There is no doubt that oak is one of the most popular hardwood flooring options.
The incredible lifespan of oak wood makes it an investment that delivers value for many years. Knowing the two oak species is necessary for determining which type of oak should be used for your floor based on its aesthetic characteristics.
Choosing the right oak flooring that compliments your lifestyle and design goals is vital if you wish to buy flooring that will last a lifetime. Interior designers, contractors, and homeowners often choose between American oak and European oak as their flooring options. When a room is newly renovated, large areas of wood flooring are determined by a number of factors. Read on to discover the main differences between the two stunning oak species.
Differences Between European White Oak and American White Oak
European oaks are hardy temperate hardwoods native to most of Europe. The species is the same as what is commonly referred to as English oak. Oak paneling of this style was quite popular in England during the era of wood paneling, and it can still be seen in renowned structures such as the House of Commons debating chamber in London.
On the other hand, originally from eastern North America, the American oak is a temperate species. This species of oak has a long history of being used to make barrels for American wines and liquors.
In color, both species resemble white oak. Almost like honey, European oak’s color is golden. The color of American oak is paler, with a more pink tone.
European oak wood flooring in its natural state is more likely to have a more equal tone between boards, while American oak wood flooring will have more color variation between boards.
One of the reasons oaks live so long is their high tannin content, which works as an insecticide. Tannins are the pigments responsible for the distinctive color of grains. Smoking or fuming oak wood can enhance its appearance despite its natural grain being not very contrasting. In this way, the naturally pigmented tannins come to the surface, creating a stronger contrast.
Characteristics of Grain
The most noticeable visual difference between these two types of wood is the grain pattern. American oak has a densely packed, linear grain that is rather difficult to notice. The sweeping lines of American oak wood flooring will create more color interest than the grain, with more color appeal anchored in the underlying hues of the wood rather than the grain.
European oak, on the other hand, is known for its wavy patterning and a sprinkling of pips and burs. While European oak wood flooring has a more constant overall tone, it has a lot more variety in terms of grain patterning.
Board Strength and Movement
Comparatively to its American equivalent, European oak is considered hard, hefty, and powerful by professional floor layers, which means it will be less likely to expand and contract when combined with a solid, constructed core. Upon completion, the floor will show few signs of movement, splits, and cracks. European oak gives lasting strength and durability to floors in rooms where there is likely to be more moisture, like bathrooms and kitchens.
Board Length, Width, and Thickness
Since European oak trees grow taller and their sapwood is wider and thicker than normal American oak, European oak floorboards are often used. If you want to make sure your room has the best structural setup, you should select long and wider boards.
It is particularly suited to different finishing options when it comes to European oak. A polyurethane finish is usually applied to American Oak either prefinished or applied on-site. Polyurethane will need to be refinished over time, usually by removing the old polyurethane finish and applying a new coating. The procedure is both time-consuming and can be expensive.
Moreover, European Oak contains more tannin and less sapwood and absorbs stains in a much more consistent manner. When exposed to reactive stains, fuming, and aging processes, it reacts quite well. American oak contains more sapwood and has less tannin.
Chemically dimming the tannins in wood darkens it. European Oak smokes beautifully, resulting in a deep, dark, almost walnut hue. It is also possible to fumigate American oak, although the results are less reliable.
Oak and Broad – Providing European & American Oak Flooring
Whether you prefer European oak hardwood flooring or American oak hardwood flooring, the choice is mostly aesthetic.
At Oak & Broad, our team of specialists is always available to assist you in making the best choice for the oak wood flooring of your dreams.
To learn more about the possibilities for your future oak wood flooring project, contact Oak & Broad now!