read more about the process of this cool project read more here . Once we had finished installing the floor the remodelers came back and finished installing all the cabinets and other things. When we refinish a floor in a home remodel, we like the hardwood floor refinishing part to be one of the last things to be completed. The reason for this, is that while other people are working in your home, such as contractors, painters etc, there is a good chance that your floors could get scratched or dented in the process. If we refinish the floors last, we are able to take out any minor imperfections that may have been caused by the others working on your remodel project. With this particular project, we refinished the floor, and then applied a warm brown Rubio Monocoat color to the floor. The final product was a warm inviting color that enriched the grain tone and overall look of the floor. having to work in your house and on your floors there’s chances of things happening to the floor.

White cabinets with tile backsplash and wood floors

Walnut floors gracing this new kitchen







Historic House with Parquet Floor  

This historic house is located in the city of Neenah,WI. It has some of the coolest rooms I’ve seen. My inner designer self was geeking out over all the architectural details that were in this space. From the fireplace with built in bookcases surrounding it, to the expansive space of the room. We knew that changing the color of the walnut floor to a more modern color along with the unique look of Rubio Monocoat would really set this grand space apart! Now there had been some movement in these floors in how they were installed over seventy years ago. Back then, they would install the floor using a tar like substance to adhere the floor to the subfloor. Along with the glue loosening up over time, foundational shifts and not keeping the temperature and humidity consistent cause the wood to move. This had caused there to be gaps in the floor, however, due to the age of the house it really just added to its character. Parquet flooring adds another level of challenge when sanding the floor because of the orientation of the wood. Each section of parquet flooring has a different orientation than the section next to it, which creates cross sanding when refinishing the floor. This requires another sanding technique to remove all cross sanding marks from each parquet section. Once we had completed the sanding process, we applied the custom color to the walnut parquet floor. You can see how each tile of parquet flooring glimmers as you look at it.

Rubio Monocoat applied Walnut floor

Glimmering walnut floor









As you can see these walnut floors really enhanced the warmth and beauty of these rooms. It is not only due to the the fact that they have walnut floors in theses spaces, but also the color choices makes a vast difference too. Not only are we capable of refinishing walnut flooring but many different wood species. To see some of the other wood species we’ve worked on check out these floors!    


Now, before we get going, I’m going to admit that I’m a pretty big dog lover, so my point of view may be a little biased. They say that your dog is just an extension of its owners personality, and I can definitely attest to that. However, your furry friend doesn’t mean that you can’t have and maintain a beautiful hardwood floor. Now, there are a few different things with your flooring that will affect its durability and resistance to dents and scratches.

wood floor-dog-entryway

Wood Hardness

The first leading factor as to how your flooring will hold up against wear and tear from a pet is the natural hardness of the wood species. You are probably thinking that the harder the species of wood the less likely it is to dent or scratch, and you would be absolutely correct. That is why when clients ask me what species of wood to choose, I generally recommend hickory or any species that has a higher hardness rating than hickory. Choosing a harder species of wood will help to keep your floor from denting, especially if you have a medium to big sized dog. If you have a smaller dog, you could choose a slightly softer species of wood and still have a great looking floor.


Type of Finish

Sometimes clients have the misconception that you can just put a very hard finish on the floor and it makes it virtually indestructible. The issue with this, is that if you put a very hard finish on a softer wood, the floor will still dent. That is why we recommend a combination of a harder species of wood, as discussed previously, with a more durable finish. Typically for finish, we recommend either a commercial grade finish, or a UV finish. These are both great options for protecting your floors, especially if you have pets. Another option is to use a hard wax oil as opposed to a film finish which is what the commercial and UV finish are. The film finishes provide a topcoat on the floor, whereas a hard wax oil penetrates into the actual wood fibers to provide a protective barrier. The advantage of this product over film type finishes is that if the wood floor dents or scratches, you don’t notice it as much because it has more of a low sheen matte finish to it.


Regular Cleaning of Your Hardwood Floor

Regular cleaning of your wood floor is one of the most important, and easiest, things you can do to keep your floors looking great! If you own dogs, regular cleaning is even more important. Where I live there is a lot of sand and my dog loves to roll around in the dirt, and of course he digs! Guess where all the dirt and grime ends up when he comes in the house? You guessed it, on the floors. If we don’t regularly clean the floor it would over time wear the finish out sooner from all of the dirt getting ground into the finish.


Trimming your Dogs Nails

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with keeping your hardwood floors looking nice. Well, keeping your dogs nails shorter prevent them from wanting to dig in as much as they are walking. it also protects the flooring from scratches as their nails are also a bit more blunt and not so pointed. Read More…


We hope that these tips help keep your hardwood floors looking great and your furry friend happy to be on hardwood floors!


Hardwood flooring has been the most universally desirable choice for floors almost as long as floors have been a thing. The variety of tones, textures and levels of hardness combined with the wide availability of lumber in North America have made hardwood flooring a choice many homebuyers and builders don’t even need to think about when selecting a floor.


