This post about choosing the best white oak floors has been a long time coming. As part of our kitchen remodel, the project snowballed into unifying the flooring throughout our main level, with the exception of the bedrooms, which remained carpeted. I tried to convince my husband to do hardwood in our bedroom, but he couldn’t buy into the logic of putting in hardwood floors, only to have them covered by a big rug. You have to take the wins when you get them, right? That said, I knew what I wanted when it came to flooring – I’ve seen it all over Instagram and Pinterest. White oak hardwood flooring. Wide plank. Natural color. A pretty white oak grain. However, finding and choosing white oak floors, was much more difficult than I expected. Having gone through this experience, with more flooring samples than I care to count, I thought it would be worthwhile to share what I’ve learned, and the floors that we ultimately chose.
This post is sponsored by Cochran’s Lumber who provided me discounted floors for this project. As always all opinions are my own.
In choosing white oak floors, I knew I wanted a light stain, but there are more colors out there than you can imagine. What you think looks great in the store, may fall flat at home. This happened to me repeatedly. If you can get a larger sample of the white oak floors you’re considering, I highly recommend it. Before pulling the trigger on a choice, I suggest purchasing a box of the flooring, so you can lay it out at home and see on a larger scale, how it looks. Our flooring company helped make this happen, and it really gave me peace of mind.
Would you believe of all of these samples, I chose none of them? My flooring guy is a saint. Truly. He went above and beyond to help me find the Goldilocks of floors – the one that was just right for me.
Plank size matters! I’m not just talking about the width of the planks, but the length. There are a lot of variations out there. I opted for wide planks for our home, as the floors were covering a large swath of our main level, and the space overall is a good size and very open. This is where the plank length is something to make note of as well. The planks for our floors are long, and I like it that way. It creates a very seamless look where the floors make a statement without shouting, if that makes sense. They’re not beveled either – all smooth, and I absolutely love it.
Knots and Variation
These are two components of white oak flooring that don’t get enough attention, and are very important in the way the installed floor looks. The last thing I wanted was a floor that looked busy. I wanted low variation and not a lot of knots, which would also contribute to the floor looking busy. Essentially, I didn’t want the floor to be the boss of the room. I had a bossy floor in my old kitchen, and it made me crazy. It limited my options, and is one of the reasons we did a complete renovation of the kitchen vs. keeping the existing footprint. I wanted to get rid of my old bossy floors.
Remember these bossy floors?
I have never been so happy to see tile floors removed in my life!
A floor with a high degree of variation will draw attention, but not necessarily in a good way. The same with the knots – it makes the floors stand out, and I wanted my floors to recede. Not that I didn’t want beautiful floors, I just didn’t want them to control the room. Luckily, most floors will indicate on the box or sample, the degree of variation, so you can tell from that. I also recommend looking up pictures of the flooring online if you can find them, so that you can see the variation in an actual room. The floors that we ultimate chose were a “select grade” which meant there was limited variation and knots, which was important to me.
Engineered Hardwood vs. Solid Hardwood
For the sake of discussion, I’m not including luxury vinyl plank or laminate in this discussion, because we didn’t go that route. However, there is always debate around what’s “best”. It depends on your house, your budget, your climate, etc.. So many different things. We opted for engineered hardwood with a very thick wear layer, so refinishing is still an option down the line (hopefully after I’m long gone so I don’t have to deal with it). The engineered floor in a wider plank is supposed to be well suited to managing temperature and humidity fluctuations, which results to a more stable floor (no cupping, expansion/contraction of flooring, etc…). I have always been a bit skeptical of engineered floors – maybe I’m a bit of a floor snob that way – but I’m sold on these. They’re stunning, and exactly what I was looking for.
One thing I would say in considering engineered floors is to make sure they have a thick wear layer. I think engineered flooring with a thin wear layer is where they get a bad rap.
What Did I Choose?
My flooring guy deserves a medal because he was immensely patient and helpful as I nitpicked my way through sample after sample. He too, knew what I wanted, and worked hard to narrow it down for me. One day he brought out a flooring sample from Cochran’s Lumber that practically sang to me. This was it.
I admit, I had never heard of Cochran’s Lumber before, but at this point I was sold. The look, the feel, everything just screamed perfection. Cochran’s Lumber was founded in 1978 and still owned and operated by the Cochran family out of Virginia. It took a few different samples to hone in on the right color, but we ended up going with their Select White Oak in a Frisco Finish. (NOTE: The Select White Oak has less variation and knots than the Live Sawn)
You can see that everything tied together the way I had hoped once we brought Cochran’s Lumber into the picture.
I will tell you that going from dark hardwoods to light hardwoods has been huge in a good way. While I like the look of dark hardwoods, they show every little speck of dust, dirt and dog hair. These floors work much better as a camouflage for dirt. Not that I don’t clean them, but it was always frustrating to have clean floors and then immediately have them show dirt.
How have they held up so far? Beautifully. I’m as thrilled with them now as I was when we first had them installed. We have a dog, and two kids at home at the moment, so they definitely get their fair share of wear and they have proven to be durable. It was worth the time and effort to seek out the right flooring for our project.
I know choosing white oak floors can be an overwhelming process. I hope this guide has been helpful in walking you through the process and finding the right wood floor for you.