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Unfinished Oak Flooring

Neutral and durable, unfinished oak flooring comes in solid and engineered types. Red and white oak, two species part of every brand’s selection, are reddish and tan, respectively, and are characterized by open and coarse grain. Open grain is helpful for absorbing stains, and in general, unfinished oak flooring is easily installed and finished. In addition to being better for sanding or machining than other species, oak flooring has high shock resistance, durability, and split resistance and has good holding ability.

Unfinished oak flooring is known for rays. Longer in white but more prominent in red, these medullary rays are highlighted by light. When unfinished oak flooring is plain sawn, the cut gives the hardwood a plumed appearance. When quarter sawn, the wood has a tiger stripe or flake look. Rift sawn oak, similarly, has a tighter grain pattern.

As traditional flooring, unfinished oak hardwood gives you more options for experimenting with color in your home. After the floor is installed, you can test parts with different stains until you find the right look for the space. Like any other unfinished flooring, oak creates a seamless appearance when installed next to older materials and comes in longer plank sizes.

Standard grading is an additional benefit of unfinished oak flooring. Manufacturers grade prefinished lines, and their terms are descriptive for marketing purposes rather than consistency and appearance. Based on National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) standards, grading for unfinished oak flooring includes:

  • Clear – Hardwood with a uniform appearance composed primarily of heartwood.
  • Select – Almost uniform flooring with some natural characteristics.
  • #1 Common – More color variation and character marks, such as small knots and streaks.
  • #2 Common – Hardwood with more noticeable color variations, marks, and streaks.
  • Cabin – Value-grade flooring with distinct and ubiquitous character marks.

Solid unfinished oak flooring is a high-quality product. Installation involves adding the wood by staples or nails to a wood subfloor or creating a floor joist system. Unfinished solid oak, however, can only be added on or above grade, and if you want flooring for the basement, go with engineered unfinished oak. Made out of three to nine pieces bonded together, engineered unfinished oak flooring expands and contracts less from moisture and heat and can be installed over concrete or radiant in floor heat.

Quality, character, and precision go into and are needed for unfinished oak flooring. Installation and finishing do not happen in a day. If you plan to install unfinished oak flooring into a room, make sure you have several days set aside for sanding and finishing, and the area needs to be isolated and clean during the job.