Rift & Quarter Sawn White Oak Flooring
As a domestic species, white oak has high shock and wear resistance. The flooring sands well, has good holding ability, and features open and somewhat coarse grain. With a Janka scale rating of 1360, white oak is slightly denser than its red counterpart, and as an additional aspect setting it apart, it features a high concentration of tannic acid, a compound making the hardwood more resistant to fungi and insects.
White and red oak are sold in five grades: Select and Better, #1 Common, Character, #2 Common, and #3 Common. As with all species, grades vary with the concentration of character marks, such as knots and grain variation, but white oak particularly is additionally available in different cuts, which further change the appearance of the hardwood.
Typically, hardwoods are plain sawn, in which the log is cut parallel only. Visually, a plain sawn cut gives white oak a plumed appearance. However, this is not the only cut given to the species. Instead, rift and quarter sawn are radial cuts, with the former having a tighter grain pattern and the latter the appearance of flakes or tiger stripes.
Rift and quarter sawn white oak are each angled differently to the center of the log. For quarter sawn white oak, the growth rings are angled at 45 to 90 degrees to the surface of the board. Rift sawn white oak, on the other hand, is angled at 30 to 60 degrees.
Aside from the visual aspect, cuts to white oak have an added benefit: less warping. Although these options, typically found in older properties, tend to be more expensive, quarter sawn, particularly, warps less. While quarter sawn has no horizontal movement, making it the most stable, rift sawn has horizontal and vertical expansion. Plain sawn, out of all cuts, is the least stable, as movement occurs across the grain.