Oak Flooring

Oak flooring, unfinished or prefinished, will enhance your home’s look and value. Pre-finished oak flooring makes flooring installation fast and easy, but antique wood flooring adds character than you can’t get from “new” oak wood flooring products on the market today. Whether you choose red oak flooring or white oak flooring, your oak hardwood flooring decision can’t go wrong.

Once a mighty tree, now a mighty floor. That’s right, oak is one of the best and a common hardwood used in flooring. There are two types of oak hardwood; red oak (quercus ruba) and white oak (quercus alba).

Oak hardwood flooring is one of the more common hardwood floorings and is great for adding a touch of style and elegance to your home. Wooden floors also add a sense of warmth to any room, but what makes oak floors so popular?
Oak hardwood flooring advantages:

  • Easy maintenance and cleaning
  • Available in a variety of tones
  • Can be used in any room
  • Long lasting quality

Oak flooring also suffers from its share of disadvantages:

  • Heavy traffic can cause scratches and dents
  • Excess moisture can damage it

There are different grades of oak and these are determined by appearance. All grades are equally as strong and serviceable. These grades include clear, select, and common. A clear grade of oak flooring is generally free from any eye catching blemishes but can still contain streaks and pinworm holes. A select grade of oak flooring is almost clear but contains more natural color variations and knots. Of the common, there are two grades which have more markings and bring better character to floors.
Of the two types of oak, red is America’s most popular flooring option and is reddish in color with a coarse grain. It’s a dense wood and resists wear and tear but not as well as white oak. White oak is brown in color and has been known to have a grayish hue. The grain in white oak is similar to that of red but has more burls and swirls. White oak, with a Janka rating of 1360, is harder and more durable than red oak, which has a Janka rating of 1290.
Oak has been used for centuries in flooring and much of the antique oak flooring used today has been reclaimed from barns and buildings that were constructed hundreds of years ago. Antique oak flooring ages beautifully and gives a feeling of elegance to any room.
When looking at purchasing oak hardwood flooring it is essential to weight the pros and the cons. As you know, hardwood flooring can be quite an expensive choice, but is it worth it? In short the answer to this question is undoubtedly yes. The cost over the years will generally be less that than the cost of both carpeting, and maybe even tiling. On average, households replace carpets after ten years and vinyl and tiles after twenty years. Oak flooring, on the other hand, if properly maintained, will last a lifetime.
Of course, oak wood flooring is not without its faults, the main one being water. Excess moisture can damage this beautiful floor and therefore additional care is needed in bathrooms, laundries and around kitchen sinks. All spills should be wiped up immediately to prevent water from soaking in and warping your hardwood floor. Furniture glides should be used to prevent scratches. Regular sweeping and vacuuming will keep dirt and grit, which can act like sandpaper, to a minimum, limiting scratches. Using strategically placed mats and rugs can help protect your floor.
Oak hardwood floors that have been properly finished are the easiest of all floor surfaces to keep clean and new looking. Carpets will show wear and tear, regardless of the amount of vacuuming and cleaning that is applied. Carpets also retain dust and allergens, making wooden flooring and even better choice for people who suffer with allergies. In order to maintain the appearance of your oak flooring, vacuuming and dust mopping should be carried out often, weekly being ideal. A damp mop can be used for spills, but in general you should never use a wet mop and lots of water on wood floors. If your wood floor is waxed, an occasional buffing will help to renew the shine and remove any scuff marks. Oak flooring is know for its high permeability which makes it easier to stain and as a result oak flooring can be purchased in a variety of colors to suit any room in your home.
Oak hardwood flooring can make any room feel airy and more spacious and will give your home a feeling of warmth and elegance. When the mighty has fallen why not make use of it in your home.

