White Oak Flooring
All hardwood floors need to be durable, and white oak goes above and beyond this. Accounting for 15 percent of all hardwood sold, white oak flooring is a durable, rot resistant, and dense wood with a closed cell structure or tyloses. This allows the wood to essentially be impermeable, which is why white oak is often used for barrels and in construction, shipbuilding, and agriculture. Additionally, white oak flooring is one of the harder domestic species, with a Janka scale rating of 1210lbf.
White oak trees generally have a long life span – some are currently 600 years old – and are found in eastern states and in Canada. Although several species of white oak exist, only eight are used for commercial purposes. The appearance of the hardwood is characterized by a light brown color highlighted with light pink or grey. The sapwood, however, has a cream color, and hardwood from both parts of the tree has a slight contrast. Aside from the grain, the wood is characterized by rays, which are seen best with quartersawn white oak flooring.
White oak is also characterized by open grain, which absorbs stains and finishes better. Nearly all stains and finishes enhance the appearance of white oak's grain, but lighter finishes are often preferred.
White oak flooring is sold in several cuts that enhance the grain. Although plain is most common for unfinished white oak flooring, quartersawn, rift and quartered, and rift cuts are also available. The wood, itself, is sold in unfinished and prefinished varieties for solid and engineered hardwood. Because it's a popular wood, several grades are available. Select and better is the highest grade possible for white oak flooring, with lower grades including common 1, 2, and 3 and character. These all have some variation in grain and may be dotted with the occasional knot.