Neutral, durable, and offering ease of installation, oak flooring is one of the most popular hardwoods. All brands carry several options for oak flooring: unfinished and prefinished hardwood, engineered and solid types, and even laminate. Red and white oak hardwoods are the most common, and each is characterized by an even appearance. Red oak is uniformly a light reddish shade, and white oak is tan, white, or cream-colored.
Oak hardwood flooring has open and coarse grain, which absorbs stain better. Ideal for sanding and machining as well, both species are durable but not too hard: White oak has a Janka scale rating of 1360, and red is 1290. Oak flooring, additionally, is resistant to splitting and shocks and has good holding ability.
Aside from color and durability, oak flooring is known for a pattern of rays. White oak's are longer and red's are more distinct, but each cut creates a different pattern. A plumed look results from a plain saw cut, and flakes or tiger stripes characterize quarter sawn oak hardwood. Rift sawn gives oak flooring a tighter grain pattern.
Brands may also carry hand scraped oak flooring. A manual technique used to give flooring a distressed or aged appearance, hand scraping later camouflages bumps, blotches, and scratches better and gives a room a rustic appearance. If you want the distressed look without using cabin grade hardwood, consider installing hand scraped oak flooring.
Certain brands, such as Armstrong and Bruce, have laminate lines which include oak flooring. Made without hardwood, oak laminate flooring imitates the appearance of wood and has gotten better over the years with sound and texture. Although laminate oak flooring does not have the character of natural hardwood, it can be installed above, on, or below grade, much like engineered.
Red and white oak flooring also have individual characteristics. 200 subspecies of red oak are found in North America, and the hardwood is ideal for bleached floors. White oak, on the other hand, contains a high concentration of tannic acid, which makes the hardwood resistant to insects and fungi.
Oak flooring has all qualities a homeowner considering hardwood needs. No matter if it is unfinished or prefinished, solid or engineered, oak flooring is durable enough to handle everyday wear and tear and complements every space with a tan, reddish, or cream-colored shade.