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What’s the Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood Floors?

flooring wood installation cost

Hardwood, softwood, what’s the difference? If you’re deciding between installing hardwood and softwood in your room, you’ll want to know the difference so you pick the best wood for your space. For instance, if you install softwood in a high-traffic area, you risk replacing your floors prematurely as they won’t withstand everyday wear and tear. Thus, you can avoid paying twice the flooring wood installation cost by knowing the difference between wood types so you install the best wooden flooring for your room!

So read on to discover whether hardwood or softwood is best for your space!

Hardwood vs. Softwood

 Softwood Floors

Hardwood and softwood come from the tree species used: hardwood is harvested from deciduous trees that lose their leaves, while softwood comes from evergreens. The key difference between wood species is that hardwood is denser because the tree matures slower than softwood.



When homeowners think of wood flooring, they almost always think about hardwood flooring like hickory, maple, or oak. Hardwood is a denser wood due to its slow growing and drying time, which results in higher wood installation costs. Another key difference between woods is hardwood is more durable and resilient.

Hardwood flooring is ideal for busy households with pets or kids, as it can withstand wear and tear.


Softwood is a popular choice because the flooring wood installation cost is more affordable than hardwood as evergreens are more readily available and quicker growing trees. Softwood floors are typically made from cedar, fir, pine, and spruce. These floors also tend to be lighter in colour than hardwoods.

Although softwood floors are not as durable as hardwood, it’s best to use softwood in low-traffic areas to maximize longevity.

How to Decide Between Hardwood and Softwood Flooring

There’s never a point in installing the wrong flooring, as it’s a costly mistake, so let’s go through the key differences between hardwood and softwood to help you determine which is best for your space.


Which flooring is more affordable? The answer is hardwood because although the upfront wood installation cost is more because it is a denser, more durable wood, it has a longer lifespan. It also requires less in the way of regular maintenance. Softwood costs less to buy and install, but it will need more frequent repairs and refinishing, which means it has a higher “lifetime cost.”


Both hardwood and softwood require routine maintenance, but softwood will need more upkeep. If you’re curious about what your maintenance and cleaning schedule will look like, this is what you can expect:

  • Hardwood: This flooring needs routine sweeping and the odd damp mopping. To prolong the life of your floors, sand and refinish your floors when they begin to show signs of wear like scratches.
  • Softwood: Akin to hardwood flooring, softwood requires regular sweeping and mopping. The main difference is softwood is more susceptible to dents, dings, and scratches, meaning it will more require sanding and refinishing.


If you’re looking for the most durable wood flooring, you should go for hardwood as it’s denser, making it more resilient to everyday wear and tear. And if you maintain your floors with regular upkeep and the occasional refinishing, hardwood can last a lifetime. Softwood has a shorter lifespan as it’s vulnerable to dents and dings, but you can prolong its life with constant care.


One of the biggest factors to consider is aesthetics. You can have the most beautiful flooring installed by a professional flooring contractor, like the Brothers Flooring, but if it doesn’t suit your room’s style or design preference, it’s not worth putting it in!

So, these are some aesthetic differences between hardwood and softwood.

Environmentally Friendly

Suppose you’re looking for an environmentally friendly flooring. In that case, your best bet is softwood, as the source trees—evergreens—grow more rapidly than hardwood trees, making softwood flooring more eco-friendly. However, many hardwood flooring companies have diversified, selling wood from sustainably managed forests.

Hardwood or Softwood: Which Should You Choose?

If you dream of new wood flooring, you want to ensure you buy the right one to suit your space. Ultimately, wood floors can work well in most rooms in your house, but if you’re installing new floors in a high-traffic area, that’s when you should lay hardwood, as it can handle wear and tear better than softwood.

If you’re struggling to choose between hardwood and softwood and want a second opinion, don’t forget to call the Brothers Flooring for a free, no-risk consultation. We have over 20 years of experience, so we’re confident we can help you bring your wood flooring vision to life!

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