Without a doubt, my favorite part of building our home was the installation of our white oak hardwood flooring. When the first raw board of white oak flooring was put down, I saw the vision in my head come to life.
If you are refinishing or installing hardwoods, your options for types of wood are overwhelming. From engineered to custom site finish, all kinds of varieties of wood and then, of course, stains and finishes- it’s a lot! I hope sharing my experience of choosing our white oak hardwoods and the stain we chose helps you narrow it down!
Our Reasons For Choosing White Oak Hardwood Flooring
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I knew from the beginning we would be using white oak flooring. Our builder recommended it, but I did my research too! White oak is one of the more durable hardwoods; it’s harder than other kinds of hardwood (harder meaning more resilient to dents).
Typically before posting photos online I edit them a bit- deepen the saturation to make objects pop, brighten it a bit, etc. I did not edit these photos so that this would be a true to life look.
Red Oak Vs White Oak Hardwood Flooring
This is a common question when people are refinishing floors they already have. How can I make my red oak floors look like white oak? White oak flooring is similar in some ways to red oak floors. Both are similarly priced, and durable. Red oak was popular for many years, especially during times when certain finishes were trendy.
But white oak flooring takes certain stain colors better than red oak. You can’t make red oak look like white oak, generally speaking.
Red oak has pinkish undertones that will come out if you try to whitewash them, or give them a very light stain. It simply doesn’t take as well to white, gray and darker stain colors. So if you love the trendy colors I just mentioned, listen up!
Most of the photos of modern farmhouses that I had pinned had these amazing whitewashed white oak hardwood flooring with wider planks. I decided we wanted a slightly white-washed look, which is hard to pull off with red oak floors!
Budget, Widths & Other Considerations for White Oak Flooring
We would be putting oak hardwood flooring in the entire home, except for the kids’ bedrooms, upstairs bathrooms and playroom. Originally we were envisioning 6″ planks.
I thought the price of white oak hardwoods to be reasonable within our budget at first, even with all that square footage upstairs. But once I factored in the price of the wider widths I wanted I changed my tune. In order to make the floors fit within our budget we ended up going with a more affordable 4″ width.
Engineered Hardwoods Vs Solid Hardwoods
Quite a few people told us if we were to put engineered hardwoods inside a custom built home, the floors would “cheapen” the home and the value.
Now, we didn’t end up using engineered hardwoods, but I’m not sure I agree with them on that. Perhaps a few years ago, but engineered flooring options right now are pretty amazing.
Benefits of Engineered Hardwoods vs Solid Hardwoods:
- Although both engineered hardwoods and solid hardwoods are durable, engineered hardwoods are extremely tough.
- Engineered hardwoods are sometimes more resistant to wear and tear (i.e.- big dogs with nails and lots of kids!).
- If you are looking for something to be extra resistant to moisture, engineered hardwoods wins this one
- Engineered hardwoods cost far less per square footage.
- From an environmental perspective, engineered hardwoods are greener
- It is easier to put down wider planks of engineered hardwoods successfully because they are stronger and more resistant to buckling.
My husband is a Realtor and he thought engineered hardwoods could be equally as beautiful as solid hardwoods in our home Also, he does not believe they take away from the value of a home. (This is because while one family may not prefer them, another family – say with big dogs and kids – might prefer the engineered over the solid hardwoods.)
That being said, he was never in favor of using engineered hardwoods in our “forever home”. His reason wasn’t about whether engineered hardwoods would cheapen our home. It was simply because you can’t sand down and re-stain engineered hardwoods the same way you can with solid hardwoods.
Stain Colors For Oak Hardwood Flooring
(Read about our paint colors in our kitchen here!)
I told the crew who was helping me pick out our stain that I loved the way white oak looks naturally. The perfect color to me is how they look before any stain or finish.
These are our hardwoods. White Oak flooring, #1 with 4″ width. There isn’t a brand name for them, but they are from Artisan Flooring. We had them finished on site.
Duraseal Stain Colors
Our builder recommended using Duraseal stains. Duraseal is owned by the same company as Minwax. Duraseal offers quite a few more stain colors and takes less time to cure. You can find this on Amazon, Walmart, or use their store locator to find out where to buy Duraseal stain.
When it came time for us to pick out a hardwood floor stain color, I was told the stain color “Neutral” might be something I liked.
Shouldn’t that stain color favor the natural color of raw white oak? No! It doesn’t. Not on its’ own, that is. Although not a bad color, it is significantly darker than the color of white oak without a stain. I was disappointed.
The colors we tried with patches on our floors were Duraseal Weathered Oak (way too gray), Classic Gray (not my thing), Neutral (too dark), and Country White (too washed out for what we wanted).
None of these were right on their own for what we envisioned. Most were too dark, and on the other end of the spectrum, Duraseal Country White was far too washed out. Part of me found it appealing, even though it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Country White really did make our floors look white. It was a Scandinavian look.
We ended up mixing various combinations until we found a winning combo that resembled the wood in its natural state. We created a custom stain made up of half Country White and half Neutral. This easy combination of using half and half of two different stains ends up being VERY close to the look of the white oak already on its own.
We have been so pleased with our pretty floors. The white oak hardwoods themselves have held up beautifully so far. We do put furniture pads under the chairs, etc, and I think that helps.
I hope this post was helpful! If you are considering white oak hardwood flooring or considering stain colors for oak, your best bet is to use a highly recommended installer who understands your vision!
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