Hickory vs Oak Flooring: Pros, Cons & Differences

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Hickory Vs. Oak Comparison

Hickory and oak are some of the most preferred wood floorings. Hopefully, you are in flooring business either installing or planning to upgrade your floor. Imagining you have carefully considered your option and been left with Hickory and Oak as your only option. Both are hardwood and available in solid or engineered planks.

Hickory is one of the hardest, toughest wood mostly used for axe handle. It’s an excellent unique flooring that can brighten your house with a rustic look. On the other hand, Oak is one of the most popular hardwood floorings. Generally, red oak and white oak are the commonly used species for flooring.

Hickory vs Oak flooring: Differences

Has a Janka hardness rating of 1820.White oak has a Janka rating of 1350 and red oak 1220.
Due to its hardness, its more expensive than oak. Red oak is a cheaper option than white oak and hickory.
Prone to rot, thus require treatment against rot.White and red oak is more resistant to rot than hickory.
Resistant to insects and Heartwood decay. Prone to insects and heartwood decay than hickory.
Can last tens of decades with minimal essential care for your flooringIt can last longer with proper care. Although can be outdone by hickory
It has variety, all 16 species can be used for flooring.Limited in variety. Only white and red oak are more preferred for flooring.
Good for staining than oakIt can be stained to a preferred look
 Might increase house value significantly. This, however, depends on individual taste and preference Increases the house values significantly, though might be less than hickory


Durability- Hickory or Oak?

Both are hardwood floors and available as solid or engineered flooring. The solid types can be refinished multiple times for both. But for engineered plank, they can only be refinished once. Both can withstand high traffic areas flooring. Hickory resists scratches and dings more than both red and white oak.

Water Resistance

Moisture and water is a problem with hickory and oak flooring. Swelling and shrinking will occur due to moisture for both.


Both can be stained to have the desired outlook


UV rays or photosensitivity is an issue for both flooring types. Photo-sensitivity can affect any type of flooring unless it is in a room with no light. For both floorings, you need to consider windows and the amount of light each room receives.

Colour and Appearance

Both floorings have different unique styles and intrinsic beauty. Hickory has distinct varied grains.

Warm and Sound Absorption

Hickory and oak floors provide warmth on your feet. you don’t have to worry about walking on it barefooted. Both have good absorption characteristics for your house.

Health Effects

Hickory and Oak give out dust that can cause health breathing problems, always wear protective gear.

Variety, Designs, and Styles

The two flooring types are available in various styles and different board widths that can give you a good choice for the desired look.

Increased Home Value

One of the best important benefits of hardwood floors is increased house value. The use of both hickory and Oak increases the value of your property a lot. The use of a hickory and oak floor may also help to sell your house easily.

Popularity- Hickory or Oak?

Which of the two hickory and oak is mostly installed in homes? This may depend on the design and styles one is looking for. However, Oak flooring is more common than hickory. For the homeowners looking for unique grains, hickory becomes their preference. Price may be another determinant for popularity, hickory is a little more expensive than oak.


White oak takes the lead here, its quite hard and expands less when compared with hickory. Hickory is the hardest, although it expands and contracts slightly more than oak. White oak is more stable than hickory. If you decide to stick to hickory in areas with high humidity and temperature changes, select engineered hickory. Engineered hickory attached to the sub-floor reduces the contracting and expanding significantly. These characteristics for white oak makes it durable for use for wine barrels and boats for many decades.


Hickory is more expensive than oak. White oak is cheaper than red oak. Red oak is harder than white oak. This may be attributed to different prices of respective flooring. Recently survey shows the price of hickory flooring to range from $3.2 to $7.5 while oak flooring range from $2.6 to $5.8. In addition, the prices may vary due to the number of knots and other minor imperfections. The installation cost generally remain s between $3 to $4 per square foot.

Hickory vs Oak floor Pros and Cons

Hickory flooring pro and cons

Making the decision on which floor to install requires more understanding of the pros and cons of your flooring choices. Cost implications, installing charges, cleaning and maintenance cost among others are major considerations.

Pro’s of Hickory hardwood floors

  • Hickory has unique intrinsic grain patterns distinct form oak flooring.
  • Hickory is very attractive with its rustic look.
  • Hickory flooring planks are more popular. Planks deal better with grains’ complexity and allow homeowners to enjoy these beautiful grains.
  • A good flooring stain can make a lot of difference. It can be the boldest choice depending on style and home furnishings.
  • Easy maintenance cost. Easy to clean, simple sweeping and Vacuuming is just enough to maintain your hickory floor.
  • Hickory is insects and Heartwood decay-resistant, a problem found in other floorings. This enables hickory to retain its beauty for decades

Cons of Hickory Hardwood Flooring

  • Rustic appearance may not be attractive and appealing to some people.
  • Hickory has grains variations which may require a lot of work for the flooring to be cohesive.
  • Consider hiring a qualified installer with experience in installing this great beautiful flooring. The experienced installer may be able to deal with changing patterns better than DIYs.
  • Rot and decay are an issue, thus necessary treatment needs to be done which is an additional cost.

Pro’s of Oak Hardwood Flooring

oak flooring pro and cons
  • Oak is more stable, it can be installed in an area with high humidity and extreme temperature changes.
  • Oak is the most popular choice for Homeowners
  • Oak cost less expensive than Hickory.
  • It can be stained to the preferred color.
  • Low maintenance cost. Regular cleaning and mopping will keep your oak floor awesome.

Cons of Oak Hardwood Flooring

  • Very common thus not a good choice for homeowners looking for a unique touch of hardwood.
  • Difficult to install. It requires you to hire a professional installer, not for DIYs.
  • Dog and cat claws, high heeled shoes and furniture are likely to leave scratches and dents on your floor. Furniture underneath pads may help overcome this problem
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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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