How to Choose From the Different Types of Old Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring has been a popular flooring option in American homes since colonial times and for good reason. Walking into a home with old hardwood floors is like taking a step back in time. Hardwood floors in old homes add character and warmth to any house.

Whether you are trying to identify your home's old hardwood floors or looking to install old hardwood floors of your own, selecting the perfect floor can feel overwhelming if you don't know where to start. In this guide, we'll walk you through the types of old hardwood floors so you can find the best flooring for your space.

Types of Old Hardwood Floors

Old hardwood floors come from trees that are hundreds of years old. Many times, old hardwood flooring features wide plants that are thicker than modern wood floors.

Most of the hardwood floors you'll see in old homes fall into one of the following species of wood.


The American Chestnut tree is known for its warm brown color. This type of wood was popular because it wasn't hard to process and holds stains well. Chestnut wood also doesn't rot easily.

If you come across chestnut floors in your house, consider yourself lucky. Many chestnut trees died out from disease a hundred years ago. You will be hard-pressed to find chestnut wood floors in many modern homes.


Hundreds of years ago, white oak trees were easy to access. This made white oak a popular hardwood floor to use in older houses.

One of the trademarks of white oak is its lighter wood color. People could stain this wood to whatever color they wanted.

White oak is a rustic wood. It has a rich grain pattern and a rustic, uneven texture.

This hardwood is also very resistant to wear and tear. The only downside of this wood is how hard it is. People with primitive technology sometimes had a hard time sawing through this hardwood, making them turn to a different wood for their floors.


Another popular old hardwood flooring material is maple. This wood has a neutral color and impeccable strength. Although there are several types of specials of maple trees, the most common maples used for flooring are the black maple and the sugar maple.

Maple is such a strong wood that it is the wood of choice for older bowling alleys and gym floors. Maple trees are also easy to find in America. This makes them a more affordable hardwood flooring choice.


One of the most dramatic hardwood floors used in old homes is walnut floors. Walnut wood floors are dark and get more beautiful with age. It is also one of the best hardwoods at repelling bugs.

Identifying Types of Old Hardwood Floors

Picture this: you're working on fixing up your old house and find gorgeous hardwood underneath a grungy carpet. While this discovery may be exhilarating, it can be confusing to know which types of hardwood flooring materials you are working with.

Here are a few tricks to use to identify the different kinds of hardwood in your home.

Wood Grain

The biggest clue to what type of hardwood floor you have is the wood pattern of the planks. Look at the growth rings and wood grain. Natural hardwood has grains that are easy to see and don't have a perfect pattern.

The distance between the grains can help you figure out what type of wood you have. For example, grain that is easy to see and close to each other is a trademark of maple wood.

Take a Closer Look

If the wood has a dark stain on it, you may want to take some of the stain off. Removing the stain will help you figure out what color and grain the wood underneath is.


Once you have an area of the wood floor that you can see without too much stain, take a picture of it. You can do some research to figure out what species the wood you have uncovered looks closest to.

Use databases online, do a reverse image search, or call your local professionals to help you identify what type of wood you are working with.

Replacing Floors in Old Homes

Although old hardwood floors can withstand a lot, they aren't always salvageable. You need to inspect your floor to see how much of it you can save.

Do a Thorough Inspection

Take a look at the entire floor. The big warning signs are when you have many wooden plants that are cracked or broken.

Check to see if you can see any old nailheads in the wood. If you can, it means people before you have sanded down the wood a considerable amount. The wood floor may not be thick enough for you to refinish it again.

Another warning sign is water damage. Look for stains or any rotted areas. If you do have this problem, you may not be able to salvage your floor.

Salvage Wood Parts

When it comes to replacing floors in your old house, you may not need to do as big of a job as you think. Often, if the damage isn't too significant, you can replace a portion of your hardwood flooring.

Call the Experts

A floor installation in an old home is a tricky business, especially if you are matching old hardwood to a newer plank to salvage your floor. If you are in this situation, it's best to call in the professionals. They have the knowledge and skills needed to match your floor and make it look as good as new.

Bring Your Home to the Next Level When You Choose Old Hardwood Floors

You don't have to have an old house to get the charm of hardwood flooring. There are many types of old hardwood floors that you can replicate with newer materials. Using new hardwood, your house will have the warmth and character that this wood gives without the headache of repairing it.

If you're in the market for hardwood floors, National Floors Direct is the place to shop. We use our over 75 years of flooring experience to help you get the floors of your dreams. Contact us today for a free in-home flooring estimate!