Neutral and durable, unfinished Oak flooring comes in solid and engineered constructions. Red and White Oak, two species part of every brand’s selection, are reddish and tan, respectively, and are characterized by open and coarse grain. Open grain is helpful for absorbing stains. In addition to being better for sanding or machining than other species, Oak flooring has high shock resistance, durability, and split resistance and has good holding ability.
Solid unfinished Oak flooring is a high quality product. Installation involves adding the wood by staples or nails to a wood subfloor or creating a floor joist system. Unfinished solid oak, however, can only be added on or above grade, and if you want flooring for the basement, go with engineered unfinished oak. Made out of three to nine pieces bonded together, engineered unfinished oak flooring expands and contracts less from moisture and heat and can be installed over concrete or radiant in floor heat.
Quality, character, and precision go into and are needed for unfinished Oak flooring. Installation and finishing do not happen in a day. If you plan to install unfinished Oak flooring into a room, make sure you have several days set aside for sanding and finishing, and the area needs to be isolated and clean during the job.
Unfinished Oak flooring is known for rays. Longer in White Oak but more prominent in Red Oak, these medullary rays are highlighted by light. When unfinished Oak flooring is plain sawn, the cut gives the hardwood a plumed appearance. When quarter sawn, the wood has a tiger stripe or flake look. Rift sawn Oak, similarly, has a tighter grain pattern.
As traditional flooring, unfinished Oak hardwood gives you more options for experimenting with color in your home. After the floor is installed, you can test parts with different stains until you find the right look for the space. Like any other unfinished flooring, Oak creates a seamless appearance when installed next to older materials and comes in longer plank sizes.
Standard grading is an additional benefit of unfinished oak flooring. Manufacturers grade prefinished lines, and their terms are descriptive for marketing purposes rather than consistency and appearance. Based on National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) standards, grading for unfinished oak flooring includes:
As one of the more popular domestic species, Oak flooring is sold also manufactured in prefinished varieties in both solid and engineered constructions. If you’re looking to have the look of Oak flooring in your space quickly, consider choosing prefinished Oak flooring.
Already stained, prefinished Oak flooring comes in a wide range of finishes, from light to dark shades, and eliminates two of the most time-consuming aspects of installation; sanding and finishing.
Prefinished flooring can be installed into a space in just a day or two depending on the total square footage being installed. Rather than being isolated for additional time, the room can be used immediately after. Because of this convenience, manufacturers of prefinished Oak flooring have significantly expanded their collections in this genre over the past 10 years.
If you choose prefinished Oak flooring for your home, keep a few points in mind. For one, factory finished, prefinished Oak does not follow the same grading as unfinished hardwood (see descriptions above). As such, grading varies with each manufacturer and is typically used for marketing purposes; for instance, “character” prefinished oak flooring may be scraped or altered to have an aged appearance instead of being value grade wood flooring.
Although prefinished Oak flooring takes less time to install, pay attention to aligning the boards and to the any gaps between planks. Planks must not be dragged into place, especially with a mallet. If gaps are present, fill them in with filler, available through a manufacturer, after installation.
In addition to Red and White Oak options in both prefinished and unfinished solid and engineered constructions, the rapidly growing genre of European style French Oak is another great option to consider. Also available in both prefinished and unfinished options, this flooring boasts wide plank widths ranging anywhere from 7 1/2″ to 10 1/4″ inches and lengths up to 87″ long. Planks constructed in sizes this large are quickly installed as there’s fewer planks needed to fill the flooring space. This fact is not lost on local installers, typically resulting in a lower overall installation cost.
One important difference to keep in mind when choosing an unfinished or prefinished French Oak floor deals with texturing. While French Oak Prefinished wood floors are often constructed with wire brushed or hand scraped textures and distressing, Unfinished French Oak flooring will be smooth. As is the case for any homeowner installing an unfinished wood floor, if texturing is desired it would be done on-site and something that needs to be considered when planning out how much time it will take to complete your wood floor installation project.
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