When it comes to flooring, walnut is considered one of the highest-quality domestic woods available to homeowners. Since colonial times, this material has been used not only to give homes a premium look, but it has also been coveted for its acoustic qualities, making it a premier wood in crafting musical instruments. Because of this, rooms that feature flooring or other treatments made from this material tend to produce fluid sound that reflects the richness of the look of the wood.
Walnut was especially popular on the East Coast in Federal- or Colonial-style homes, as this material was widely available during the 1700s. The wood also lent itself to the elegantly carved balusters, newels and handrails common in this style of architecture.
Unlike many other woods native to the U.S., walnut is less prone to shrinking or warping because of its very solid structure. As well, this material is generally more shock-resistant than most woods used for flooring, making it an obvious choice for heavily trafficked areas of the home, such as the staircase.
On top of all that, walnut is also relatively easy to work with using hand and power tools. This allowed the wealthiest homeowners during colonial times to feature richly carved, sculptural pieces in their homes made out of walnut.
The tonality of this wood is quite dark, with heavily shadowed grains throughout that give it a particularly distinctive look compared to other species. As this material rarely has sap pockets, it polishes extremely well, producing a natural sheen when darkly finished that other varieties can't possess. Many homeowners don't even need to apply a layer of stain to give this wood a rich coloring, as a simple clear-coat finish suffices in making the natural hues stand out.
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