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How Hard is White Oak Flooring?

Zoom in photo of a oak wood floor.

Oak flooring is the most popular choice for hardwood flooring throughout the U.S. and around the world. White oak flooring is one popular oak flooring option with many benefits. It provides you with the ideal modern look or lets your traditional or historical design shine as a great flooring choice.  

Several questions likely arise when you consider new flooring, whether you have an existing space or home where you plan to have new flooring installed, or whether you have a new build home and are having flooring installed for the first time.

I know that I had several questions when I considered new flooring. I wanted to know about oak flooring, the types of oak flooring, and the styles and designs. One important question is, “How hard is oak flooring?”  

What is Oak Flooring? 

Oak flooring is not a new idea. It did not start during your parent’s generation, which surprised me when I searched for flooring options for my own home. Are you surprised that people used oak flooring in their homes as far back as the Middle Ages?  

Some sources believe that the grain and warm tones of oak flooring are unmatched “by its peers.” The beauty and durability of white oak flooring are only a part of the reason that people choose white oak when updating their flooring or putting in flooring in their homes that is new construction.

Related: What is French Oak Flooring?

White Oak Flooring Benefits

Two people resting after painting the walls of the room white.

White oak, scientific name Quercus alba, is one of the standard choices for oak flooring. The other standard option is red oak flooring. There are several reasons why white oak flooring is an ideal option, wherever you plan to install it. 

Moisture Resistance of White Oak 

The moisture resistance of white oak flooring is one reason that it is such a popular flooring choice. The closed grain structure of the wood and the resistance to decay from liquids and from moisture mean that white oak is safe for kitchens, bathrooms, decks, and other areas of the home.  

The moisture resistance of this type of wood flooring gives you the option of installing it in every room and on the outside areas of your home for uniformity and the beauty of white oak. 

White Oak is a Domestic Hardwood

A close up photo of a white domestic hardwood.

Purchase white oak and feel good about buying flooring that is a domestic hardwood. White oak trees primarily grow in the Northeast United States and in the northern part of the State of Florida.  

Missouri, Texas, and some other states are also home to white oak specimens. White oaks also grow in some parts of Canada. Plenty of white oak flooring is available in the U.S., so you do not have to worry about waiting for flooring imported from another area. 

Do you want to make sure that you know the other names for white oak before you begin shopping for your new flooring? Arizona Hardwood lists the other names, which include Chestnut Oak, Basket Oak, Mountain Oak, Swamp Oak, and Cow Oak. 

The Modern Option is White Oak 

Did you know that white oak is darker than some other woods? I wondered how it is possible for this distinction. It turns out that it is darker than red oak and darker than maple. Think about the fact that the variety of stain options or the decision to leave it natural when you install the white oak flooring makes a difference. 

White oak accepts stains better than red oak and some other wood choices. You have the opportunity to customize your white oak flooring to your choice of the stain without worrying about strange-looking undertones. 

Customize your white oak flooring to go with your modern design vision. Stain it with a warm coffee shade, or choose a lighter stain. Many people choose to leave their oak flooring unfinished for the rustic or natural look and feel in their space. Consider the popular herringbone pattern for your white oak floors.

You do not have to stain white oak. Stains add color. Sealants help to protect your white oak floors.

The durability of White Oak

A man installing a white oak flooring on a new house.

White oak is a highly durable hardwood. Durability is a primary reason that so many homeowners, designers, and home builders choose white oak flooring for a home. People who have white oak flooring do not have to worry about the life of the floor.  

You do not have to worry about the activities of the family pet or the kids spilling their drinks on white oak floors. Welcome family and friends for holidays or regular get-togethers without having concerns about the durability of your flooring after their visit. 

White oak is resistant to insects, mold, and fungi, another concern that sometimes affects the durability of the flooring.

How Hard is White Oak Flooring? 

A new and freshly finished white oak flooring done by an expert.

The hardness of flooring is likely to be a primary concern for homeowners, flooring professionals or design teams. People who list durability as a top priority for flooring do not have concerns when they learn about the hardness of white oak flooring. It is a gold standard in flooring options. One reason is because of the hardness of white oak. 

The Janka hardness scale is important when choosing the type of wood for your flooring. What is the Janka Scale?  

Gabriel Janka, an Austrian wood researcher, developed the hardness scale for wood in 1906. It is still the method for measuring wood hardness today.  

The Family Handyman explains that Mr. Janka wanted to create an objective and reliable way of testing wood density for industrial applications. Refer to the Janka Scale to avoid purchasing a softwood option when you want more durability, such as that provided by white oak, a hardwood. 

What is the test that Gabriel Janka used when he created the Janka Scale? The testing method put simply, involves testing the amount of force that is necessary to implant an 11.28mm steel ball halfway into a plank of wood. The harder the wood, there is more force required to implant the steel ball halfway into the wood sample. 

White oak has a ranking of 1360 on the Janka Scale. It has a higher ranking than red oak, which has a ranking of 1260 on the scale. White oak has a higher Janka Hardness Scale ranking than several common types of wood, including ash, cherry, English Oak, teak, poplar, and white pine. 

Do not attempt to stain or refinish white oak flooring yourself if you are not familiar with finishing hardwood flooring. The hardness of white oak flooring makes it difficult to stain or refinish if you do not have experience. Hire a professional so that your white oak flooring maintains its beauty for many years.

The hardness of white oak does not mean that consumers pay a higher price for this hardwood. The cost of white oak flooring typically has to do with the length and width of the white oak flooring boards. Supply chain fluctuation is one issue that sometimes affects the cost of white oak. 

The Spruce refers to white oak flooring as “one of the best options for all types of hardwood installations.”  


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