Ultimate Guide to Hickory Flooring 2022: Cost + Pros and Cons

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guide to hickory flooring

Hickory is one of the most important types of trees in the US.

It is called a nut tree (genus “Carya” which means “nut” in Ancient Greek), and we get a lot of benefits from these trees. Hickory spans the US in different forms (up to 23 distinct species, to be exact).

You will find the noble pecan tree among their numbers and is the sweetest nut produced. Almost all hickory flooring boards, planks and cores are produced from US grown and harvested hickory.

As far as the flooring goes, Hickory has a natural rustic coloring and a hardiness above that of even oak. Is it the right material for your new floor, though? We will find out in this article. Let’s take a closer look at hickory and hickory flooring options to help you decide.

Hickory Flooring Benefits

Hickory, as a whole, as a lot of benefits. As a flooring option there are several as well. Here are the top benefits to choosing hickory wood for your floor.

  • Can be wet mopped. With almost no exception you can spray and clean hickory with water.
  • Low maintenance. Overall, there is virtually no maintenance aside from regular cleaning.
  • Multiple colors and styles. Hickory is one of the most wide-variety of tree and has many different natural colors and tones.
  • US grown. Of all the hickory types, the US is responsible for at least 12 species itself. Most of the flooring made of hickory comes from US grown trees.
  • Affordable. Hickory, though seen as rare, is among the most affordable hardwoods and exotics in the industry.

What is Hickory Flooring?

Hickory wood is one of the most common wood and lumber trees in the US. However, as a tree itself, hickory is among the least populated, compared to the more abundant pine and oak.

When used as a flooring, hickory comes in natural colors and tones from yellows to silvers. It is also among the most easily stained hardwoods available. It’s biggest attraction, though, is the natural grain pattern that is rarely, if ever, duplicated from board to board. Even when cut from the same tree.

Hickory is more expensive than oak, but has a lot of additional benefits, making it a viable option over almost any other wood type. Though it isn’t designed for every budget, the size of your project may accommodate the price of hickory.

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Hickory Floors

buyers guide best hickory floors

Choosing the right hickory floor is more than just the color or grain pattern. Below, you will find several factors that are important to your final purchasing decision.

Hickory Flooring Type

Hickory wood flooring comes in many types. The most common is solid wood. As a hardwood floor, hickory is durable and reliable. It also comes in engineered hardwood, which is DIY install friendly and slightly cheaper.

Coverage Area Size

The overall project size (in square feet) is also going to be a huge factor. You will pay for the product by the square foot and the more space to cover, obviously, the more you will pay. Hickory is ideal for most budgets when there is a single room to cover, but may be a turn off when you are attempting to floor an entire home.

Additional Materials

Like most other hardwoods, you will need an underlayment, moisture barrier and the right subfloor. You should also look into thresholds, spacers, sealants and even cleaners. All of these will come from your flooring budget and can add up quickly.

Installation Method

Hickory planks aren’t difficult to install but you may not have the time or patience to perform a DIY install. Professional installation is always an option (we cover this in more detail below). Just know that with a professional install, you will easily double or even triple your cost.

Board Size

Hickory is available in many different sizes. Depending on the brand and location of your purchase you can get wide boards, narrow boards, standard length boards (4 to 6 feet), extra long boards (up to 9 feet) and many other variations in between.

Janka Hardness Scale

The Janka hardness scale is a measure of the hardness of a particular wood. This is measured by the force pounds (lbf) it takes to embed a steel ball halfway through a board. The higher the force needed, the hardier and stronger the wood is.

Hickory is fairly tough with a rating of about 1820 lbf. This places it much higher on the scale than the more common red and white oak options (1290 and 1360 lbf, respectively).

Warranty

Warranty coverage will vary based on the brand and purchase location, as you would expect. Warranties for flooring can be any duration from 90 days to lifetime. With hardwood flooring, the industry average is between 5 and 25 years, though there are outliers.

Before you buy, you will want to read the warranty paperwork to find out what is covered, for how long and what you must do to make a claim. Many warranties will also require you to register the purchase and give you a time frame (60 – 90 days in general) which will all be outlined in the fine print.

