Oak is the most popular wood flooring choice with homeowners. This may have something to do with its extraordinary durability and longevity. You can find oak floors that are in perfectly decent shape in 100-year old houses – or even older. And wrap your mind about this: 2 or 3-century old reclaimed oak wood is still usable and charming. Yes, if you take the reclaimed wood path, your floors may end up older than the nation.
The tree itself has an imposing character. Tall, massive and imperial, the oak tree can live for hundreds of years, competing even with the age of your antique floors. Oak wood is plentiful in the United States and makes for a green domestic choice, since oak tree reserves are continually replenished with new trees.
There are two types of oak wood that are used in the flooring industry: red oak and white oak. To be exact, these names refer to two groups of trees, rather than specific species. Red oak designates a category of woods that includes water oak, pin oak and yes, red oak among others. Similarly, white oak is a category that rounds up species such as Bur oak, English oak and, of course, white oak under the same name.
Here a few characteristics of these groups.
Boasting pinkish tinges, a coarse texture and striking grain patterns, red oak is a wood with character that lends your space traditional charm. The dramatic grain has its practical side too – it makes scratches less visible. If you want a subtler look, choose a clear grade for a more uniform appearance. Rustic grades bring you closer to nature, especially when using wide planks with visible knots and variations in color. Due to the fact that red oak is very dense, the wood is easy to stain. Red oak has high porosity, which makes it more susceptible to water damage. Slightly less expensive than white oak, it is also more abundant and sands better.
From white to light tan to brown, white oak may have slight olive undertones and is easily recognizable because of the longer rays (the dark streaks that go with the grain). It is even easier to stain than red oak, which gives you fairly predictable results and great color options. Because of its closed pores, the wood is highly resistant to rot and decay. This makes oak wood floors the perfect choice for humidity-prone areas like your kitchen. In fact, white oak is used in boat construction and is the perfect material for barrels, casks and outdoor furniture. White oak is resistant to insects and fungi because of its high content of tannic acid.
Oak has a very dense structure that makes it very durable and appropriate for high-traffic areas. The wood is shock-resistant and does not split easily. White oak is denser and heavier, with a 1360 Janka hardness rating to red oaks 1290. However, both white oak wood floors and red oak wood floors take wear very well. Here is a piece of trivia: because of its popularity, red oak is considered the standard when comparing the hardness of different species of wood.