You have many options when choosing a hardwood or laminate floor. To narrow your choices, explore the flooring features that determine what your floor will look like.
Choosing the right hardwood floor for your home is a matter of personal taste. Trust your instincts as you consider the hardwood features that will match your decorating style.
Your selection of a hardwood floor begins with the wood species. The species determines a floor’s appearance and its durability.
Each wood species has a unique look that’s defined by its graining and other character marks like mineral streaks, burls, pin holes, and knots. Oak, for example, has well-defined variations in grain, while the graining in maple is more subtle.
Not all hardwoods are equally hard, so choose one that will deliver the durability level you need in your room. Hickory, oak, and maple have high hardness ratings that will provide extra durability.
The color of your hardwood floor is based on the wood species and the stain applied to the wood. Staining adds color to enhance the natural look of the wood and reduce the amount of natural color variations.
Texture impacts the character of your floor and complements the design style of your room.
- Smooth for a classic, timeless look
- Distressed for a country or rustic look
- Hand-Scraped for any style – rustic to contemporary
The width of the boards dramatically affects the overall look of the floor.
- Strips (less than 3") – slender boards visually expand the size of a room
- Plank (4" and up) – combines rustic charm and casual comfort
- Random widths – perfect for a country retreat or an urban loft
Laminate floors capture the authenticity and colors of real wood species, natural stones, and ceramics. Beyond woods and stones, laminate can also mimic unexpected materials like aged metals and precast cement.
- Woods – everything from domestic woods and exotics to reclaimed, distressed, and hand-scraped looks
- Stones – natural stone and slate looks
- Trends – exciting designs that capture hard-to-get or expensive materials like aged metal, cement, and weathered wood
Like hardwood, laminate boards come in different widths, so you can create the look you want for your room – whether it’s modern, traditional, or any style in between.
- Planks (3") – adds contemporary styling
- Wide plank (5" and up) – marries the look of vintage floors with present-day design influences
- Random widths (3", 5", and 7") – captures rustic trends
- Random lengths – creates a rich, custom look
Your lifestyle plays a big role in your flooring selection. Make sure to choose a floor that will stand up to your expectations.
Some species of wood are harder than others, which makes them more resistant to dents, dings, and natural signs of wear. Species like oak, maple, and hickory are highly durable, so they are excellent choices for “high traffic” rooms and busy homes.
Quality hardwood floors will last a lifetime with proper care. Be aware, however, since hardwood is a natural wood product, it will take on a distinctive visual character as it ages. Choose a more durable hardwood if you prefer less aged character.Compare Hardwood Hardness
The finish is the surface coating that protects the hardwood floor from wear and scratches, and it also determines the gloss level. Bruce hardwood floors come in a variety of finishes. Choose one that suits your lifestyle.
Bruce Hardwood Finishes
- Lifetime Finish – toughest finish with a nano aluminum oxide formula
- Permion™ Finish – protects against extreme wear and traffic
- Dura-Luster® Plus – resists everyday traffic, wear, soil, and stains
- Dura-Luster® Finish – provides standard protection from soil, stains, and wear
You’ll find the type of finish for your floor on the product page or in the online brochure.
The finish coating is the top layer that adds durability and can add either a matte or polished look to a hardwood floor.
- Low gloss – no shine, stylish, good for high traffic areas
- Medium gloss – slight shine, hides wear and smudges
- High gloss – creates a sophisticated look but shows wear more easily
While the coating can affect both durability and shine, the gloss level itself does not impact the durability or performance of hardwood.
Laminate is highly durable and less likely to scratch than hardwood. It’s an ideal choice for active homes with kids and pets.
Two features affect the durability of a laminate floor: the wear layer and the structure – or core.
Bruce Laminate Wear Layer
All Bruce laminate floors have the exclusive G3™ wear layer, which protects against stains, fading, scratches, and scuffs.
Laminate flooring has four layers: a wear layer, a design layer, an inner core layer, and a backing layer. It’s this layered construction which makes laminate floors so durable.
