I'm trying to pick out engineered flooring for living room and dining room - floating type - as it's going over concrete. I prefer the look of walnut over oak but heard that oak is more durable.
All wood will scratch and dent. Durable is not in the conversation when taking about wood. Wood gains character over the years of use. It is not a piece of furniture.
Just by your question, I can tell right now no matter what you pick, it is not going to meet your expectations for durability. Have you ever owned a home with wood floors???
Floorguy, maybe I didn't phrase my question correctly. How about "what's are the advantages or disadvantages of one over the other--oak vs. walnut" Walnut seems to cost more, but I also heard that it dents and scratches more easily. I'm not worried about normal "character" aging.
Walnut is a finer-grained species, so will show wear much faster than a wilder-grained one, such as oak.
Specie selections from within the same manufacturer line will perform similarly. Your choice then becomes what you want your floor to do to your space aesthetically.
Be aware that many finer-grained wood floors are given a furniture-like finish and dents and scratches become evident very quickly...nature of the beast.
I think you might be referring to the Janka hardness scale, where walnut is not as hard as Oak. All wood is going to show some evidence of wear as the years go by. Some just faster than others. There are 100 yr old Pine floors that still look and function beautifully, even though Pine is considered a "soft" wood (and I'm not talking about Heart Pine, which is harder.) Really, it depends on what kind of look you want.
Walnut is a darker wood and thus looks more formal. Oak can be stained light or dark (or not at all) and so can take on different cosmetic looks. Quarter-sawn White Oak looks quite different than flat sawn White Oak, again because of the different graining.
Look up "Janka scale" in Google. And then I suggest you just keep researching Walnut flooring and Oak flooring and look at lots of samples. When you have it narrowed down to two, buy a box of each and lay them out in your room so you can see a larger area of each under the normal lighting in your house. It will be the best $$ you spend in trying to figure out which one is the "right" one for you.
Since you're doing a floating floor, I would also keep in mind that you won't have the luxury of refinishing (most likey) so a harder wood such as Oak should theoretically hold up longer. Walnut is on the softer side. Also look at Brazilian Cherry or Brazilian Teak (Cumaru) for darker woods that are quite hard on the Janka scale.
Hope that helps.
The janka scale does not apply to engineered floor. The top veneer is no match for such pressure. The inter plies on engineered are not always the same species as the veneer. IN fact most of the Chinese stuff, is made with soft plies(rubber wood, balsa wood and a host of other cheap, throw away wood) How is that going to play on your janka scale?
It is the finish that gets scratched, and dropping almost anything, furniture legs, or high heel spikes is what is going to dent it.
Floorguy, on the BR-111 site, it says their 5/16 engineered wood is no harder than red oak even when using woods more than twice as hard as oak. But it says that their thicker veneers come close in hardness. I am thinking that the finish on top and the thicker veneer helps with scratching based on my tests but I see your point that they can not be as hard as solid wood.
Would the Triangulo Version of the Brazilian Cherry (2880 Janka) with a 3.6 MM Wear layer on top, be at least harder than red oak ( approx. 1260 Janka rating)?