36 thoughts on “Oak Flooring

  1. I am looking for a large quantity of 12 x 12 x 7/16″ thick white oak tiles for a very large project Are you able to provide this and in large volumes. Please contact me asap.
    Devery Padgett
    Vintage Building Products
    803.994.0064
    Also who do you get your Antique Reclaimed Heart Pine products from

  2. We have just put down 4 1/2″ w unfinished white oak floor in our home. I love the natural look just like it is and want to stay as close to it as possible. I also do not want any shine to my floor. I want all of this with the most durable and easily maintainable finish. We are building our home – we are using all reclaimed wood throughout. Wormy chestnut window trim, deep oil soaked heart pine (from a linseed or cotton factory) as window trim and door trim. Very tight grained heart pine (14-16″w) across top and sides of open entryways. Heart pine staircase. My kitchen cabinets are original early 1800’s step back cupboards & pie safes made of poplar and walnut. I want a primitive look and feel in my home, but not a “country” look. The white oak floor is in my kitchen also. I have read about tung oil, pure and modified, linseed oil, danish oil, water and oil based urethanes and waxes. Now I’m so confused – I’m afraid to pick anything. I’m giving you so many details in an effort to give you an idea of my style. If it helps any my favorite magazines for ideas are Early American Life,Early Homes & Old House Renovation. Floor installers in my area appear to be as unfamiliar as I am. They recommend picking Minwax in a preferred color and then use a clear gloss poly. I don’t think this goes in line with what I’ve described. Can you help?

  3. I am wanting to add hardwood in a newly “opened” area which has white oak hardwood that is approx 37-38 years old and is the 1.5 inch width – would it be wise to attempt to acquire reclaimed hardwood to better match up with the existing floor (i plan to sand and refinish all after adding the new area) – i will need an approx 200 sq ft of white oak to complete the project. Since this is now one open room the floor will now be one continuous floor (old and new) – is my desire to add hardwood a good/bad plan or should i consider another avenue?

  4. A note of interest: I put down 400 sq ft. of pre-finished oak flooring (25yr warranty/Armstrong)and w/in hours after installation was finished I noticed what appeared to be fine scratches on the surface where the sunlight shined in. I was down on my hands & knees and found they were not surface scratches, but something called checks. I had 2 independent installers say I must have gotten a bad batch (@least 30% of the wood showed these checks – not enough light on other parts of the floor to determine checks presence). No surprise Armstrong denied the claim when their rep. came out. There was no way the installer could have so finely scrutinized each board before installation. I worry that when I clean, using Armstrong’s recommended product, that the cleaner will penetrate these checks and ultimately ruining the flooring. Comments: Very carefully check your wood before installation. If anybody has experienced this, any advice? Thanks

  5. I see I’m a few comments behind. The challenges of travel strike again! I’ll reply to this “note of interest” post first, and then work my way backwards.
    I have found flooring companies to be “weasely” when it comes to bad batches of flooring. When my cork floor was declared a bad batch by the sales rep and Natural Cork admitted in writing it was defective, we still had to hire an attorney to get them to make good on it. I’d like to think Armstrong won’t be like that, but we’ll see.
    Did you buy the flooring from your installer, a flooring store or a big-box store? That may have to be part of your path of remedy.
    First, don’t use Armstrong’s recommended product to clean this floor. Vinegar water will work well to clean the floor.
    If you can’t get satisfaction on replacing the flooring, consider having it refinished so the new finish will seal the crazing and checks.
    Then visit a website I know called CrankyCustomer and write about your situation and how Armstrong handled your case.
    Sorry to hear of your problems. And yes, people need to check flooring products before installing them so they don’t get stuck with a manufacturer’s bad products.
    Let us know the results of your research and probing. Good luck!

  6. To Carol with the white oak question: I’m sure by now you have taken action, but for others in your situation I’ll reply.
    You could try to find a reclaimed white oak and hope it looks close to the floor you have, but it’s probably going to be different. So the challenge you face, in my mind, is do you have a floor that’s a little different or very different with a totally different type of hardwood? Without seeing the spaces you are working with I’m not sure I can answer that for you. And I don’t know your decorating style.
    So, I’ll vote for trying to find a matching white oak flooring and hope that after it and the original floor are sanded and sealed they match well. The challenge might be in finding the wood.
    If you can’t find the reclaimed white oak, go for something really different and make a statement with it, like putting a border around it with the same new wood and treat it like an area rug or focal point. You can do some fun, creative and cool things with different woods.
    Let us know what you did and how it turned out.

  7. To Sherry with the new home and the reclaimed woods, wow! What a great sounding house and combination of woods. It may be too late now, but if you want a natural and low-maintenance floor, don’t use MinWax in any color. Just seal the floor with a water-based sealant. My favorite is Diamond Coat Varathane Urathane (which I have found at my Home Depot) because it applies easily, dries quickly, doesn’t yellow as most oil-based products do, and it’s as hard as can be when cured.
    I hope you enjoy your new home with all those great woods. The home sounds elegant and the white oak floor should be the crowning glory — under your feet.

