Are you planning on reflooring a room in your house, but you’re not sure which type of flooring suits your preferences? Perhaps you’ve seen oak flooring and knew right away it was the right flooring for you. Either way, oak flooring is a gorgeous option for your new floor and can greatly improve the overall aesthetics of a room.
What is Oak Flooring?
Homeowners have come to cherish oak flooring, one of the most popular flooring options available. You can purchase oak flooring as white oak or red oak, finished, unfinished, solid hardwood, or engineered planks. You can have your pick of stains, finishes, and plank widths.
As the name implies, red oak flooring has a distinctly rosy hue, in contrast to the gray/brown undertones of white oak. Oak is very accepting of stains, which you can use to change the color or hue of your flooring to match the aesthetics of your room. Keep in mind that stains on red oak will carry a rosy undertone, but the reddish hue diminishes the darker you go with the stain.
As with any hardwood, the look of the grain on oak will vary depending on how it’s sawn;
- Plain Sawn (flat) – grain design will vary
- Quarter Sawn – grain is uniform and includes ray flecks
- Rift Sawn – grain is uniform like quarter sawn but ray flecks are mostly undetectable
Quarter Sawn and Rift Sawn are more expensive than Plain Sawn, but it’s common to get a variety of all three cuts when purchasing new hardwood flooring. Wood stains will accentuate the grain, especially red oak since it’s more porous than white oak.
Pros & Cons of Oak Flooring
Oak hardwood flooring withstands the test of time, usually lasting an entire lifetime (up to 100 years!). Red oak has a Janka hardness of 1290 and white oak, 1360. Oak holds up well to high-traffic areas, but like any hardwood flooring can attain dings and scratches over time. If the surface acquires a “used” look,” you don’t have to replace it – you can simply refinish it to restore a like-new appearance!
Oak flooring is one of the more affordable flooring options, which likely contributes to its popularity. Generally, oak flooring is more affordable than other hardwoods such as hickory and maple. Since unfinished hardwood is a commodity in the US, the price per square foot frequently fluctuates.
Oak flooring is durable and affordable, but it is also quite common in traditional homes. While this factor may not bother some homeowners, others prefer a unique flooring option. If you’re planning to sell your home sometime in the future, oak is a dependable flooring option that appeals to the large masses.
Oak is one of the most stable flooring options available. Stability is a key factor in geographical areas with drastic humidity swings from season to season. We recommend using humidifiers in the winter and air conditioning with dehumidifying the basement in the summer to help control the expansion and contraction of your hardwood floorings. Since white oak is denser than red oak, it won’t expand and contract quite as much.
Oak Hardwood Flooring vs. Engineered Oak Planks
Once you decide that oak flooring is the right option for your home, you must decide if you want solid oak or engineered oak planks. The two differ in construction – oak hardwood is simply a solid plank of wood, usually cut with a tongue-in-groove design for installation. Engineered oak is constructed out of layers of wood and plywood and topped with a veneer.
Several pros and cons to consider with oak hardwood flooring and engineered oak flooring:
- Oak hardwood flooring can be refinished, but so can high-quality engineered oak planks when they’re manufactured with about 3-4 ml. or more
- Oak hardwood flooring doesn’t have to be replaced as often as engineered oak planks
- In general, oak is one of the most stable hardwoods, but engineered oak planks provide additional stability
- Both oak hardwood flooring and high-quality engineered oak planks provide relatively high resale value of your home; oak hardwood flooring may be slightly higher
- Both oak hardwood flooring and engineered oak planks have similar cost per square foot
- Hardwood flooring has a more involved installation process, requiring glue, staples, or nails and is most commonly done by a professional, whereas engineered planks can be installed DIY as a floating floor over the existing floor
When it comes to re-doing your flooring, your final choice really comes down to your personal preference. Oak flooring is a gorgeous option commonly loved by all. If you’re still not sure if it’s right for you, try our Hardwood Wizard to quiz yourself on general hardwood flooring options. You can also contact us if you have any questions or want to place an order!