Many common products – some of which may be around your home – are made from hickory wood. Known for a hard, stiff, and dense character, hickory wood is also shock resistant. These combined qualities have allowed hickory to be used for tool handles, bows, wheel spokes, golf club handles, carts, and walking sticks. At one point, hickory was even used for baseball bats. In your home, however, hickory is used typically for cabinets and hardwood flooring.
As a domestic species from the Southwest, hickory flooring has a tan to reddish-brown color, although this may be juxtaposed with a white to cream color. The reddish brown color comes from the center of the tree, while lighter shades are present in the tree's sapwood. Hickory hardwood flooring sold with these two shades is usually described as "calico."
In addition to the wood's durability and color, hickory flooring has a tight grain, which limits the finishes and stains that can be used with the wood. After unfinished hickory flooring is installed into your home or building, you should allot one to two days to complete the finishing. First, the surface of the wood needs to be sanded and, after, should be conditioned. This closes any imperfect grain and reduces like likelihood of blotches. Stain can be applied at this point.
Gel and light stains are both acceptable to be used with hickory, as they will highlight the contrasting grain. Darker stains, however, hide this aspect. After the stain is applied, a coat of polyurethane finish can be added to the wood with a foam applicator. The grain needs to be even after the stain has dried, and a floor polisher is needed for this. More than one coat of finish may need to be applied, and, after this point, you'll need to finish and polish the surface until the wood suits your tastes.