Cost

Finally, you will need to plan and budget for the price of the floor. This price will not include installation, repairs, extra work or additional materials, and is for the cost of the flooring itself. On average hickory is a mid- to high-end price point starting about $4 per square foot and in some cases exceeding $12 per square foot.

Hickory Flooring Pros and Cons

pros and cons hickory floorings

Hickory does have many benefits. The good aspects of the lumber for flooring are important to note and they can swing your final vote over to the hickory side. However, there are a few negative aspects as well. Let’s look at each in more detail.

Advantages of Hickory

Benefits, features and options. There is plenty to like about hickory hardwood flooring.

  • Highly durable. Along with a high Janka score, hickory is durable and sturdy in all applications.
  • Low maintenance. Because hickory is thick and durable it is also extremely easy to care for. Standard sweeping and a regular mop is all that is needed.
  • Scratch and dent resistant. Hickory is among the hardest types of wood floors and is naturally scratch and dent resistant.
  • Natural style variances. You can look at every board and never see the same grain, swirl and knot pattern, creating individual and unique patterns.
  • Can be stained easily. If you do not like the natural tones of hickory, you can easily stain it lighter or darker, unlike other hardwoods that don’t stain well.
  • Color options. Most hickory floors fall between auburn and maroon shades, though you will also find natural golds, beige and brown varieties, too.
  • Pricing is affordable. While hickory isn’t the cheapest hardwood due to it’s supply level, it is still reasonably affordable for most budgets.

Disadvantages of Hickory

Hickory flooring has a lot of great things going for it, but there are a few downsides to be aware of.

  • Price and quality are connected. Lower priced hickory flooring generally has more knots, swirls and off-coloring of the boards.
  • Difficult to cut. With the hardness factor, hickory can be hard for the DIYer to cut and bend to get fully and properly installed.
  • Subflooring must be perfect. Even with engineered hickory as a floating floor install the subfloor cannot be in disrepair. This can lead to moisture accumulation and damage to the planks from underneath.
  • Some possible VOCs during manufacturing. Depending on the type and brand of hickory boards you choose, the adhesion and processes used may contain VOCs, you will have to check with the manufacturer or packaging, first.

Hickory Flooring Overall Ratings

hickory flooring overall ratings

Hickory is sustainable (though sparse), has a lot of benefits and is highly durable. Here is how it ranks on several key factors.

  • VOC Content Possibility: 3.5
  • Warranty: 4
  • Durability: 5
  • Installation: 3
  • Price: 3.5
  • Quality: 4
  • Eco-Friendliness: 4

 

  • Overall Rating: 3.9

Installing Hickory Floors

As with most hardwood and engineered options, you can perform the installation yourself or hire a professional. With hickory, though, DIY installs can be difficult to perform. In this section, we will look at both options to help you decide which is best for your needs.

DIY Install

For a DIY install you will need to ensure that the subfloor is in good repair. With hickory boards they won’t cover much in the way of warping or damage. Plus, any cracks, holes or missing areas will allow humidity and moisture build up which is bad for real wood.

Once you are sure your subfloor is in good shape, you will want to lay a moisture barrier. If your planks or boards come with an underlayment attached, you may not need this step. However, if your subfloor is concrete, it is still a good idea.

The boards will need to be cut to fit and sized to ensure a snug and proper fit. Many installers prefer to use a carbide tipped blade since it will cut easier and prevent scotching. However, this is generally reserved for much harder ironwoods like ipe.

As you lay the boards according to manufacturer’s instructions, you will want to ensure that all edges lock together (for click installs) or you are using the right amount and type of adhesive.

Once the final row is installed you will need to let the floor expand, which with hickory can take up to 24 hours. Once the expansion is complete, you can reinstall baseboards, thresholds and moldings, and return your furniture to the room.

Professional Install

If you don’t want to bother with the mess, hassle and time it takes to perform the install yourself, you can hire a professional.

With a professional contractor, they can order your flooring, ensure you get prompt delivery and have enough material on hand to complete the job. You will also find that by getting at least three estimates you can ensure you are getting the most complete job at the best price.

