Dark stained woodworking has declined in popularity as contemporary woodworking trends change to lighter colours. Walnut, cherry and mahogany have been replaced by natural, whitewash and honey oak, with the latter being widely used. Honey oak ranges from a light amber to a rich golden colour. The neutral colour of honey oak lends itself well to almost any hardwood flooring.
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Hickory is a sought after hardwood. Its tight-grained pattern is a bit lighter than honey oak, but when a coating of lacquer or varnish is applied, it turns a slightly golden colour, matching golden oak very closely. Hickory, although having a straighter grain pattern, has light thin streaks of black mineral that give it a deeper look. Honey oak also has dark streaks, but they are more of a zigzag pattern. The two patterns compliment each other.
Alder is one of the softer of the hardwoods but also less expensive. Alder has a light brown colour, almost neutral. When finish is applied, it turns a slightly yellow colour with reddish overtones, which work well with the reddish-amber tints in honey oak. The two colours, although not a perfect match, will highlight each other and work together nicely.
Maple is traditional flooring. It is highly prized for its hardness and durability. Maple is always a good choice for flooring. Maple is slightly lighter in colour than a honey oak finish, but if you choose to use varathane, or varnish on the maple, it will turn darker and retain a golden colour. It will be slightly lighter than honey oak, but its neutrality blends it well with honey oak. Maple flooring will also darken over the years, and in time, become almost a perfect colour match to honey oak.
For the hardest of hardwood flooring, birch has the market cornered. Birch runs streaks of dark brown through neutral cream-coloured soft-grain. Soft grain is the part of the grain without any mineral streaks. The dark bands or streaks make up about one third of the grain pattern, and the dark streaks are much darker than the light soft grain. But the dark streaks add character and depth to the flooring. When a top coat of varnish or lacquer is applied, the lighter soft grain of the birch picks up the honey colour. The dark streaks then sink back into the overall pattern, lending a more complex look to the honey oak, maple paring.