How do I Choose the Best Oak Hardwood Flooring?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Oak is one of the most popular woods for hardwood flooring, but all oak hardwood flooring products are not created alike. Choosing flooring should be done with care to make sure that it will be appropriate for the setting and that it will meet the aesthetic desires of the people who will be living with the flooring. Oak floors last a long time when they are of high quality and they are properly cared for, and people should remember that they will live with their decision for decades.

Oak flooring.
Oak flooring.

Numerous types of oak are used in oak hardwood flooring, with red oak and white oak both being very popular. When selecting hardwood flooring, people should think about the shade they want, because oak can vary from an almost white to deep brown color. They should also consider finishes, which vary from matte to glossy, and can include distressed finishes for an antiqued look. Companies which make flooring usually provide samples for free, which allows people to inspect their options to determine which one would be most suitable.

Installing hardwood floors may help add value to a home.
Installing hardwood floors may help add value to a home.

Another issue to think about when selecting oak hardwood flooring is whether the wood should be solid or engineered. Solid oak hardwood flooring is made from solid strips or planks of wood, while engineered flooring is made with veneer which is layered onto a base. Engineered flooring tends to expand and contract less, but it doesn't always wear as well as solid flooring. There are also numerous flooring widths to consider, including wide plank flooring and flooring made from narrow strips, and oak hardwood flooring is also available in parquet.

Flooring products often come with warranties, which is another thing to consider when selecting oak hardwood flooring. Usually prefinished floors have lengthier warranties, while unfinished floors have much shorter ones. If a flooring company is being hired to do the flooring installation, it is important to ask them about any guarantees and warranties they offer, and to select a reputable flooring company to do the job. Even the best flooring will fail if the installation is done incorrectly.

Installation method can be an important issue. People installing their own oak hardwood flooring may prefer a floating floor, which is easy to install without extensive experience. Other flooring products need to be glued, nailed, or stapled, and they can be more challenging to install. Tricky installations are usually best handled by professionals who have experience.

Some homeowners who select oak hardwood flooring prefer a floating floor that is simpler to install.
Some homeowners who select oak hardwood flooring prefer a floating floor that is simpler to install.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I love that they make hardwood floors now that are so easy to install. I remember when I was younger, I was helping my grandfather put in some wooden flooring at my aunt's house, and it was a lot of work. You had to install each plank individually, and make sure everything lined up perfectly. Then you had to nail them into the floor a certain way. Even after all that, the floor would start to buckle in some places after several years, since we lived in such a humid climate.

Now, the flooring you can get just has the tongue and groove system where you can basically snap the pieces into each other. They have made the undercoating the article mentions, too, which helps to keep the moisture away from the floor, so that you don't get the buckling and warping.

Me and my brother are gearing up to put hardwood flooring in a rental house we own. We decided to go with some of the laminate oak flooring, and I think it should turn out nicely.


@jcraig - As far as I am concerned, the only real reason to get solid oak is know that it is solid oak. I really couldn't tell you any benefit to it. I have had the engineered oak floors in my house for well over a decade, and they are holding up just fine and should keep doing so for quite a while.

If you're going to buy engineered floors, make sure the under material is also oak. This makes sure that when the floor expands and contracts, it both the veneer and bottom material do so at the same rate. The wood on the bottom is just oak of lower quality that you wouldn't want showing.

As far the length of time that the floor will stay in condition, that just depends on how much wear and tear you put on it. Like I said, I have had mine for about 10 years, and I am only now starting to think about getting them refinished. If you have kids, though, you can expect a lot more scratches and marks to show up.


For anyone here who has some experience choosing hardwood oak flooring, is there any real downside to choosing the engineered floors over solid wood floors? Also, the article mentions that the oak is just a veneer, what kind of wood is below the veneer? Is it still as durable?

My wife and I just moved into a new house about a year ago, and they had carpet in the dining room, and we aren't fans of that at all. We would like to replace it with oak, but I don't have any experience with it to know what to look for. I want to make sure I get something that will last for a long time, but is still affordable. Also, how long does it usually take before the floor needs to be refinished?

I would also be interested to hear others' suggestions about choosing the look of the wood. What rooms are wide planks better for and what rooms do more narrow planks work for?


I think oak is possibly the best type of floor you can get. At least as far as I am concerned it has everything you should look for in a floor. It is attractive, durable, and affordable. I guess I might be a little biased, though, since every house I have lived in has had oak floors.

My favorite thing is that there are so many options. Personally, I like red oak hardwood flooring just because its color goes better with the way I like to decorate. I did have one house with white oak flooring, though, and it was still nice. It has a slightly different look compared to the red oak, though.

Just a suggestion for anyone planning to buy hardwood floors, like the article says, you can usually get sample of the floor. Take them home with you, and compared them with your wall colors and see how the wood looks in the lighting of your home. I have found some samples like I really liked in the store, but looked completely different by the time I got them home.

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