Oak flooring is the #1 choice for hardwood floors in the US. Let’s have a look at the reasons why. We’ll also discuss the two types of Oak – Red & White.
Wide variety & Affordable
Oak is widely available in the US where it grows abundantly. A diverse range of raw or prefinished Oak planks with varying colors, textures & sizes are offered on the market. Styles include new, antique, reclaimed, wire brush, distressed and hand scraped.
The vast supply makes it available at an affordable average price. The price for Oak varies widely depending on the supplier, brand, style & finish. You can find Oak under $1 a square foot on up to $20 a square foot. So there’s prices to match anyone’s budget.
Durable & Long Lasting
Red Oak, the more common type of Oak, has a hardness rating of 1290. This has become the industry standard for comparison of other hardwoods. The hardness of Oak is an ideal balance which is durable yet easy to work with. The hardness makes it resistant to dents & scratches. It gives the wood dimensional stability – resistance to warping. Changes in temperature & humidity causes wood to expand & contract. This can cause gaps and warping.
Oak is hard enough that it stands up well to these conditions. At the same time it is not too hard. The more hard a wood is the more difficult it can be to work with. Cutting, nailing, staining & sanding/refinishing become more challenging. The more work involved, the more expensive the installation cost. So Oak has an ideal hardness for all practical purposes. It lasts a lifetime & increases the value of a home.
White Oak is harder with a hardness rating of 1360. It’s a little more durable and it’s rot resistant. It’s even used for outdoor furniture.
The other difference between Red & White Oak is in color & grain. Red Oak has a pinkish hue and a more obvious grain pattern which hides dents & scratches well. White Oak has a more yellowish tone and subtler, less busy grain giving a more uniform look.
Besides these differences, all the beneficial characteristics are shared by both types of Oak. As for the price comparison, both are always fluctuating. Sometimes one is more than the other. Generally speaking there’s not any major difference in price. Wide plank White Oak is an exception which has become more expensive with a growing trend in popularity.
Easy To Refinish, Stain & Match
Oak is easy to to sand & refinish, making your floors look new again. It absorbs stains well & works with a wide range of colors, making it practical to change or match colors during refinishing. By matching you can expand an oak floor to other areas now or later. This helps the area to look bigger when rooms have uniform, matching floors.
Both Red and White Oak stain well and are even beautiful with no stain & simply a clear coat of sealant. Most stain colors work with well either, though grey stain is an exception and goes best with White Oak.
For Red Oak a Dark Walnut stain is popular for the way it highlites the grain. Though it’s harder, White Oak is a little easier to stain yourself, though generally finishing work is best left to a professional. If you’re looking to install it yourself there’s tons of prefinished options. Installation is easier & you’ll know exactly how it will look.
Another major reason why Oak is so popular is because it’s suitable just about anywhere. It fits well with mostly any setting & decor; and it can be used in any room. For Bathrooms or basements White Oak or engineered Oak are recommended for high resistance to moisture.
Solid Oak & other types of Oak Flooring:
Solid Oak is the most popular choice of Oak, however there are other variations of Oak flooring such as Enginnered Oak & laminate. Engineered Oak is constructed with a solid Oak plank adhered to a durable backing making it suitable for places where there’s moisture like, bathrooms, kitchens & basements. It can also be refinished at least once but not many times like solid Oak. Laminate Oak flooring is a simulated product made to look like Oak with a 3D photographic image. It cannot be refinished.
Lots of Pros, Very Few Cons
There’s very few reasons not to choose Oak flooring. Sometimes people prefer something more uncommon than Oak. Or sometimes something more sound insulating than wood flooring is required. And any type of wood floor over the years may develop some gaps or creeking due to expansion & contraction with changes in temperature & humidity. Though overall Oak holds up well to such conditions. However, generally solid wood flooring should not be installed below grade or in high moisture areas like bathrooms. Though for most rooms Oak is a #1 choice in flooring.
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