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Anyone who has ventured into the world of hardwood flooring would have noticed that there are ample species available to complement all tastes. Starting near the beginning of the alphabet, we have Ash.
The Ash tree comes from the olive family Oleaceae. These trees are usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous although a few subtropical species are evergreen. They can most commonly be found throughout the Eastern United States and make up 4.6 percent of all commercially available hardwood in the U.S. market. Size wise, they range in height from 80 to 120 feet with diameters ranging from 2 to 5 feet. The seeds, popularly known as keys, are a type of fruit shaped like a winged dart. This particular type of wood is most commonly used for furniture, flooring, doors, architectural millwork, cabinets, paneling, tool handles, baseball bats, hockey sticks, billiard cues, windmills, tennis rackets and skis. Ash is also used for food containers because the wood has no taste. Regarding its use in flooring, Ash takes well to nailing, staining and gluing. It also dries easily while maintaining a high level of performance. Part of this is due to the fact that it is very strong for its weight thus making it shock resistant and conducive to molding into new shapes.
Beech is a deciduous tree in the family Fagaceae, which is native to temperate Europe and North America. In the United States, Beech trees are most common in the eastern, central and mid Atlantic states. This particular species grows on a wide range of soil types, ranging from acid to basic. The tree canopy casts dense shade and dense leaf coverage to the ground below, as the average height of the tree is 120 feet. The leaves of beech trees are 5-15 cm long and 4-10 cm broad. The flowers are small and produced in the springtime. The Beech tree’s bark is smooth and light gray while the fruit is a small, sharply angled nut known as cupules. They are edible although one may not actually want to eat the nut as they are bitter due to the high tannin content (approximately 50 nuts may make you ill so they should not be eaten in larger quantities). Beech wood makes great firewood because it can be split easily and it burns for many hours with bright but calm flames. Excitingly, beech wood chips are used in the brewing of Budweiser beer as a fining agent. Not to mention, Beech wood is excellent for furniture and flooring. This is because it is heavy and strong making it resistant to shock while also making it suitable for bending and molding. Other uses include toys, food containers and liquid containers. Beech makes up 0.4 percent of all hardwoods that are commercially available in the Unites States.
The Cherry tree is native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with two species in America, three in Europe, and the remainder being located in Asia. It belongs to the family Rosaceae, along with almonds, peaches, plums, apricots and bird cherries. In the United States, the tree most commonly grows throughout the Midwest and the Eastern states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and New York. While this particular species is not that tall compared to the Ash and Beech, it does average about 60 to 80 feet in height. More impressively though, the trees can live to be 150 to 200 years old. The wood of the Cherry tree ranges from rich red to reddish brown, but it will get darker when exposed to light and also with age. Aesthetically, the wood has a fine and uniform grain that looks satiny and smooth. Cherry is easy to nail and glue making it great for furniture making and for flooring. It sands and stains up quite nicely, while drying quickly and reaching a stable size after being fully dried. For this reason, it is also used for making cabinets, doors, boat interiors and musical instruments. Cherry wood comprises 3.9 percent of all United States hardwood that is commercially available.
The Maple tree usually grows in height ranging from 30-130 feet. Most of the species are deciduous, but a few in southern Asia and the Mediterranean region are evergreen. Many of the smaller species are usually understory trees while the larger species eventually become dominant canopy trees. The Maple’s root system is typically dense and fibrous. The flowers have four or five petals about 1–6 mm long. Maples flower in late winter or early spring, either with or just after the leaves appear. The flowers are green, yellow, orange or red. Some maples are an early spring source of pollen and nectar for bees. Hard maple is most commonly found in Wisconsin, Vermont, New York and West Virginia. Hard maple is the standard wood for cutting boards because it imparts no taste to food and holds up well, but Maple is also used in flooring, furniture, kitchen cabinets, table tops, toys and stairs. Maple makes up 4 percent of all commercially available hardwood in the United States. And a last interesting factoid, a single sugar maple tree produces up to 12 gallons of sap a year.