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Hardwood Flooring Product Profile: What Is Aspen?

BuildDirect’s Mazama label “Sunset”Aspen Hardwood Flooring.

Among the oaks, the cherries, the maples when it comes to hardwood flooring, there are many species of domestic hardwood species that are often left behind.

This is not to say that oaks, cherries, and maples can’t make for a solid and reliable basis for a stylish space. It would be ridiculous to suggest that.

But, let’s talk about aspen for a minute, a species of hardwood that has made its debut this week on our main site.

Aspen stats

Latin name: Populus (genus)

Janka hardness scale: 420 (very soft)

Common color spectrum: off white to light brown

Stability: Very

Aspen: a soft hardwood

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Aspen is not as hard as the middle-of-the-road oaks, cherries, maples. A ‘soft hardwood’ sounds like a contradiction in terms, right? Well, it’s not. Hardwood species are defined as being deciduous; they lose their leaves seasonally. So, their hardness can vary.

Getting back to aspen, it scores a pretty low 420 on the Janka Hardness Scale. That’s even softer than Douglas fir, which is a softwood (and therefore doesn’t lose its leaves seasonally – you get the idea). This means that if you’ve got pets with big meaty paws and claws, you may be looking at a floor that will become ‘distressed’ whether you like it or not.

Aspen wood is stable

But, where aspen is a softer hardwood, it is also noted for being extremely stable. What does this mean? Just this: aspen is less prone to expansion and contraction during temperature and moisture changes in its environment, as well as being less likely to warp, cup, or crown.

You still need to make sure that an aspen hardwood floor can move after you’ve installed it, of course. Every wood floor needs to move, no matter what species it is.  And you need to install it in an area that isn’t prone to extreme environmental changes, including higher moisture levels. But, aspen thrives in cold and moderate climates in North America, northern Europe, and in Asia, as a species because of its natural stability, if not because of  its hardness.

Fine grain patterns in aspen hardwood flooring equal a conversation piece in your space

If you are looking to create a space with a hardwood floor as a stylistic element, grain patterns in a hardwood floor add a lot of visual value. This is certainly true of an aspen hardwood floor, noted as it is for fine, detailed patterning unlike the more traditional choices in hardwood.

Here’s a close up of an aspen floor (actually our ‘Havana Sunrise’ aspen hardwood floor) to show you what I’m talking about.

Aspen hardwood color spectrum, ‘character’, and stain

Our most  recent aspen hardwood lines depicted above are stained floors. The natural color spectrum of aspen ranges from off-white to light brown. And as far as grade goes, ours are ‘standard’ grade. This means that if you’re looking for natural streaking, occasional small knotholes (always filled), and moderate color variation even taking the stain into account, this line might be worth your attention. These aspects are what the industry calls ‘character’; every floor is going to have different surface traits. That’s the beauty of a natural product all around.

Aspen is off-the beaten track

Choosing hardwood flooring is blessed (and sometimes cursed!) by how many options available. Each species has its strengths on offer. Aspen hardwood is off the beaten track. But, as we’ve seen, it’s ready for the right space, and the right vision for a transformed interior.

And to learn more about our newest line of products launched just this past week, check out BuildDirect’s selection of aspen hardwood flooring.



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