  8. I want to install about 1500 sft of oak wood hard wood, flooring. I am confused as the the one which suits my budget is having a less weight. Somebody mad a refrence saying that the flooring planks should be heavier than what the sample is. The sample is oak with 15mm thickness. kindly advise me on urgent basis.
    hnaks

  9. I’m not sure I’m following the situation here. Your sample will be lighter than an entire plank, assuming the sample is short, by virtue of being a piece of plank. It’s also lighter because it has been acclimating to your climate for longer than your flooring planks. I think you can go with the flooring you have chosen and be content.

  10. I’m also looking for the 1.5″ stuff. I had one person offer to mill it for me on a custom basis, but I assume they’ll be working from the 3″ pieces that are commoner today, and I’d just lose the width of half a hopefully thin saw blade on each strip, and it might have to be specially nailed since every other groove would probably be vertical cut rather than tongue and groove, though I’d still prefer original stuff. If you can find somebody who’ll do that for you, that might be one option.

  11. Your reply is not late! We had to stop working on the house for awhile, but we’re now back at it and the floors have to be done. Thank you so much for your response – I’ll let you know how we’re doing. (Even unsanded and unfinished, the floor is the first thing everyone comments on.)

  12. For those of you looking for 1.5 inch oak flooring, contact HurstHardwoods.com. I spoke with them yesterday and the rep said they have a supplier that carries that size (quartered and rift sawn).

  13. Hi I have a new 1400 square foot includings raw unfished oak flooring in my cabin.
    I would like a swedish oil or timberex oil type finsih.
    Do you know anyone in southern california who could do apply professional finish to the wood.
    William Hankins (800) 848-6881

  14. If you’re thinking about a traditional Swedish oil, be advised that they should only be used by professionals because of the dangerous unhealthy fumes, you’ll probably have to stay at the in-law’s while it’s being applied and during the off-gassing. These contain formaldehyde, a big environmental no-no (think FEMA trailers in the news) because of the health concerns of breathing in the fumes.
    The Timberex Gold is virtually solvent free – I think that speaks for itself right there.
    Copied this from their website, in case anybody else is also interested in this product:
    Timberex Gold is a virtually solvent-free product made from natural, fast-drying oils and resins which penetrate deeply into the wood. Filling and enriching thepores it cures to seal and protect from within. TimberexGold has up to three times the coverage of other oils andis very fast curing, making it ideal for sports halls, art galleries or private homes. Their website can be found at timberex.com.

  15. Please advise cost and lead time covering the following RFQ:
    1200 SF (REF: Willow Creek/Emquies Projects)
    Engineered Reclaimed White Oak
    Grade: Rustic
    Bevel: Radius
    T&G
    5/8” X 2-1/4”
    Long Lengths / No End Trim / No Defecting
    1200 SF
    Engineered Reclaimed White Oak
    Grade: Rustic
    Bevel: Radius
    T&G
    5/8” X 5”
    Long Lengths / No End Trim / No Defecting
    1200 SF
    Engineered Reclaimed White Oak
    Grade: Rustic
    Bevel: Radius
    T&G
    13/16” X 10”
    Long Lengths / No End Trim / No Defecting
    Note: Please provide samples for approval at your earliest convenience.
    Thank you,
    Ed

  16. I’m having to replace some 2 1/4″ white oak flooring in my living room that was damaged from a water leak from the kitchen and am looking for old boards to minimize the visibility of the repair. My flooring contractor tells me that new oak planks will not have the rich variance of grain as these 58 year old boards – there’s even some tiger striping. Can you offer any suggestions on where I might be able to find what I need?

  17. Hi Elizabeth,
    There are some people who specialize in ‘reclaimed’ flooring – and other reclaimed items from old buildings. You may be lucky and have somebody locally who does this. You might find it in your yellow pages under Building Materials, some areas it’s under Architectural or even Antique.

  18. I have made a terrible mistake. Recently I had red oak hardwood flooring installed in my great room and hallways. Unfortunately I did not see before hand what the final product would look like. Needlesss to say I hate the grainy look of the floor. Is there any way to minimize the grain without totally removing the floor?

