Differences in Hardwood vs. Softwood Flooring

If you’re planning to replace your home’s flooring, you may be wondering about the differences between hardwood and softwood flooring. While both types offer their own benefits and can last for many years, here are some distinct differences to note before you start shopping.

Origins and Appearance

Hardwoods and softwoods are so named for their physical composition. While we might think of hardwoods as being more dense and durable than softwoods, that isn’t always the case. While softwoods are generally more soft and flexible, they are sometimes denser than certain hardwoods but the wood’s durability depends largely on what type of wood you choose, regardless of whether it’s classified as hardwood or softwood.

Hardwood comes from angiosperm, or flowering plants such as maple, oak and walnut and softwood comes from gymnosperm trees like spruce or pine. Softwoods are far more prevalent, making up around 80% of the timber used around the world. All woods have distinct grain patterns, but hardwoods usually have colors like dark browns and reds or even white while softwood tends to have a yellowish or lighter red color.


Hardwoods are typically known as the more durable of the two, able to endure heavy traffic and last for much longer overall. Softwoods have varying degrees of resiliency, but are generally more prone to dings and scratches and will show more imperfections over time.

The finish also factors into a wood’s durability as well. Staining and sealing a softwood will add to its durability, and in a room like a basement or attic where foot traffic is less, it could last for a long time without a problem. Hardwoods come prefinished, but since softwoods rarely do, it affords you the opportunity to stain and finish the wood as you please.


Because hardwoods are generally denser and more durable, they are usually the more expensive option. Depending on the room in your house, though, softwood flooring could be the better and least expensive option. For rooms where foot traffic is high (kitchen, living room, bedrooms, etc.) hardwood flooring gives you the best value due to its durability. But for rooms where foot traffic is lower, a softwood floor finished and stained could last just a long for a lower cost.

If you’d like to know more about your options in hardwood and softwood flooring, call Jabara’s today at 316-267-2512 to speak with one of our flooring experts.