The hardest part is finding three reputable, local contractors to get those quotes from. With this, we can help. The free professional locator tool will take your information and return up to 4 viable, researched and fully vetted professionals in your area.

Each one will have been checked for licenses, certifications, customer reviews, location and many more factors. You will ensure that the companies you contact are capable of handling the job with the utmost professionalism.

Hickory Vs. Oak Flooring

When it comes to installing new hardwood flooring you have a lot of choices. Hickory and oak are two of the most popular choices, and for good reason.

Oak floors are generally white oak, though red oak is also used in abundance. Because there are much more oak trees than hickory, harvesting, growing and creating lumber from oak is much more sustainable and readily available. This makes oak flooring slightly cheaper than hickory.

However, oak has its own issues, such as not capable of holding a stain well, like hickory can. Oak is also much softer and can dent or scratch a lot easier than hickory. Still oak can be sanded and resurfaced a few times before replacement is needed, which is easier to do than with hickory.

The biggest draw hickory has is its coloring and style. While oak has long, repeatable grain patterns, you can get a more uniform appearance. Hickory, though, will give you loops, swirls and knotting that make each board unique, and can bring a lot of character to your floors.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Hickory Floors

Hickory cleaning and maintenance is actually quite easy. It is still real wood, though and there are a few things to watch out for.

Primarily you want to clean with a broom and dustpan, or a dust mop to get the larger debris and dust off of the surface. You can also use a stick vacuum, or a vacuum designed for hard flooring.

Mainly you want to limit the chances of causing scratches with high speed brush rollers or stiff bristles. Even though hickory is hard, durable and tough, it is best not to chance it.

However, one thing hickory has over a lot of other hardwood flooring options is that you can mop it. You don’t want to soak the floor, of course, but with a spray bottle of water, or wood-approved cleanser, you can spray the floor and use a dust mop to wipe up the cleaner.

Unlike some hardwoods, you don’t need to ensure the floor is dry and can only clean 2 square feet at a time. As long as you don’t pour water on it or soak your mop, you will be fine.

Where to Buy Hickory Floors

Hickory boards, planks and engineered hardwood flooring can be found virtually everywhere. If a shop sells wood flooring, they will most likely have hickory.

Various brands, styles and options may only be found in specialty stores or even online at sites like Amazon. However, big box stores, and home improvement stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot and even Walmart will carry some versions and brands.

Be wary of any shop selling discount hickory, though. You should expect to pay about $3 per square foot at a minimum, and even then, you are getting lower end quality. If you see budget prices on hickory flooring, you should inspect it and ask a lot of questions before buying.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq guide to hickory flooring

In this section we will answer the most common questions about hickory hardwood flooring. If you have other concerns or questions, please use the comment section below the article.

Q. How much does hickory flooring cost?

  1. The cost of the flooring will depend on a few factors. First you must decide if you want solid hickory boards or engineered hickory. Engineered is cheaper and easier to install, but isn’t as durable. Depending on board size, brand and type, you should expect to pay between $4 and $12 per square foot.

You then need to calculate or budget for installation fees. With old floor removal, subfloor repairs, and any additional needs during the install, you can add $3 to $8 per square foot added to the cost of the wood planks.

Q. Is hickory flooring worth it?

  1. If you plan to install in a wet area (bathroom, laundry area, basement) then you are better off going with a luxury vinyl plank (LVP) or tile. However, for almost every other room in your home, you will find that hickory stands the test of time and is easy to clean and care for.

Q. What kind of warranty can I expect from hickory flooring?

  1. The warranty coverage will depend on the brand and style. For higher end brands you can expect a decent warranty term up to and even exceeding 25 years. There are a few lifetime warranties out there, too. Most warranties will cover defects, damage and fading while others will also include wear and tear, scratching and even dents.

Conclusion

Hickory is a sustainable hardwood that is grown and harvested right here in the USA. With over 12 species native the northern Americas, you can find locally grown or sourced materials without much effort.

Hickory is durable, long lasting and easy to care for. With little effort and only a moderately high installation expense, you can have a floor that lasts decades. Choosing the right tones, colors and styles is a chore in itself, though, as there is a lot to go through.

However, once you find a brand, quality and style you like, we are sure you will love the floor in your home.

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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