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White Oak (North American White Oak) —
Grades & Properties of Wood Flooring —
Other Common Names and Related Species:
- Basket Oak
- Chestnut Oak
- Cow Oak
- Mountain Oak
- North American White Oak
- Rock Oak
- Scandinavian Oak
- Swamp Oak
- Tanbark Oak
Popular Grades of Plain-sawn White Oak Wood Flooring:
The United States and Canada.
Janka Hardness: 1360
White Oak is somewhat harder on the Janka scale than Red Oak (at 1290).
Grades of Plain-sawn White Oak Flooring Available:
White Oak is a widely used wood for flooring, but not to the vast extent of Red Oak. There are many grades of White Oak flooring available. This page is devoted exclusively to Plain-sawn White Oak. Please refer to the Quarter-sawn White Oak flooring properties page for Quartered grades available.
Plain-sawing involves making a series of parallel cuts through the log and is the simplest and quickest method for milling a log into planks. It also leaves the least amount of waste. Plain-sawn lumber can have a variety of appearances due to the angle of the growth rings relative to the surface of the board. As the wood dries and ages, the tension across the grain can cause the boards to cup, twist, and bow. By contrast, quarter-sawn lumber has tighter growth rings perpendicular to the face, creating a more stable board (with less tendency to swell or cup) as well as a more pleasing visual effect.
Flooring is normally made from one grade lower of lumber. Thus, #1 Common lumber will make Select and Better flooring and so on. Lumber is graded worst side, while flooring is graded best side of the board. The lumber is defected to yield a higher grade of flooring, except when Clear grade flooring is made.
Clear grade White Oak flooring is color-sorted for a rich consistent grayish tan color. Clear is the best flooring grade and made of the highest quality (export grade) lumber. Very little color variation is allowed in this grade.
Select and Better White Oak flooring is color-sorted to remove extreme color variation, knots, mineral streaks, and surface defects such as cracks. Slightly more color variation will be present than in the Clear grade, but it will still have mostly consistent color. Select and Better White Oak is also referred to as Premium White Oak.
#1 Common White Oak flooring is lightly color-sorted to remove the worst color variation. Small dime-sized knots are allowed, as well as mineral streaks.
#2 Common White Oak flooring includes all the character found in the wood. Large knots, white sapwood, worm holes, and other surface defects are included in this grade. Other common names are Rustic White Oak, Mill Run White Oak, and Tavern and Cabin Grade White Oak.