Undeniably the most popular hardwood used in flooring, oak holds a special place in the hearts and homes of people all around the globe. Thanks to it's phenomenal longevity, oak wood flooring is an investment that is certain to offer value for many years – if not a lifetime! In this sense, identifying which type of oak will provide the perfect aesthetic for your herringbone floor requires some knowledge of the two oak species. Here, we will explore what properties make each type of oak beautiful in it's own distinct way.
Broadly speaking, oak timber has been prized for it's spectacular strength and durability throughout history. From it's use in Viking longships, to it's use to make barrels for whiskey and wine, it is certainly a prized material! Both European oak – Quercus Robur – and American Oak – Quercus Alba – are species known as “white oaks”. Both have played an invaluable role in construction, flooring, wood panelling, furniture making, and much more, from distant history through to contemporary design!
European oak is a temperate hardwood, native to much of Europe. It is in fact the exact same species as so-called English oak. In England, this type of oak was hugely popular in the era of wood panelling, and remains to this day in prestigious buildings such as the debating chamber of the House of Commons in London. American oak is also a temperate species, with it's origins traced to Eastern North America. This type of oak enjoys a rich heritage in barrel making, both for American wines and liquors such as Bourbon.
Diversity Of Colour
As white oaks, both species are light in colour. European oak features a more golden, honey-like tone. American oak tends to be paler, with a slightly pinker hue. For the purpose of herringbone parquetry, European oak herringbone wood flooring in it's natural form is likely to display a more even tone between boards. American oak herringbone wood flooring will, in all probability, feature greater diversity of colour between boards. Much of oak's longevity can be traced to the relatively high tannin levels within the wood, which acts as a natural pesticide. Tannins are what give the grain it's distinct and contrasting colour. Although the natural grains of oak are not strongly contrasting, their appearance can be enhanced by fuming or smoking the wood. This process draws the tannins to the surface, creating a naturally pigmented stronger contrast.
The greatest visual difference between these two types of wood can be found in the patten of the grain. American oak tends to feature a densely packed and straight grain, that is fairly subtle to observe. American oak herringbone wood flooring will provide sweeping lines throughout the floor pattern, with greater colour interest rooted in the underlying shades of the wood rather than the grain. In contrast, European oak can be expected to display wavy patterning, and a smattering of pips and burs. European oak herringbone wood flooring, while more consistent in overall tone, will provide much greater interest in terms of diverse grain patterning.
Other Distinct Properties
European oak is generally considered slightly more easy to pigment, providing a more even absorption and finish. However, for the purpose of creating a stunning hardwood floor, this factor simply calls for an in-depth understanding of how to work with each wood species, in order to create the spectacular effect desired. It can be worthwhile to note that European oak is slightly more resistant to movement. This may be a factor to weigh when considering a hardwood floor within a location prone to damp, or great temperature fluctuations. In this instance, asking a hardwood flooring expert, such as those here at Unique Bespoke Wood, for guidance on your unique setting will provide assurance that every element is taken into account.
The Perfect Choice For Your Herringbone Floor
Whether American oak herringbone wood flooring speaks most to your soul, or European oak herringbone wood flooring stands as your hearts desire, the decision between the two is largely a purely aesthetic choice. Our team of experts are always on hand to help you navigate the selection process for the oak wood flooringof your dreams. Contact Unique Bespoke Wood today to explore the possibilities for your upcoming oak wood flooring project!