Oak is the most popular domestic wood used for flooring in the United States. There are over 60 different varieties that grow across the United States meaning oak can come in several different looks and colors. The two most common types used for flooring are the red and white oak trees. Both make good choices for flooring because of their stability, price, and durability. If you are thinking about redoing or adding new floors to your home, oak has several benefits over other types of woods.
Oak comes in a variety of colors ranging from a light beige to brown and red. The same tree can display different colors throughout. The inner heartwood tends to be darker than the outer sapwood however this is not always the case. Often the heartwood and the sapwood are the same color while oak, over time, usually darkens. It tends to take on more of an amber hue as it is exposed to UV light and oxygen.
One of the benefits of oak compared to other hardwoods is its ability to easily be stained. Because of this property, it can brighten a room with its light color or even be as dark as walnut. This ability to be easily stained allows the consumer to choose from several different color options. Most other popular types of wood do not stain as easily and force you to live with the color of the wood.
Oak is a dense hardwood with white oak scoring a 1,360 Janka score while red comes out at 1,290 Janka. White and red oak wood is denser than other popular hardwood floor types such as black cherry, black walnut, and yellow birch. Because of their hardness, both types are more resistant to scratching and denting than other popular wood flooring choices.
Oak has several unique grain characteristics depending on the species. Red and white oak are both generally straight-grained. The pores in white oak are completed sealed off by tyloses, outgrowths of cells that prevent damage to the tree. Red oak, on the other hand, has open pores. Both types also have rays that run alongside the grain. In red oak, these rays can look like dark dotted pencil lines. In white oak, these marks are usually longer.
When it comes to flooring, stability refers to the wood’s response to moisture levels by either shrinking or expanding. Of the most popular American domestic wood floorings, oak is one of the more stable options. It does not shrink or expand as much as hickory or maple wood flooring.
The maintenance requirements for oak are largely based on how the wood is finished. If sealed properly, it can withstand moisture better than other species of wood. However, it is not recommended to let water sit on top of the wood for long. If your oak flooring is engineered wood, then it will withstand exposure to moisture better than solid wood planks.
For more information, click here to see our Care and Maintenance guide.
Oak usually cost between $3.99 to $9.25 per board foot. The price difference between red oak and white oak varies depending on supply and demand. Sometimes red oak can be more expensive, and at other times white oak can cost more. The size of the boards used for the flooring also affects the price.
Oak is one of the most common types of wood flooring. The benefits of oak over other types of wood make it the top choice for flooring in the United States. Because of the harder grain of oak over other types of wood, it stains easily and evenly. This staining ability leads to numerous color options for the homeowner to choose from that aren’t available with other types of wood flooring. You can choose almost anything from a light natural color to a dark wood finish like black walnut.
Because it takes less time for oak trees to mature (around 20 years) and they are more abundant throughout the United States than other species, their price tends to be lower than other types of hardwood flooring. Also, installation tends to be easier than other woods because the grains of the individual oak planks are easier to match up with one another than other hardwood flooring options. Their better stability over other types of wood also adds to the ease of installation.
When it comes time to choose a type of wood to use for flooring, the numerous color options and lower cost make oak one of the best options.