Top 4 Hardwood Species for Commercial Applications

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Jun 20, 2023

Few other flooring options provide the depth of versatility and adaptability offered by hardwood flooring. When it comes to design, a beautifully finished hardwood floor sets the tone in any room. In a commercial setting, hardwood flooring offers a touch of class or a bold statement depending on the desired appearance. Read on to learn more regarding what species are best for commercial use.

Janka Hardness Scale

Like all living things, there are different tree species that offer varying attributes when processed into wood products, such as hardwood floors. When installing hardwood floors in high-traffic applications, it is important to know which species are capable of withstanding heavy use. The Janka Scale offers a trustworthy guide when determining what specie is best. The Scale rates hardwood based on the amount of pound-force required to insert a small steel ball halfway into a board.  It is important to note that the scale only refers to hardwood flooring, not engineered wood. To learn more about the difference between the two types of flooring, please click here.

Image provided by the NWFA

Brazilian Walnut and Brazilian Teak (Cumaru)

These imported hardwoods are ranked highest on the Janka Scale, meaning they require the most applied force for the steel ball to penetrate itself halfway into the board. These dense species hail from Brazilian rainforests, and both Brazilian walnut and Brazilian teak offer lifelong, durable service, even when faced with high foot traffic. Brazilian walnut is known for its darker color and is often finished with a glossy sealer that does not distract from its natural beauty. Brazilian teak, often referred to as cumaru, offers a lighter color that accepts a stain more easily, but offers a traditional hardwood appearance when finished naturally. Both woods offer muted grain patterns and knots that blend together for an understated classic look. No matter the interior design vision, Brazilian walnut and cumaru are up for the task, guaranteed to deliver exceptional performance with unique appearances.


Ranking towards the top of the Janka Scale, mahogany delivers beauty and longevity. It is ideal for installation in hotter climates, as it absorbs direct sunlight without fading and is less likely to warp when exposed to heat. Additionally, mahogany features fewer grooves and pockets than other species, simplifying the finishing and sealing process. Since its grain pattern is muted, mahogany’s interior fibers are structured closely together, leaving little room for excess moisture absorption. Similar to Brazilian walnut, mahogany is a quintessential example of elegant dark hardwood. Its dark color also means dust and debris are less visible, making it ideal for installation in dusty environments.


Maple is one of America’s most popular hardwood flooring choices, and it ranks in the middle of the Janka Scale. Despite its mid-tier ranking, maple is an extremely dense and exceptionally durable wood. As a testament to its abrasion resistance, maple is often crafted into butcher blocks, sport surfaces, and cutting boards. Maple’s understated grain pattern does not distract from interior design choices, and its light color amplifies sunlight in well-lit rooms.

With its signature lighter appearance, maple can be stained to personally tailor the look of a commercial space, or it can be sanded and finished with its natural color for an enhanced traditional light hardwood look. Due to its tight grain pattern, maple can be a challenge to stain, often resulting in uneven blotches. However, HyperTone stains’ unique water/oil hybrid technology easily penetrates the grain, guaranteeing your commercial space the best of both worlds: a quality maple floor with depth of color that reflects the desired décor. To learn more about staining maple flooring, please click here.

"HyperTone Stains' unique water/oil hybrid technology easily penetrates the grain, guaranteeing your commercial space the best of both worlds."


Known as the “king of hardwood floors,” oak shares a close spot with maple in the middle of the Janka Scale. Oak is an ideal match for commercial use due to its sheer versatility. It offers a wide variety of natural colors and grain patterns, is suitable for any design choices, and easily tailored to match its environment. Besides its famed longevity, oak is extremely resistant to insects and funguses, establishing it as a prime choice for installation in forested or wooded areas that are more likely to have pesky burrowing insects like termites. While oak is generally easy to stain and finish, certain species contain higher levels of a chemical called tannin, which can affect stain acceptance. To learn more about how to manage tannic acid when staining, click here.

Other Commercial Wood Flooring Solutions

Beyond the hardwood species listed above, recent construction developments have created additional options for commercial applications. End grain wood flooring has grown in popularity due to its exceptional impact resistance and durability. Defined by the exposed end grains from varying cuts of lumber, end grain flooring exposes the growth rings on the top wear layer of the floor. These tiles, which can be sourced from two-by-fours or cut in custom shapes and sizes, are rated for exceptionally high foot traffic and provide a unique look.


When installing any kind of hardwood floor in a commercial space, it is vital that the surface is properly finished. Basic Coatings offers a complete selection of finishes to protect your investment. Designed for convenience and practicality, Basic Coatings’ line of finishes feature fast curing times and low VOCs for safe application. Finishing your commercial floors with VersaSeal and StreetShoe® NXT provide the most durable protection, no matter the species or type of floor selected for the space. StreetShoe NXT offers industry-leading hardness measurements, making it a perfect match for wood species already offering superior strength. Combining the species rated on the Janka Scale with Basic Coatings will provide unmatched protection for decades to come.

If you are considering hardwood floors for a commercial or other space, click here to connect with a Basic Coatings certified contractor to ensure your surfaces are handled with care by someone with a passion for hardwood flooring. To learn more about Basic Coatings’ finishing options, please click here to browse our products.