Real oak flooring is one of the most popular and most sought after flooring choices around, and to be honest, it’s easy to see why.
Oak – a real symbol of stability and strength
The oak tree is synonymous with stability and strength. So much so, that companies have been known to use the oak tree as the image in their logo because it implies to their customers that they are strong and long-lasting – that they are going to provide good service or good products for a very long time.
When it comes to real oak flooring, many homes that were built centuries ago were fitted with this as their flooring material throughout. Through the years, fashions and choices have changed and everything from lino flooring (linoleum) to carpeting has been put over these floors and in some instances they have been ripped out and replaced with concrete!
If you’re looking to replace your floor and are interested in choosing a real oak flooring solution, in this blog post we’ll guide you through some of the things you should take into consideration.
When oak is lumbered, it is graded into one of four different grades. Wood grades range from prime to rustic, with select and natural in between. Many people are fooled into thinking that the higher the grade of the oak, the better the oak is, but this isn’t the case. When wood is graded, it is graded according to its look.
Prime grade wood for example has a really consistent colour and very few, as well as very small knots. It also contains very little sap. Although you can’t normally see sap, in very low grade woods you can sometimes feel it when the wood is in its raw, untreated state.
Rustic wood, which is at the other end of the spectrum is inconsistent in colour and normally sports big, chunky knots and even sometimes some holes where the knots have parted company from the board.
Both prime and rustic oaks can look great, it’s simply a case of choosing the right look for your interior. And of course select and natural grades will provide you with a gradient of consistency between the two.
After grade, the next thing to take into account is the width of board you’d like.
Narrow oak boards tend to be cheaper than wide boards, simply because you get more from each tree – in other words, there is less waste when making narrow boards than wide ones. That said, if you have the budget, a wide oak board can look stunning in rooms both big and small. In fact, you can get imaginative with the width of a board to create an illusion of space or change the apparent dimensions of a room.
Cleverly using wide boards in a narrow room for example, can make the room seem wider. Using narrow boards can make a small room seem more spacious, simply because of the number of boards fitted into the space. The secret here is to get creative within your budget and ask for help if you need it (at Wood and Beyond we’re here and brimming with ideas if you need inspiration).
Oak floors tend to be finished in one of two ways – oiled or lacquered. Although there are other options, these two are the most common.
Albeit not technically 100% correct, the easiest and simplest way to imagine the difference between the two is to think in your mind that lacquered floors (typically) have a shinier finish than oiled floors. So if you want a really natural looking finish to your oak floor, you should plump for an oiled finish and if you want a more polished look then you should choose lacquered.
Beyond the oil and lacquer used to finish the board, the other terms you’ll commonly come across in relation to finish are brushed and distressed/reclaimed.
Brushing an oak floor opens up the texture of the wood and makes the appearance of the grain even more prominent. When an oak floor is distressed or reclaimed, it has been made to look old, even though it’s not. A well aged floor is really convincing and could fool even the most cynical of wood lovers into thinking it has genuinely come from an old warehouse or factory.
Oak in its natural state ranges from almost white to dark honey/brown and which you choose will depend to a large extent on the effect you want to create in your room.
One way around having to source natural oak in the shade that you want is to choose a solution that has been made to look the colour you want. As you will see, when you look at our Wood and Beyond website, we have real oak flooring that ranges from brilliant white to jet black – so the world really is your oyster when you choose this solution.
If you’d like help to choose the best flooring solution for your project, why not get in touch? At Wood and Beyond, we not only have tons of experience in selling and fitting oak flooring, but we’ve got lots of ideas for interiors too.