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Red & White Oak Flooring

Oak, one of the more popular choices for home flooring today, comes in two varieties: White Oak and Red Oak.

As you can tell by their names, these varieties are differentiated mainly by their color; red oak displays a lighter, pinkish tone; white oak, a slightly darker tone, leaning more toward browns, beige’s and even grays. Both varieties take to staining quite well which makes them a good fit for many styles and décors. Red and White oak also have similar grain patterns, though the Red’s grain is slightly coarser and more porous than White’s, giving the latter a smoother look overall. White Oak also has longer, sleeker rays than Red Oak, which contribute to its naturally smooth appearance.Nuances in grain patterns also make a big difference when it comes to adding-on, or ‘patching’, your oak floor.

You want to be absolutely sure that your installer uses the same oak variety (red or white) when adding-on to an existing oak floor. If not, you will end up with two very different looking floors and will need to start all over – a frustrating and expensive proposition. Another advantage of highly textured grains is that they tend to show fewer scratches, scuffs and dents. When you combine this with the durability factor, it is easy to understand why both oaks hold up especially well in households with high traffic areas and pets.

The established method for measuring wood durability in the United States is the Janka* Hardness Test. Janka uses red oak’s high rating of 1,290 as the benchmark against which most other words are measured. White Oak comes in about 5% higher, with a ranking of 1,360. You now understand why oak – both red and white – continue to be such popular choices for high traffic areas and in households with pets.Provided your floors have been properly protected – i.e. finished – by the manufacturer or by your flooring installer, provided each plank has been acclimated appropriately to the moisture conditions of your home prior to installation, and provided you carefully follow the maintenance guidelines provided by your flooring consultant, you should be able to enjoy your oak floors for a very long time

*The Janka Hardness Scale is the official and accepted measure of a woods’ natural resistance to denting and wear.

Resources: the Flooring;; Flooring America’s Online Univeristy

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