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Choosing the Right Hardwood Species for Retail Spaces: A Guide for Businesses

Man installing a new hardwood floor.

A retail space is a dynamic environment, and your flooring needs to be prepared for high levels of foot traffic. When opting for hardwood in a business setting, the type of wood you choose matters if you want maximum durability and life from your flooring. 

Types of Hardwood Species for Retail Space Floors


Oak is a particularly hardy and durable hardwood species, which makes it a great choice for a commercial setting. Oak is the most popular choice for flooring because of its balanced durability and price. The two most popular types of oak flooring are white and red oak. While these woods have colors in their name, don’t let that fool you. Red oak does have a darker, reddish hue, while white oak is lighter in color, but neither is monochromatic. Both kinds of wood can also be stained to fit the aesthetic that you’re going for, altering their color slightly. Red oak has a more defined grain pattern, giving you a more rustic feel than the less grainy white oak. The oak species is a fairly hard type of wood, meaning it’s durable and scratch-resistant. Red oak hides scuffs and scratches better, which may pay off in a busy retail space. 


Maple is an excellent flooring choice for those looking for a natural, light-colored commercial hardwood floor. Maple is durable and has a tight grain pattern, which makes it resistant to sun damage. In a well-lit retail setting, this is an excellent perk. Nashville is no stranger to natural light, as many of the businesses in the city are full of windows and sunlight. Maple flooring is hard to stain dark as a result of its grain, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great choice for your retail space. 


Hickory is another popular choice for Nashville hardwood flooring, especially in commercial settings. Hickory is an incredibly hard and durable wood that is notable for its natural tones and unique rustic vibes. Hickory is not an easy wood to stain or shape, so it certainly isn’t for retail store owners with a more modern aesthetic. But if you’re looking for hardwood that has character, hickory is your best bet. Each plank of hickory looks different, and it’s extremely suitable for a vintage, turn-of-the-century look in your space. 

The Best Hardwood Option for Retail Spaces

Given the foot traffic businesses face, you may be wondering if hardwood floors are bad for retail stores. While hardwood isn’t usually the first choice for busy places with a lot of people coming and going, that perception is changing for a few reasons. Modern hardwood floors are often composed of engineered wood, (wood that’s treated and stained with chemicals that harden it and improve its durability). So, what is the best flooring for a retail store? Each option outlined above has its pros and cons, so it’s hard to crown a real winner here. 

In terms of pure durability, hickory is the clear winner. Hickory is strong, and its natural grain hides scratches and scuffs remarkably well. For those in search of a more modern hardwood, oak is likely the best bet. Oak is easily stained to match your interior design, and it’s still durable against foot traffic. Maple represents the middle ground between the two other wood species, with slightly higher durability than oak and a slightly less rustic feel than hickory. Each option can work in different spaces, so it’s important to consider your needs fully when shopping for flooring. 

No matter which flooring you pick for your Nashville retail space (wood or otherwise), Ozburn-Hessey is on board to help you from start to finish. Find out why countless commercial spaces have worked with Ozburn-Hessey for commercial floor installation and give us a call today.

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