Bruce Laminate Structure
Bruce laminate floors are built around our exclusive Magnum HDF™ Core, which provides a stable foundation and barrier against spills and subfloor moisture. Bruce premium floors have a Magnum Plus HDF™ Core, which offers a more substantial feel and the solid sound of real hardwood.
The gloss or finish on a laminate floor enhances the design image. Choose the gloss level that complements your design style.
Bruce Gloss Levels
- Low Lustre – a smooth sheen gloss that enhances the beauty of the design image
- Low – a low gloss that gives the appearance of oil-rubbed hardwood
- Medium gloss – a mid-gloss that is in between our low gloss and piano gloss
- Piano – a high gloss formal finish that shines
Hardwood and laminate floors are available at a wide range of price points. What makes one floor cost more than another? Find out what influences pricing to understand the value of your floor.
Wood Species & Wood Demand
Hardwood costs are influenced by two main factors: the type of wood species and the high demand for wood in other industries.
- Abundant American species, like maple and oak, are most affordable.
- Less-abundant exotic hardwoods are more difficult to obtain, so they are higher-priced.
Hardwood is a prime raw material for
- Flooring and trim
- Truck manufacturing
- Furniture and cabinetry
- Industrial use: pallets, ties, crane mats, etc.
The higher the demand for wood, the higher the wood costs everywhere.
Within a species, price varies based on the grade of the lumber. Premium grades have a more refined appearance, with less color variations and fewer knots and mineral streaks.
More raw lumber is needed to get unblemished boards that are longer and wider, so these size boards cost more than shorter sizes.
Surface treatments like hand-scraping, color washing, distressing, or acrylic infusion (adds extra hardness to the top wear layer) add to the overall cost of a hardwood floor.
Bruce laminate flooring is offered in several standard thicknesses, measured in millimeters – from 7.00 mm up to 12 mm. The thicker the board, the more substantial it feels underfoot. Also, thicker boards offer better sound absorption.
Today’s sophisticated laminate technology makes it possible to get beautiful visuals in exotic, expensive, or hard-to-get materials (like aged metal, weathered wood) in an affordable floor.
Bruce flooring designs are created through our exclusive Hi-Definition Print Technology™ with VTx™. This technology allows our designers to produce ground-breaking designs with brilliant detail.
Beveled planks are individually shaped to create a deep “V”-shaped groove on the edges of the planks. This beveled edge helps create a casual look, and hides subfloor imperfections.
Compare hardwood hardness
Selected Wood Species Chart
|Species||Characteristics||Janka Hardness Rating|
|With its rustic appeal, hickory is a popular choice for hardwood floors. It has an active grain pattern and dramatic board-to-board color variation. Hickory is harder than oak, which makes it ideal for active homes.||
|Maple is an extremely durable hardwood with fine, straight graining. Colors range from off-white to light tan with reddish streaks. With its clean lines and light coloring, maple hardwood is an excellent choice for traditional, modern, or eclectic decorating styles.||
|Oak is available in two types of hardwood: white and red. Red is the most popular flooring choice in North America. Red oak also has more color variation and a more pronounced grain pattern than white oak.||
WHITE OAK: 1360
|Ash is a strong hardwood, ranking just below oak on the Janka scale. Ash has a bold, straight grain and ranges in color from creamy white to dark brown. If you like oak, but prefer a quieter, more consistent graining pattern, ash is your best choice.||
|Birch is a moderately hard hardwood. Its colors range from light yellow to light brownish red. Birch has a smooth, fine grain, similar to maple. Birch is at home with any decorating style. Choose a high gloss for a modern or contemporary- style room or a hand-scraped treatment for a more rustic style.||
|Walnut is a medium-hard hardwood. It has a subtle grain pattern with large burls. With its rich dark tones, walnut perfectly complements a room with an elegant décor.||
|Cherry is known for its beautiful light brown color, smooth texture, and fine grain. It’s not as hard as other hardwoods, so be cautious when using it in high traffic areas. Cherry also darkens with age and exposure to bright sunlight.||