American Walnut is a prized hardwood used for furniture, flooring, rifle gun stocks and even coffins. The heartwood of the walnut tree is dark brown to purple in color, while the sapwood is a white to creamy brown color. Some manufacturers will steam the sapwood to help make the color more uniform and consistent. The walnut grain is one of the most beautiful of all hardwoods, which is very close in structure to American Cherry.
Walnut Flooring is one of the most expensive hardwoods available, along with American Cherry. Many furniture manufactures get the biggest walnut logs and rotary peel them for furniture. This is why wide width long length walnut is so expensive. Flooring manufacturers are short on supply of large walnut logs, hence the higher price. Before you get a quote for walnut, make sure you know which grade of lumber you are buying. Straight grained (quarter sawn) is the most expensive; select is a little less expensive and character walnut being the least expensive.
Walnut when used for flooring is easily milled and takes nails and staples well. It is fairly durable and finishes well. On the Janka scale walnut is rated at 1010. If you have an active home with small children and or dogs and are concerned by denting, walnut should not be your first choice. A good alternative to American Walnut is Brazilian walnut. Brazilian walnut is much harder, more resistant to denting and is similar in color. The key to purchasing any type of hardwood flooring is to know its grading and inherent value, as well as its characteristics. Flooring samples do not always show all of the true colors you can expect within a given species. If you cannot make a decision based off a flooring sample, I recommend buying a box of material to inspect the grading and color before final purchase.
The Floor Man