Oak flooring: what to know beforehand

When it comes to interior decor, oak flooring is one of the most desirable traits that homeowners vie for. It’s held in extremely high regard and typically results in a soaring market value. So, let us delve into it and see what all the fuss is about.

Why Oak?

The term Oak flooring has become popular since Oak is the King of hardwoods, and generally considered to be one of the only worthy options by most homeowners for a wooden floor, regardless of whether it’s solid timber or an engineered product. Those that cannot afford wood flooring might simply opt for tiled chips or a terrazzo rather than throwing money on a cheaper form of wood.

Two types of Oak are employed for this purpose: White Oak and Red Oak.

White Oak is lighter in color and weighs marginally more. Both types have an incredible tendency to shrink which is why they must be properly seasoned beforehand.

However, Oak is not the only hardwood which homeowners can use. Maple, Walnut and Ash are also pretty popular, each having their own unique color. A lot of people prefer Walnut over Oak because of its darker color which makes it ideal for a darker finish. The reason being that most people prefer the wood to exhibit its natural color rather than altering it to fit their taste.

The assigned grade of the wood product is helpful in determining the quality of the wood. The higher the grade, the better the quality although that does not necessarily mean that it’s better for your particular needs.

Engineered flooring

What is the purpose of engineered flooring, you might ask? The reason is that wood is prone to natural changes. As the weather changes and the climate takes its toll, wood can either expand or contract. This often creates problems, whereas engineered wood planks, on the other hand, are bonded to other layers underneath the top most hardwood layer which prevent any undesirable movement.

This also allows engineered flooring to be bonded directly to concrete unlike solid wood which needs a plywood foundation beneath it.

Personal touch

If you’re the kind of person that likes to tinker with items according to your own unique tastes, obsessing over getting it “just right” then you should order raw planks that can be finished on site. This allows you to customize the flooring according to your will with regards to the sheen and sanding the topcoat.

A lot also depends on the skills of the flooring contractor you have hired and how coordinated they are with your mental picture and vision. That requires quite a bit of faith in another human being so be sure you want to take that risk.

Though On-site finishing has the added advantage of giving your floor a more seamless, uniform look without any beveled edges because of the collective sanding at the end.

If you prefer quick and easy installation, then order prefinished planks that can be put into place without much ado. There isn’t too much hassle with these because the sealant has already been applied and you have a complete product already at hand. This also allows you to color coordinate the rest of your house accordingly, even before the flooring task is underway.

Plank size

Hardwood flooring planks are available in certain widths. Traditionally they used to come in strips of two inches but now the range has increased all the way up to seven inches per strip. The wider the strips, the fewer you have to use to line your home interior. However, wider strips are much more expensive as compared to thinner ones because of the lack of seams.

Finish product

For a finish product, you can either select oil (which has been used in flooring for nearly a millennium) or polyurethane (a more recent development). Most old school folks opt for oil who prefer the softer, more natural feel. It also requires more maintenance but the good thing about it is that it is fairly easy to freshen up a spot if it gets damage without having to uproot a whole section or an entire plank.

Polyurethane is more worth the price of your buck if you’re thinking critically: greater resilience to damage and more resistant to stains, which makes it a desirable option for a large family with many kids. This is more a long-term deal, that hardly ever requires maintenance. However, if some part does happen to get spoiled then the refurbish process is quite taxing.


Our advice is to let a professional handle your flooring task. There is no rocket science to it but it does require a bit of finesse from steady hands. And since hardwood flooring doesn’t come cheap, you don’t want to risk a mishap (to the floor or your hands).

Solid hardwood is a little easier to install because it can be simply nailed down against a plywood base. Make sure that the subfloor is clean and flat, but most importantly ensure that the doors can still open with ease as the extra layer can raise the level of the ground significantly.

Engineered flooring is slightly more challenging to install; the most common method is to glue it against the concrete but that is often problematic for people who don’t do this for a living.

The Tongue-and-Groove installation system is one of the most common. It features groove on one side and end of the plank and a tongue on the other. The tongues and grooves of adjacent planks align and fit into each other, disappearing out of sight once joined. This can be done either by glue-down, nail-down or floating techniques.


In many cases you may walk upon a floor at a friend’s house that may seem like hardwood at a glance but actually isn’t. A lot of people use Vinyl flooring which is technically plastic that is made to resemble wood.

Some people use Laminate flooring as well, beautifully disguised as engineered flooring. These are cheaper options so you might want to look into them.

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