Now, your selection process begins. As you start this journey, you will need to think about these three important questions:
With all of the variables in the hardwood flooring category, your first consideration should be the wood species. One of the most popular species of hardwood for interior flooring spaces is white oak. Many of our hardwood collections at Twenty & Oak offer a large variety of finishes and styles that begin with this versatile species. Let’s take a close look at white oak and you will see why it should be a strong contender for your hardwood flooring selection starting point.
Design compatibility might just be one of the top reasons that white oak is so popular. Compared with other species, white oak conveys authentic hardwood character, without the “busy-ness” of a high variation species. For example, hickory is also a beautiful, natural look, but the level of graining and natural, broad color spectrum may be a bit heavy if you have other focal points in your space you want to emphasize. High variation species might just create too much distraction. Here is an example of a hickory natural swatch versus a white oak natural swatch. Can you guess which is which?
Notice the emphasis on the color name – natural. These two products have not had any stain applied, but they are pre-finished, meaning they have been finished at the factory with a protective, UV-Cured Aluminum Oxide finish. All of the hardwood collections found at Twenty & Oak are pre-finished.
You can imagine how much more consistent a stain color would be across each plank when applied to white oak vs. hickory. So, high variation species are typically reserved for rustic collections or rich, dark colors.
Visual character is not all about color variation. Explore the product options that have saw markings, hand-scraping or wire brushing added for a rustic feel, without the distraction of multiple colors across the planks. Sheer stains and other surface treatments can also bring high style to an oak collection, as in the Au Naturelle collection from Hearthwood.
FRENCH OAK HARDWOOD
Although white oak is our best domestic species resource for a natural product that takes well to staining and other treatments, French oak is another qualified contender. French oak is actually sought after by winemakers for its tannin levels. Tannin levels determine how a stain reacts with the wood and French oak is preferred over white or red oak for its ability to capture rich, true color. You will notice a different graining in French oak as well. Tighter graining, with more of a cathedral look, is shown here in our Palmetto Road Tuscany collection in the color Marino. This French oak collection is elegantly wire brushed with pronounced color achieved by a smoking and antiquing process.
Red oak, considered comparable to white oak in many aspects, can also take stain slightly differently. This is due to the red hues in its natural color palette. Red oak does produce an incredibly beautiful result, but just don’t expect lighter stain colors to be very similar to white oak on the finished product.
DURABLE FOR YOUR BUSY HOME
Surprisingly, white oak has a respectable hardness rating, ranking just below hard maple and beating out walnut, birch and cherry. Red oak is slightly softer than white oak as well.
What does this mean for your household? White oak is a dependable choice to withstand the average household with busy lifestyles, children and small pets. However, the quality of the finish is what you really should be looking at, in addition to the hardness of the natural wood.
Hardwood flooring products that are pre-finished (finished at the factory) are certain to be more durable than a site-finished product. This is due to the ability to UV cure the polyurethane protective finish during factory processes in a controlled environment. This process also ensures that any chemical emissions from stains are at safe levels and will not harm the environment.
Do you have multiple pets, active teenage athletes or are you planning to use hardwood in your kitchen? White oak is still a great choice, but we recommend that you select from a rustic collection that includes wire brushing or hand-scraping. These visual options help camouflage everyday wear. Scratches are also much less visible on a matte or low gloss product versus a high gloss, shiny floor.
You can be confident that the hardwood products found at Twenty & Oak are backed by hefty 25-50-year finish warranties, with durability features to last a lifetime.
Somerset Handcrafted Collection in Royal Brown
AFFORDABLE AUTHENTICITY FOR YOUR BUDGET
White oak is the solution when quality must be a priority, but also when, realistically, you have a budget to keep. As a major component to your home, flooring is certainly not an area for cutting corners and settling for something you will regret. After all, it is a fairly permanent decision, unlike painting the walls or changing out window treatments. Your floors need to last through design changes over the years and stages of life, as well as appeal to a future buyer.
When you are building a home, or doing an entire renovation to include flooring, we recommend that you start budgeting with the flooring. Selecting white oak can be a financially conservative decision, but it is also a smart choice with benefits that pay off for many years. Would you rather replace your floors once with a product that lasts 50 years or more, or replace them multiple times with inferior dependability?
White oak is affordable, compared to most other species, because it is plentiful in the U.S. Responsible growers maintain practices that are governed and certified by agencies that ensure the sustainability of our forests. Our Environmental Certifications for Flooring and Sustainable Wood Flooring articles explain how the Twenty & Oak brands are committed to bringing quality products to you while meeting these certification requirements.
Use our product filter to take a look at all of the oak products offered at Twenty & Oak. White oak, French oak and red oak species can be found among our Palmetto Road, Veranda, Somerset, Raintree, and Hearthwood hardwood brands.