Reclaimed elm vs hickory

sillybilly5December 28, 2010


I was hoping for some feedback on the options I'm considering for the hardwood for my house.

Some background info:

It's a french chateau/European style home so it's a traditional house. The kitchen, dining room, living room, great room, office, hallways and all bedrooms would be floored with it. The first floor is mostly open concept. There will be 7 people living here (2 adults, 5 kids - 6 months - 11 yrs old).

The options that I'm considering are:

- 5" hickory

- 8" or 9" reclaimed elm (depending on availability)

- 4", 6", and 8" reclaimed elm laid in random order

I'd be staining any of these on site in a medium-dark stain.

Of course, you could suggest an option that's worked well for you too. That would also be appreicated.

I know the look is a personal, subjective choice, but I'd still like to know what you would choose and why.

My husband is worried that the reclaimed elm is a trend and won't look so great long-term. But he also finds the hickory a bit busy. He likes maple but I find it too bland for the amount of flooring that we'll require. We both don't care for oak even in the rift/quarter-sawn version. Jatoba was considered but I don't want a red undertone in the wood so this option is out.

Cost is a factor for us, but I can get my three options for around the same price.

If you have reclaimed elm or hickory, I would love to know how you feel about it. What do you love about it? What are its disadvantages? Any regrets?

Any feedback/opinions would be much appreciated. I need to know asap since my stairs installers want to know what to order for the treads.


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Either one stained a medium - dark would become far less busy. Have the installer / finisher make a few samples. You may consider ash along with the elm. They are very similar.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 6:22PM
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Thanks woodfloorpro,

There's a great hardwood store close by that has all sorts of hardwood in various stains and widths, including a good variety of reclaimed woods. Elm is the least expensive among the reclaimed and I also happen to like it. We compared our options in the medium-dark tones in the store. I'm still unsure about which I'd like more in our space. A 2x2 sample board is a far cry from seeing a huge space done in my hardwood choices.
In your experience, which of these two options vary in colour more when a darker stain has been put on them? I've seen stock photos of hickory and the way the boards have absorbed the stain varies a great deal. Has that been your experience? In the store we went to, the hickory and elm planks had absorbed the stain in the same manner (ie, the planks were consistent in colour). So I'm not sure if this should concern me. My preference would be not to have big variations in colours. I'd prefer it be a fairly consistent stain throughout the space.
I'm not sure why, but I don't think I saw much out there in ash. But I'll look the next time I'm at the hardwood store.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 2:19AM
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