In basic form, walnut hardwood is all about contrasts: a deep, almost purplish-brown heartwood juxtaposed with white or light tan sapwood. However, the contrast can detract from space’s overall atmosphere, and rather than complement, it turns into the focal point. As a result, higher grades of exotic walnut flooring have an evenly dark appearance. Rather than hardwoods with too much heartwood selected by manufacturers, lumber is steamed, causing the heartwood’s color to bleed into the sapwood. This way, homeowners have a choice of fully dark or contrasting hardwood.