  19. Hi Deborah,
    There’s not really much you can do aside from maybe putting a few additional coats of sealer/finish to help fill in the grain. This cannot be done though if you bought pre-finished flooring as polyurethanes will just make a mess of your floor – not to mention void your warranty.

  20. Hi- thanks for your question page. We just bought a house that has old red oak floors- we are taking up the carpeting, and the floors look like they have been refinished, in not too bad of shape. What is the best way to really clean them and care for them? lots of dirt and dust from the wall to wall carpet. thank you Lisa

  21. Hi Lisa,
    Lucky you! The bigger question is: do you think you will need to refinish the floors? If so, I wouldn’t worry too much about what you use to clean them if you’re going to strip them.
    If you’re not going to refinish the floors, you want to clean them with a product that is made for wood floors – but not something like orange-glo or other citrus based cleaners as they are a nightmare to completely remove and will ruin the finish you have now. Easiest thing to do is go to a hardware or home improvement store and check to see what they have.

  22. Donna,
    Are you looking for a wood that has a minimal grain? Sugar Maple is a wood that has a minimal grain to it and has more of a contemporary feel. It is a bit difficult to stain and will amber slightly when exposed to sunlight.

  23. My daughter bought a house where the oak floor has damage from where the nails to an old bannister had been as well as a gray area which I assume must have been water damage. The floors were finished with a clear shellac but the damage still shows. Will sanding and staining hide these problems or would the boards have to be replaced?

  24. Fran,
    I do mention in the article:
    Oak flooring also suffers from its share of disadvantages:
    * Heavy traffic can cause scratches and dents
    * Excess moisture can damage it
    I would consult a local professional as I am unable to see the stain or water damage. They can assess the issue and address your concerns.

  25. Hi I recently purchased red oak and had it installed all over the home. The installed had a young guy working for him and with his mallet to knock in the tongue and groove, hit too hard on many of the planks and now has bumps that are really driving me insane. I have called the installer and he said he would replace them for free but he has to cut them out with his saw and glue them in place. He has already done 3 and I can tell exactly where it was done. Should he redo the whole area it’s about 9 feet by 4 feet the area that has the most bumps and there are about 14 bump outs on the edge of the floor that show. What should I do??

  26. Sonia,
    That would be a huge disappointment after making the choice to install oak flooring. I am huge advocate for sustainability and the least amount of waste and it breaks my heart to hear that his solution is not working out. If he does decide to tear out and reinstall perhaps you could suggest reusing the pieces if it can still be done.
    Come back and let us know if he offers to reinstall!

  27. We recently built a new home and had red oak flooring installed. The floors were stained a very dark beautiful color. However, before the polyurethane was put on the floors, the cabinets were installed and mud was tracked all over the floors. I’m concerned that when the floors are finished, I will be able to tell where the mud traffic was and the floors will show scratchs. Are the floors damaged and can they be fixed even after the floor are sealed?

  28. April,
    I would be sure to use an appropriate wood floor cleaner, and clean the floor well before applying the sealant. There is a helpful article on cleaning hardwood floors at Cleaning Hardwood Flooring .
    You could also use StainSolver with a gentle brush to get into the grain, if there is mud in the grain.

  29. Hi- We are now in the process of having red oak flooring put in almost all of the common areas of our house. It is looking so nice we are thinking of having our front entryway (currently white tile) switched also to the oak. The house, although new, has a fair number of craftsman style design elements. If we do the entryway we are considering a simple design like a “picture frame” or a dark accent strip framing the rectangular entryway.
    Do you know if there is any kind of craftsman style entryway pattern we might adopt? The entry hall is 6′ x 10′. The alternative would just be straight boards like in the rest of the house. Any thoughts are appreciated!

  30. Mark,
    Decorating is a personal choice that is very hard to assist on, especially when not seeing the room or house. There are many online sites and magazines to browse through that offer decorating suggestions, you may see exactly what you are looking for.

  31. hiya
    got an oak floor, its getting very scratched and dirty in high trafficed areas.
    is there anything i can treat it with?
    Thanks very much
    Phil x

  32. Phil,
    If your wood floor is waxed, an occasional buffing will help to renew the shine and remove any scuff marks.
    If it is not, it is possible that the floor needs to be refinished/resealed in those areas.

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