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Is Oak a Hardwood? Types, Facts & FAQ

red oak wood

Oak is a tough hardwood, making it good for flooring. In fact, oak is one of the best wood types you can select for hardwood floors. When taken care of properly, hardwood oak floors can last hundreds of years. The only flooring that compares is Maple, but oak is more stable than Maple.

Keep reading to learn more about using oak as hardwood floor material. This guide will help you make the best decision for your floor based on wood type.

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Hardwood vs Softwood

In order to understand why oak is the best hardwood for flooring, you have to understand the difference between hardwood and softwood.

Hardwood is different from softwood in terms of grain color, hardness, and weight. In the context of flooring, grain and hardness are the two most important factors to consider.

In softwoods, the wood does not have vessels and is softer as a result. They also have a less pronounced grain than hardwood. Hardwood, in comparison, has a heavy grain that makes the wood much tougher.

Similarly, hardwoods are much harder than softwoods, hence the name. Because hardwoods are stronger, they are more scratch resistant and can withstand wearing better. With softwood, the wood can easily chip and get worn down in a short amount of time.

Because of these differences, hardwood is better suited for flooring and other items that will see a lot of wear and tear over time. Softwood, in comparison, is better for novelty items that need detailed work and will not be worn down as frequently.

Southern Red Oak_Marinodenisenko_Shutterstock
Image By: Marinodenisenko, Shutterstock

Is Oak Hard or Soft?

Oak is a type of hardwood. As a result, it is highly durable and super strong. At the same time, oak is very attractive because it can take on many different looks. Since there are different oak trees, you can find different-colored oak hardwoods. Oak often takes on staining well too, further allowing you to customize the look.

Oak – The King of Flooring

Most people agree that the best wood for flooring is oak. Oak is incredibly durable and attractive, but it is also relatively affordable because of how common the tree is. Oak flooring can be made from brand-new lumber, but it can also be made from salvaged wood due to its heavy use.

In other words, oak is more than good for flooring—it is actually one of the best woods you can select. Oak hardwood has been known to last 200 years and counting. What this means is that you can rely on your oak hardwood flooring to last a long time and be attractive at the same time.

Oak vs. Maple

The only other wood that sometimes beats out oak is maple. Maple is also a hardwood, but it has a more subtle grain pattern. This subtle grain pattern means that the floor will have a lighter, more natural finish and appear cleaner. Hardwood that is placed in open areas is often made for Maple.

Even though Maple may look more attractive in certain rooms, oak is still the best in terms of functionality. Technically speaking, Maple is actually harder than oak, but it is not as stable. As such, oak is best in terms of functionality and longevity when used for flooring.

oak wood
Image By: seagul, Pixabay

What Type of Oak Is Best for Floors?

Nearly all oak makes a great pick for flooring. You should select Red vs. White Oak based on the finish and color you want.

Red Oak is by far the most popular. It is highly available, and it is durable with a Janka rating of 1290. Red Oak has an attractive finish, and it is the Oak flooring most people think of. It is suited for almost all flooring needs.

White Oak is very powerful and hard as well. It has a more subtle color with lighter staining. If you want a less busy-looking floor, White Oak may be the better choice instead of Red Oak.

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Final Thoughts

Oak is considered one of the strongest hardwoods. Because it is so hard and reliable, it is actually one of the best materials for flooring. No matter where you live or what your flooring goals are, oak will likely be one of the top contenders.

Although maple is also a great hardwood floor, oak is still the most stable and reliable wood type for hardwood floors. Plus, you have your choice between Red and White Oak to ensure you get a floor that matches your aesthetics perfectly. Needless to say, oak is a hardwood that makes a fantastic wood for flooring!

Featured Image Credit: guillermocinque, Pixabay


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