Hardwood floors never go out of style. However, homeowners looking to install hardwood have hundreds of options to choose from. Two of the most popular are acacia and walnut.

But which one is the better choice overall for your home?

Both natural hardwoods have their merits and downsides. Ultimately, the right wood depends on your personal preferences and needs. For example, acacia is tougher, so it may be better for high-traffic areas in your home. But walnut offers a richer, darker appearance that you may prefer for your living spaces.

Below, we’ll explore acacia versus walnut in-depth so you can determine which hardwood is the winner for your next flooring or furniture project.

Overview of Acacia Wood

Acacia is an extremely dense and durable hardwood that comes from the acacia tree, of which there are thousands of species worldwide. The acacia tree is native to Africa but has now spread to many other continents. If you are considering acacia wood, it’s important to note that the climate in your area may affect its performance and maintenance needs over time.

Acacia rates very high on the Janka hardness scale, ranging from 1,700 to 1,750 depending on the species. This makes it one of the hardest woods in the world. The wood has a straight, coarse grain with a fine texture. It has a light yellowish-brown color that darkens over time. Acacia wood is naturally resistant to decay and moisture. It requires no chemical treatment. It’s harder than many common hardwoods, including oak, cherry, and walnut.

Due to its hardness, acacia wood is difficult to work with. Special tools are required to cut, sand, and finish the material. But the payoff is durable furniture, flooring, or millwork that lasts decades.

Acacia’s natural durability makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Common applications include:

  • Boats
  • Cabinetry
  • Decks
  • Doors
  • Fencing
  • Flooring
  • Furniture
  • Tool handles

Overview of Walnut Wood

Walnut comes from deciduous trees in the genus Juglans. There are over 20 species found throughout Asia, the Americas, and parts of Europe. Like acacia, the climate in your region is an important factor when considering walnut wood for your home.

Walnut has a straight, open-grain pattern that produces an attractive, flowing look. The color ranges from creamy white in the sapwood to a dark chocolate brown in the heartwood. Walnut stains very evenly compared to lighter woods like top-rated laminate floors. It has a Janka hardness rating of 1,010, making it slightly softer than acacia. The wood is naturally decay-resistant but benefits from finishes to protect it. Walnut machines well with hand and power tools.

The two most common species used for lumber are black walnut and American walnut. Black walnut is heavier, harder, and darker than the American variety.

Walnut wood has been a top choice among woodworkers, carpenters, and furniture makers for centuries. It brings an elegant, rich look to any setting. 

Popular uses include:

  • Cabinetry
  • Flooring
  • Furniture
  • Gun stocks
  • Musical instruments
  • Paneling
  • Turned pieces
  • Veneer

Durability and Hardness

Regarding durability, acacia has a slight edge over walnut. Its dense grain makes it harder and more scratch-resistant. Acacia rates very high on the Janka scale at over 1,700. It holds up exceptionally well to heavy foot traffic and everyday wear and tear.

Walnut is also durable, but not to the same level as acacia. It rates at 1,010 on the Janka scale. Walnut resists dents and scratches better than softer woods like pine or maple. But it can show marks over time under heavy use.

Both kinds of wood gain long-term protection from finishes. Acacia and walnut should be sealed to prevent moisture damage, staining, and UV discoloration from sunlight. However, they do not require harsh chemical treatments, thanks to their natural decay resistance.

When finished properly, acacia and walnut floors can last 50+ years with minimal maintenance.

Maintenance and Care

Caring for acacia or walnut floors involves simple steps like:

  1. Vacuum or sweep regularly to remove gritty dirt.
  2. Clean spills quickly to prevent stains.
  3. Use felt pads under furniture legs.
  4. Limit direct sunlight with window coverings.
  5. Keep indoor humidity between 30% and 50%.
  6. Recoat the floor every three to five years to renew the protective finish.

Acacia is the lower-maintenance option of the two. Its harder density means it better resists scratches and dents. Walnut requires a bit more care since it can show marks more easily. But overall, both woods are easy to maintain.

Neither material requires special cleaners or excessive maintenance. With basic care, acacia and walnut floors will keep their like-new appearance for decades.

Cost Differences

Walnut is generally more expensive than acacia — sometimes significantly so.

Reasons for walnut’s higher costs include:

  • International demand: American black walnut is exported globally due to its reputation for quality. This high demand places upward pressure on walnut pricing.
  • Processing difficulties: Walnut lumber often contains sapwood and mineral streaks that must be culled out. Milling usable heartwood is labor-intensive.
  • Scarcity: Walnut trees take decades to mature. Prime-figured pieces are increasingly rare. Limited supply allows mills to charge premium rates.
  • Wider color variation: Walnut exhibits a lively, varied grain pattern compared to acacia’s more uniform appearance. The distinctive look commands a premium price.

Depending on species and grade, expect to pay $4 to $11 per square foot for unfinished acacia flooring or lumber. Walnut typically ranges from $6 to $13 per square foot — it’s easily 50% more on average.

Appearance Differences

Acacia and walnut offer contrasting aesthetics.

Acacia is pale yellow or tan. It lacks the lively grain patterns found in woods like oak or walnut. The look leans modern and minimalist.

Walnut is chocolatey brown in tone. Figured pieces exhibit flowing grain patterns like curls, waves, and burls. The look is traditional and elegant. Which aesthetic you prefer comes down to personal taste — there is no universally superior option.

For a lighter, casual style, many homeowners opt for acacia. If you are seeking a richer, upscale ambiance, walnut is an excellent match — or, choose one species for flooring and the other for furniture to enjoy the benefits of both.

So, Is Acacia or Walnut the Better Hardwood Overall?

There is no definitive winner in the acacia vs. walnut debate. Each material has advantages that make it best for certain applications.

For durability and everyday wear resistance, acacia is hard to beat. Its extreme density stands up to scratches, impact, moisture, and decades of use. Acacia makes an exceptional choice for high-traffic flooring or outdoor furniture that endures the elements.

Walnut offers beauty and grace unmatched by acacia. Its varied grain patterns and warm luster give any application a touch of luxury. Walnut brings sophistication and elegance to furniture, cabinets, accents, and other detailed work.

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Source: Todays homeowner


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