A Quick Guide to Pine Wood Flooring: Pros and Cons of Southern Yellow Pine 

Pine wood floors guide | First Atlanta Flooring

If you have a client who loves a retro feel to their home or is looking to install new flooring in their log cabin or summer home, then Southern Yellow Pine might be a great choice for them. Although pine is considered to be a softwood, Southern Yellow Pine is quite hard, and very durable, requiring low maintenance. It’s an ideal choice for low- or moderate-traffic homes, but is commonly used in commercial properties, as well. Below you can find the biggest pros and cons that any specialist should be aware of before recommending pine flooring to a client. 

The pros of Southern Yellow Pine flooring

Let’s first go over the pros of installing Southern Yellow Pine floors in a home or a commercial building. For most homeowners, pine will be a great, affordable, long-lasting option, requiring minimum maintenance and a small budget. However, there are some things to be aware of in order to ensure your pine floors last a lifetime.


Although pine is known as a softwood, if installed, finished, and maintained properly, it can last a lifetime. To get a picture of just how sturdy this type of wood can be, know that it is actually used to build wooden roller coaster rides in the U.S. It’s also not uncommon to have 100-year-old flooring in commercial institutions and facilities, that’s just how durable pine can be. 


As we’ve already said, pine is a softwood, however, Southern Yellow Pine is considered to be the hardest of the softwood varieties. Although it’s not as tough as Red Oak, which has a 1,290 rating on the Janka hardness scale, longleaf pine boasts an 870 rating on the hardness scale, while the shortleaf and loblolly pine varieties have a rating of 690. That’s not too bad, considering that mahogany has a rating of 800, and cherry has a rating of 995. 

Another important thing to note is that, although it’s a softer type of wood, pine can handle nails and other inserts incredibly well, and will not split in the process like other wood types. 


One of the biggest advantages of installing pine flooring in a home or an office is related to pricing. While Red Oak, White Oak, and Cherry can be quite pricey, Southern Yellow Pine is one of the most affordable varieties on the market, and can even be cheaper than vinyl or engineered alternatives. Installing pine flooring in a residential space can cost anywhere between $1.50 to $2 per square foot, while other types of wood will start at $2.50 to $5 per square foot. Southern Yellow Pine is grown domestically in the Southern part of the U.S., so it’s easily accessible, making it a great option for homeowners and commercial owners alike. 

Low maintenance 

Another big advantage of Southern Yellow Pine is its low maintenance. Of course, just like any other kind of wood flooring, it will require periodic sweeping and vacuuming to remove dust and dirt that might cause damage. And, depending on the traffic volume, it might require a fresh coat of polyurethane every 5 or 10 years. Protecting it from dust and grime, installing carpets or covers, and ensuring the wood will not get scratched by shoes, pets or furniture will help pine wood flooring last a lifetime. 

Various finishing options 

In its raw state, Southern Yellow Pine has a warm and inviting golden or reddish hue, which is perfect for residential spaces, but also offices, to give them a more cozy feel. Southern Yellow Pine is heavily grained and patterned, making each plank of wood aesthetically unique. It can be installed without staining, which is a preferred option for rustic, cabin-type decor. The warm ruggedness of the wood is a perfect choice for winter lodges, forest cabins, lake houses or summer vacation homes, as it reflects the connection with nature. However, for a more even, streamlined look, pine flooring can be stained to resemble hardwood. In this case, the wood must be sealed before staining, as pine contains high levels of resin and sap. 

Cons of Southern Yellow Pine floors

While pine can be a great affordable option for homeowners in the U.S., and even commercial owners, there are certain disadvantages compared to other types of flooring. It’s important that any client who wishes to install pine flooring in their home or office knows the drawbacks of this type of wood, and makes an informed decision. 

Prone to dents and scratches 

As a softer wood variety, pine is prone to scratches, dents, and bends, especially if used in high-traffic areas. If there are small children or pets around, the wood will require constant maintenance and protection via rugs, carpets, and protective feet on any furniture. Depending on the traffic volume, Southern Yellow Pine will need to be sanded, stained, and coated with polyurethane every few years. 

Discoloration over time

Another disadvantage of Southern Yellow Pine is that it can become orange in tone over time, especially if exposed to sunlight. For some people, the aged, distressed look that pine achieves over the years is appreciated, but it’s definitely not to everyone’s taste. Many finishing options will actually deepen the problem, leaving the floors with an undesirable ‘cigarette yellow’ color. 

Not suitable for high-traffic areas 

As we’ve already mentioned, Southern Yellow Pine is one of the most durable types of wood out there, used to build wooden roller coasters and utility poles. However, it might not be the best option for residential or commercial spaces with a lot of daily foot traffic. Pine is a softer, more flexible wood, and over time it can bend, which can be both visually and practically unappealing. For this reason, it’s best to use pine flooring in low- to moderate-traffic spaces, such as a two-person household or a small office. 

Requires periodic coating and staining

Southern Yellow Pine is sensitive to light, humidity, and traffic, and over time, it can become distressed, scratched, and bent. If installed in a high traffic area, it will require constant upkeep, including sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping. After a few years of intense use, pine flooring will need to be sanded, cleaned, sealed, and coated with a fresh layer of polyurethane, to keep it looking its best. However, any refresh can alter the hue and look of the wood, and not everyone will appreciate the retro/vintage vibe. 

Pine is sensitive to moisture 

Just like any other type of wood, Southern Yellow Pine, and pine in general, does not do very well in high humidity environments. Given that it is a softer type of wood that can bend more easily than oak or cherry varieties, it’s important to keep moisture away from pine flooring, and always ensure that cleaning is done without over-moisturizing the planks. It’s best to rely on sweeping and vacuuming to keep pine wood flooring looking fresh, and only use water-based products to remove food or beverage spillage and avoid staining. 

If your client enjoys the rustic, vintage, warm and inviting look of pine wood flooring, and doesn’t want to break the bank, then Southern Yellow Pine might be a great option to recommend. It’s durable, easy to maintain, easy to install and refresh, and very affordable. If you’re looking to buy Southern Yellow Pine flooring in bulk, head to First Atlanta Flooring and check out our offerings.