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Is Cherry A Hardwood? Types, Facts & FAQ

cherry wood

Cherry is a popular flavor of soft drink, but it is also a type of wood that has been around in America for centuries. Cherry trees are mainly known for the delicious fruit they produce but they also are great commercial sources of versatile wood. Is cherry wood a hardwood? If so, how hard is it? Can cherry wood be used as flooring? Cherry is an American hardwood.

This quick overview will go into the details of the appearance, strength, and workability of cherry as well as the best uses for it. We go over the pros and cons of using it as flooring and give some recommendations on how best to use cherry in your home.

wood divider Cherry Wood Overview

Cherry is an American hardwood that is known for its rich red color and straight grains. Cherry typically starts out as a blonde color when it is first milled and generally darkens over time if it is exposed to sunlight. Darkened cherry has a deep red-brown color that is often seen in older homes. Cherry is easy to find, readily available, relatively affordable, easy to work with, and has medium-density and overall good properties. Cherry is a common hardwood that is extremely versatile due to its widespread availability, good color, and workability.

Cherry As Flooring

Some people love the look of cherry floors. Cherry has been used extensively as flooring in American homes, especially early American homes. The beautiful richness of the red color appeals to many people. It is a warm flooring with straight grains that looks great in small areas, rustic homes, and traditional designs.

The only problem with cherry is its relative softness. American cherry scores 950 on the Janka hardness scale, which measures the overall hardness of various species of wood. 950 is a fairly low score which shows the softness of the lower density cherry planks. Oak, another popular flooring material, scores over 1250, which shows how much harder it is than cherry.

A stack of cherry wood tied up
Image Credit: Jumpstory

If you do decide to use cherry wood as a flooring material be sure to keep it out of high-traffic areas and away from heavy furniture. Cherry won’t make a good dining room floor because the heavy table and the constant walking and scraping will inevitably lead to dents or scratches. Cherry will do great in small spaces with less traffic than in main areas. Places like guest rooms, libraries, offices, and dens would be perfect for cherry flooring.

The other downside to cherry is that it is expensive. It is not the most expensive hardwood on the market, but it is more expensive than some of the newer engineered hardwoods and more expensive than some more common woods such as oak and pine. If you don’t mind investing a little more for classic warm tones and a traditional appearance, then cherry can be a great flooring in certain situations.

Different Types of Cherry

It is important to note that there are different species of cherry that have different density and hardness ratings. Most American cherry comes from American black cherry trees and has lower hardness ratings than other American woods like oak. There are other species of cherry that hail from different places, like the Brazilian cherry, which is much harder than American cherry wood. Brazilian cherry, for example, is nearly four times as hard as American cherry. Be sure to check and see what subspecies of cherry you are looking at before purchasing them for flooring.

If you are buying cherry in North America and there is no label or distinction or the salesperson does not know exactly what species of cherry it is, always assume that it is the softer American cherry. American cherry is much more common than other cherry woods. Cherry wood that is imported is considered an exotic hardwood which is different from local hardwood.

If you really like the look of cherry and want to put it throughout your home, it might be better to look into getting an exotic variety with better hardness scores than American cherry. Doing so will cost some extra money and might be more difficult, but the results could be exactly what you are looking for.

Cherry Birch
Image By: MabelAmber, Pixabay

Other Uses for Cherry Wood

While cherry is marked as a common wood used for flooring, flooring is not the most common use for cherry wood. Cherry is more often used in furniture making than it is as flooring. Cherry is a common wood used in furniture such as wooden chairs and tables as well as cabinetry. In fact, cherry is one of the most popular woods for real-wood cabinets. Cherry polishes extremely well without the use of any stains and is very easy to work with which makes it a top choice for carpenters who like to build things out of real hardwood.

wood divider Conclusion

Cherry is a hardwood with a long history of use in America. Cherry can be great for flooring but is also great for cabinets and other furniture. American cherry is not a super hard wood and there are other exotic varieties that are harder and might be better for flooring. That being said, American cherry is readily available, easy to work with, and has been used as flooring for many, many years.

Featured Image Credit: mahc, Shutterstock


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