When you decide to use hardwood for your floors, you will find one of the most popular choices is oak flooring. Oak is a wonderful wood for flooring being both strong and beautiful but there are also many varieties of oak. White oak flooring is one of the most attractive woods to use in your home. White oak floors, when left in their natural state, develop a slightly darker patina over time but they are not as sensitive to light as other woods and retain their original characteristics for the most part.
Is White Oak Flooring actually White?
You may be forgiven for thinking that a white oak floor will be almost white but that is not the case as natural solid white oak flooring is a pale golden brown shade (see the image below). You may be thinking of limed oak flooring where the planks have been “limed” with a bleaching agent to give them their pale color and chalky white effect in the grains. In fact, natural white oak is often stained a darker shade as it accepts color so well. A bit disconcerting when you see a mahogany colored white oak floor!
Are These Floors Expensive?
White oak wood flooring is around the low to mid-range point when it comes to hardwood prices, but, of course, like every hardwood floor it is not cheap. You have to see it as an investment in your home, in some ways, as it is the kind of purchase you only have to make once, unlike carpet which you need to keep renewing every few years. Also, you will notice that white oak hardwood floors are an attractive feature when it comes to selling your home. They add value, so they may end up being a bargain after all.
If solid oak is out of your price range there are a couple of options to get the look of oak flooring without the high price tag. White oak laminate flooring is available in most of the good quality laminate ranges. Of course, this will not look exactly the same as solid wood but you can get very close to the real thing with the best laminate floor brands such as Armstrong Swiftlock laminate flooring.
You could choose to buy engineered white oak flooring. Whereas solid oak planks are usually between 15 and 18mm deep, engineered flooring has a layer of oak of about 5 to 6mm deep on top of a very stable thick base of layers of wood and fiberboard glued together, giving an overall thickness of board of 20mm or more. This engineered wood is better in some ways than solid wood as it does not twist or warp or get so affected by changes in heat in humidity. In fact, good quality engineered planks are recommended over solid hardwood where underfloor heating is being installed.
Choices In White Oak Flooring
Other than choosing whether to buy solid or engineered flooring, you may also need to choose the grain pattern of your wood. Flooring suppliers may or may not offer a choice between straight grained and quarter sawn timber as straight grained generally results in more planks from the same amount of wood and is cheaper to produce. You will definitely be offered a choice of plank width and color however by most suppliers. Narrow planks of 2″ give a very different look from white oak wide plank flooring, so take a look at some brochures before making your choice. Similarly, think about whether you want to keep the natural color of the oak or go for a different shade. Finally, you may be offered prefinished or unfinished white oak flooring. With prefinished wood flooring a tough polyurethane or urethane coating is added at the factory and all you have to do is install your floor. Although it is more expensive than unfinished, you will have to do a lot of work to “finish” a white oak floor including sanding it, getting rid of the resulting dust, staining it (if required) and adding your own clear protective coating.