Everything you need to know about oak flooring
There are many reasons oaks are amongst the UK’s favourite trees. With their rich tones and attractive grain, the oak’s timbers can take our homes from rustic to luxury and back again with ease. For centuries we’ve been using this beautiful, strong wood in our great buildings, ships and homes. Oak flooring is synonymous with quality and durability, and always injects a shot of indulgence into any interior design scheme.
Install an oak floor in your home and you’ll enjoy a great reaction from visitors as well as relaxed times with family.
One of the best things about both solid and engineered oak flooring is that they offer so many options when it comes to style and colour. From bold black oak flooring to more gentle limed oak flooring, this wood will fulfill all your home décor ambitions. To help you make your choice amongst all this luxury, we take a definitive look at oak flooring.
What is engineered oak flooring?
Traditional solid oak flooring, for example reclaimed oak flooring, is stunning but reacts poorly to heat and moisture, and can’t be used with underfloor heating. That’s where engineered oak flooring can step in.
Engineered oak flooring uses layers of bonded ply to provide a really strong and stable board. This is then topped with a solid oak layer, which gives each board as much refinement and attraction as a solid wood floor. Engineered flooring is not the same as laminate flooring, which has a photographic top layer instead of a wooden one.
Many people suggest that once an engineered oak floor is laid, it is difficult to tell the difference between that and a solid oak floor. Engineered oak flooring is available in a wide range of colours and styles.
Light oak flooring is a very popular option and very close in colour to the timber’s own natural shades. Some people shy away from a lighter floor because of worries about keeping it clean but both solid and engineered wood floors are easy to maintain. Light oak flooring also has beautiful contrasting grains, which easily disguise dust.
- Advantages: Light oak shades maintain a natural feel and give even small spaces a feeling of airiness
- Disadvantages: Lighter oak floors are more likely to suffer from fading than darker oak floors
- Often used: Where a gentle and unobtrusive decorative touch is required
Limed oak flooring
Centuries ago people used to apply lime to oak as a way of preserving it from destructive creatures such as woodworm. The lime was soaked into the fibres of the wood leaving it with that classic white washed look we appreciate so much today.
- Advantages: Can brighten smaller spaces and highlight accent colours
- Disadvantages: With so many shades available you might be spoilt for choice
- Often used: As a complement to white furnishings, anywhere a light and airy design touch is required
You might imagine that Quercus rober or the English Oak was the only type of oak tree but this isn’t the case. Two of the most popular types of oak for flooring are red oak and white oak. If you’re looking for a floor with a close grain that can be used in tricky moist areas such as kitchens, white oak may well be the right choice for you.
- Advantages: A strong wooden floor that is resistant to dents and scrapes
- Disadvantages: Can be more expensive than red oak
- Often used: For colour matching with existing floors and in areas prone to water spills
Black oak flooring would be a really bold design feature and not for the faint hearted. However installing a black oak floor takes a softer approach, which allows you to combine your desire to make a statement with a more natural look. The result is a floor that has the wow factor when visitors arrive but is gentle enough to allow you and your family to relax.
- Advantages: All dark oak flooring is less vulnerable to fading because it absorbs light
- Disadvantages: Damage from scratches may be more visible than in lighter wood
- Often used: For luxurious effect to compliment light coloured furnishings and white walls
There are of course many shades of grey but one thing they all have in common is their ability to tone with almost any other colour. Grey oak flooring goes even further than this with a beautiful natural grain running through it, it is great for creating peaceful and relaxing spaces.
- Advantages: Grey oak floors look as sleek as stone floors but hold far more warmth for cosy winter toes
- Disadvantages: Some people feel grey is too plain and doesn’t offer enough opportunities for contrast
- Often used: In spaces where you would like to feel a sense of balance and serenity
Smoked oak flooring
One way to darken oak boards is to treat them using a process called ammonia fuming. Once the wood is exposed to ammonium hydroxide, it goes through a chemical reaction, which brings out the colour of the grain and generally darkens it. This method creates really rustic oak flooring that can enhance the most traditional of design schemes.
- Advantages: This process really highlights the naturally beautiful grain of the wood
- Disadvantages: The colour effects on smoked oak flooring can be uneven
- Often used: In areas of high footfall and where a warm, natural feel is required
We tend to think of the oak tree as being English but most oak timber is imported into the UK from Europe. French oak flooring has a particularly good reputation, and is very desirable. It’s also high quality, very durable, and come in a variety of colours.
- Advantages: A close, attractive grain, which can often suit smaller rooms
- Disadvantages: The desirability of this floor can give it a higher price tag
- Often used: Where a characterful and elegant finish is required
Amtico oak flooring offer a stylish and versatile alternative to solid or engineered wood floors. Designed and made in the UK, these luxury vinyl tiles are so beautifully crafted, they’re often mistaken for the wooden or stone floors they’ve been designed to replace.
- Advantages: Extremely versatile and highly resistant to wear
- Disadvantages: Although Amtico looks fabulous; this is not a natural product
- Often used: Where an intricate pattern or contrasting designs are required
Fitting oak flooring
Whether you opt for solid oak or engineered oak flooring, fitting it is a job for the professionals. Wooden floors are natural products and need to be handled by someone who really understands their nuances and requirements. The type of oak flooring underlay or sub floor you require will depend on your existing floors and the area of your home you’re improving.
Whether you’re choosing oak flooring for your home or business, our professional team has the experience to advise you. We understand that a new wooden floor represents a substantial investment, and are more than happy to answer your questions. We offer a full service including expert installation and maintenance and care advice. For a free, no-obligation quote please get in touch on 020 8959 2629 and talk to our team today.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE ROYAL NAVY – Part of a £1.25m fit out of a major new exhibition for the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRM) at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Indigo Flooring were tasked with completing the complicated layout of some 1,500 m2 of Marmoleum flooring with a water jet cut world map inlaid into the floor and Jet cut map of Great Britain vertically installed onto two swing doors, with various hand cut contrasting inlays leading the public to important exhibits throughout.
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