In addition to its objective qualities, hardwood flooring can elicit a range of emotions as well. An enchanting white oak makes you feel open and calm about your living space. A luxurious black walnut gives you a feeling of refinement and elegance that few other floors can match. Or maybe you want the warmth and coziness that a caramel bamboo provides.


Many homebuyers factor these feelings the house gives them into their decision to purchase or not. While you may be able to explain in vivid detail how the flooring makes you feel, the type of wood that actually makes up your distinguished living room, or your airy kitchen may not be as easy to explain.


Visual identification


Unlike roofing, counter tops or architectural and design elements, you can’t really tell what kind of wood you have just by looking at it. At least not without a few caveats.


First and foremost, you must have a sample of the wood that allows you to see the end of the planks. Without such a sample, it’s going to be very difficult and impossible even to identify the type of wood you have.


The end of the plank is the unfished area that is made visible when a plank is cut laterally.


Solid wood looks like real wood


Because the visible portion of the wood floor on top of the planks can be finished and stained in a variety of ways, the real wood is going to be what you see on the end of the planks. If you can spot visible end-grain along this edge (that is natural-looking wood grain composed of rings and consistent running wood lines).



End-grain visible on Black Locust Wood Species


Particle or composite board

You can see in the images above that the bottom image looks very familiar to anybody who has ever put together a piece of Ikea or Sauder furniture. It’s that messy, sawdusty wood that feels like it could fall apart if not held together by the thin veneers. It’s not a terrible choice for wood flooring, but it is not solid wood.


If the wood appears real, it may still have a veneer on it. The best way to identify veneers is to keep an eye out for repeated patterns in the wood.


Okay, so I have a solid wood sample. What’s next?


Next is figuring out the color of the wood and the grain. If your wood sample and flooring was stained, you may have to plane the sample in order to see the color of the grain. Likewise, if the wood has a patina on it (or natural discoloration that takes place as a wood surface ages), you will need to sand the sample down and see the way the wood appears.


Because a number of different woods may have similar colors, discovering the color of the wood will not provide an immediate answer, but it will help you narrow it down.  Certain wood colors like black or red are an exception, being almost immediately indicative of uniquely colored solid wood varieties (ebony and padauk respectively – though you’d probably know if you had one of these floors as it would have added a couple of ten thousands to the price of your home).


It’s all about finding patterns






So color alone is not likely to help us identify wood. The other key factor is looking at the grain on the wood’s surface. Just like the supposedly vain pursuit of trying to figure out the secret to the stock market, we’re looking for patterns here (we’ll get it someday)!


Oak is one of the most common hardwood flooring materials. It’s durable, sufficiently hard and widely available. Oak is almost instant recognizable for it’s open and porous grain texture. This large open grain texture has made oak a preferred choice for unfinished rustic appearances.




If the wood grain is smooth and lacks the rough texture, it’s probably a softer wood. Certain varieties of wood like lacewood or sycamore will be almost instantly recognizable by their grain.




How was the wood cut?


Depending on the wood species and lumber producer, wood is sawn in different ways. The two most popular ways to saw and cut a plank of wood are plain and quarter sawing. Plainsawn wood is cut tangentially to the raw lumber whereas quartersawn is cut radially.


Illustrated below, the two methods can make the same sample of wood look very different.




A – Quartersawn (notice the lateral graining) B – Plainsawn (notice the rings and running lines).


Knowing how to spot the difference will prevent misidentification.


Blessed are those who have not seen


As has been made clear, visual identification only goes so far with hardwood. There are two other big elements that should help you narrow your wood sample down to a possible list of final contenders.




The rule of thumb is that harder hardwoods (like Oak and Mahogany) will be heavier and more dense than softer hardwoods (like Pine). You can calculate the volume of your sample by measuring it’s height/width/depth in centimeters and multiplying them. Next, place your sample on a kitchen scale. Measure in grams and place the grams over the volume.


You should wind up with a number like 9.575g / 25 cc (cubic centimeters). If you divide this, you will find you get the number .383 g / 1 cc or .383 g/cc.


Next you can reference this handy chart and try and find the closest match. In this case, it’s buckeye yellow that comes in at .383 g/cc. Buckeye is not a common flooring material and a quick Google search confirms it looks nothing like my sample, so I would keep trying to find close numbers and letting their physical appearance confirm or deny our hypotheses.




Finally testing the hardness by trying to scratch the sample with various items should prove whether or not the wood is a hardwood or a softwood (softwood will scratch easily with less hard items like glass or aluminum, hardwood will take harder metals like iron to scratch).


Again using this data, you can reference a chart like the Janka Hardwood Test to help narrow down your guess based on the physical appearance.


That sounds like a lot of science


It is actually a lot of science. It takes a pretty scientific approach to identify a species of wood out of the entire beautiful and diverse spectrum. If science and algebra aren’t strong suits for you (and believe me, you’re not alone). You can always contact us at Signature Custom Flooring for more information and an experienced investigation!


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National Wood Flooring Association Member • NWFA Certified Sand & Finisher Professional