As far as domestic hardwoods are concerned, walnut flooring often plays second fiddle to oak and cherry. Walnut is generally considered in a more formal setting. Visually, walnut flooring is known for a darker appearance, one that contrasts and clashes with certain aspects of a space if planning isn't done in advance.
Character Walnut hardwood flooring is composed of contrasting shades. The heartwood takes a chocolate brown color characterized by swirls of dark and medium browns. This is juxtaposed with the off-white or tan color of the sapwood taken from the outside of the tree. Because of this color combination, walnut flooring is rarely stained. Most who add the hardwood into their home simply add a clear water or oil based polyurethane finish to prevent damage.
That's not to say that walnut can't be stained. Although a darker stain may obscure the hardwood's notable pattern, the fluid quality of the grain allows the wood to absorb stain better, which results in a smoother finish.
Walnut is a medium-density hardwood, with a 1010 rating on the Janka scale. Although most domestic species are rated higher, walnut is still durable enough to handle the wear and tear of pets and young children.
Introduced to your home, walnut flooring gives a space a new character. Planning for the space often needs to be done beforehand, as the darker color of the flooring can give the room a sharp but unwanted contrast or a somber character. Pairing it with white walls or furniture is one recommendation. As the darkest domestic hardwood, walnut can get darker over time, and the room or space should be planned in relation to this.
Walnut flooring only needs minor maintenance to keep up its appearance. No chemicals or special cleaners need to be used, and wiping down the wood regularly with a dust-mop is recommended. Water, in general, should be kept away, although the occasional cleaning with a damp cloth can be done.
As a domestic hardwood, walnut flooring is sold in solid and engineered varieties. Unfinished solid walnut flooring is ideal for giving a room a new character, while engineered walnut flooring is best for spaces with radiating heat.