What is an Oak Floor?

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  • Written By: Lou Paun
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Oak is a traditional choice for hardwood flooring that also has a contemporary feel. The beauty of an oak floor adds warmth to any home and creates a welcoming atmosphere. This hard, strong wood is durable as well as beautiful.

A white oak floor can be made with lumber from eight or more species of oak, but Quercus alba is the preferred species. In color, white oak ranges from pale gold to medium brown. It has a showy grain pattern with large wood rays, which is attractive when plain sawn and produces beautiful effects when quarter sawn. With a Janka hardness rating of 1360, it is an excellent wood for flooring. White oak is impermeable because of the tyloses in the pores of the wood.

A red oak floor can be cut from over 15 kinds of oak tree, but Quercus rubra is the preferred species in North America. Red oak can very in color from a light pink to a deep blood red, and lumber is usually sorted and matched for color. It is often rift cut to emphasize its showy grain pattern. It has a Janka rating of 1290. Red oak will develop black stains if water penetrates the surface.


Like other hardwood flooring, an oak floor can be laid in a variety of styles. A thick wide plank oak floor can be used for hundreds of years and refinished many times. Today, ordinary plank flooring or strip flooring are more common. Oak is also used in parquet flooring, where its beautiful grain patterns are highly valued. Oak veneer flooring gives the look of an oak floor at a reduced price.

Salvaged wood is used to create an antique oak floor. The wood may originally have been from a floor, or it may have been salvaged from old buildings such as warehouses, factories, or barns. It is valued not only for the extra strength characteristic of old-growth lumber but also for its beautiful color. Oak darkens naturally as it ages, and the color is so prized that fuming processes are sometimes used to imitate it in newly cut oak.

An oak floor should be cared for in the same way as other hardwood flooring. Because grit can injure the finish, the floor should be swept or dust mopped regularly. It may need daily cleaning in high-traffic areas. Damp mop as needed, and be sure to dry the surface after mopping. Clean up spills promptly. Protect the surface finish by using compatible cleaning products identified by the manufacturer.



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