oak floor


When it comes to choosing the right species of wood for your wooden floor, there are several things that you need to take into consideration.  Although many people start their journey driven by price, they soon realise that there’s much more to it than that.  Oak is arguably one of the best and most affordable options when it comes to wood flooring, no matter whether it’s solid or engineered, but sometimes people look around for an alternative and ash is a species that often gets put into the melting pot.

Here’s an ‘at a glance’ summary of the main differences:

Ash Oak
Colour Almost white to dark brown Blonde to mid brown
Price Mid to high Low to high
Grades available All All
Hardness Very Very
Moisture resistancy Moderate Excellent
Grain Quite apparent Very apparent

Ash wood flooring, as you would imagine, comes from ash trees.  Ash trees are quite unusual in the sense that within the family of ash trees, there are both evergreen and deciduous trees, so there is the potential for both soft and hardwoods to emanate from this species.  Most typically found in Europe and some parts of north West Asia; there are estimated to be between 45 and 65 different types of ash tree, so it’s important that if you do plump for ash, you know exactly what you’re getting.

Ash woods that comes from the deciduous species of the tree are particularly hard, in fact they are even harder than oak, but they are less resistant to moisture.  Believe it or not, but the wood from this tree is so hard that it is even used to make baseball bats.  Within the ash tree, there are two distinct colourings; there is the sapwood that is almost white and then the heartwood that ranges in colour from a warm beige colour to a dark brown.

Although ash sports quite an obvious grain, it’s not quite as apparent as the grain in oak wood.  And while ash wood takes stains well, one of the main attractions of this wood is its light colour.  Like most other woods, ash comes in a range of grades and is priced according to grade and quality.  An extremely hard wood, there is a tendency in commonly available ash wood flooring for colours to be on the light side.  As well as this, ash is typically more expensive than oak.

Oak wood, as any regular reader of this blog will know is a highly popular and readily available wood flooring option for both solid wood and engineered wood flooring.  With around 600 different species, it hails most commonly from Europe or North America.  The oak tree is a recognised symbol of strength and longevity and the wood that comes from it is sought after for these characteristics.

Ranging in colour from dark tones to very blonde wood, oak has a very pronounced grain and this is why many people choose it.  That said, there’s no getting away from the fact that if you’re not a grainy wood lover, oak probably isn’t for you.  Again coming in all four wood grades: prime, select, natural and rustic, you’ll find that no matter which grade you choose the markings will be distinctive.  When it comes to resistance to moisture and humidity, oak is highly effective.

One of the main advantages of oak flooring, apart from its price is that it’s particularly resistant to denting and scratching, so if you have a busy household or high footfall, then this option is probably a better solution than ash.

While many true wood workers argue that ash is slightly easier to work with than oak, when it comes to flooring this shouldn’t be a particular issue because the product comes pretty much ready to lay.  Finally, on the subject of maintenance, neither option should require more maintenance than the other, so this shouldn’t be a deciding factor.

So there you have it.  If you’re in a toss up situation between ash and oak, hopefully this article will have helped steer you in one direction or another.  However, if you’d like to discuss the options further, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  At Wood and Beyond we’re always happy to help and we’ll give you the benefit of our many years of experience.