Skip links

American Oak vs French Oak

Wood flooring is one of the best choices homeowners can make for their houses. This type of flooring has many benefits which other types of flooring materials cannot compare to. Depending on the type of wood material used, the quality and appearance may also have some major differences. Hardwood flooring is one of the most sought-after among the different types of wood flooring. However, people have to choose the kinds of hardwood trees their wood flooring material would come from. American oak and French oak are some of the kinds that people usually choose from. Knowing the differences between the two will help homeowners decide which would fit their needs.

Defining Hardwood Flooring

Before going to the specifics of the different kinds of hardwood flooring, it is imperative that people are familiar with hardwood flooring. When people talk about hardwood flooring, they automatically think about flooring material that can last for at least 10 years before it needs to be refinished or repaired. Longevity means that it has excellent strength and can withstand most types of pressure it is exposed to. Hardwood flooring uses material that comes from hardwood trees. What makes hardwood trees special is that they are denser as compared to other types of trees.

Considered to be deciduous trees, they have slower growth rates which help develop their densities. As the trees become denser, they become more durable and stronger. The timber that comes from these trees is the main component used to make hardwood flooring planks. Hardwood flooring panels are made with widths that may range between 2.25” and 24”. The lengths of the planks are usually between 3’ and 3.5’. When it comes to thickness, the planks may be as thin as 5/16” and as thick as 3/4”.

Solid Hardwood Flooring

One of the most important things people need to consider when choosing hardwood flooring is its type. Solid hardwood flooring is known for using solid wood material that comes from a specific kind of hardwood tree. It is usually considered to be more costly due to the fact that the whole thickness of the flooring planks is made entirely of solid hardwood timber. In relation to how it is manufactured, hardwood flooring planks may come in 2 different kinds.

Solid unfinished hardwood flooring is manufactured by simply cutting timber from the hardwood tree and shaping them into the required flooring planks. This kind usually requires the homeowners to have the planks sanded and applied with protective coatings and finishes upon installation in their houses. It is known to be one of the more tedious flooring planks to install. The 2nd kind is called solid prefinished hardwood flooring.

Manufacturers make this by cutting and shaping the timber from hardwood trees into the required flooring planks. However, the planks are then sanded and added with the necessary finishes and protective coatings before they are sent out to the buyers or the homeowners.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

This is another type of hardwood flooring that most people prefer to install in their houses. Engineered hardwood flooring planks are manufactured by bonding together multiple layers of wood veneer. The planks are then sanded and applied with the required finishes and protective coatings. A wood veneer may be made from softwood, hardwood, or plywood. The manufacturers use strong adhesives to bond these together because the adhesive acts as a protective film that is needed to protect each layer within the hardwood flooring planks. The topmost layer requires the manufacturer to use solid timber that comes from a specific hardwood tree.

This layer is called the wear layer since this is the one that is fully exposed to different factors such as sharp objects, foot traffic, dust, dirt, water, and air. The wear layer ensures that the flooring plank will not easily break or get damaged. There are 2 reasons that make people choose engineered hardwood flooring over solid hardwood flooring. One is that it is known to cost less since the whole plank is not made purely out of solid hardwood timber. Another reason is that it has more resistance against extreme climate changes.

Wood is a type of material that may shrink or expand when exposed to either hot or cold weather. This would mean that solid hardwood flooring may get damaged in areas that are constantly exposed to changes in the climate. If the flooring planks shrink, then they may cause gaps in the flooring of the house. Planks that expand would make the flooring of the house rise up and would need to be replaced.

But with engineered hardwood flooring planks, the adhesive used acts as the protection against hot and cold air. Air will not be able to get in contact with the different layers of the flooring planks. Also, with the protective coatings applied by the manufacturers, they protect the wear layers of the flooring planks from getting exposed to air and water.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Differences Between American Oak And French Oak Flooring

Seeing that you are now familiar with the structural aspect of hardwood flooring planks, you must also understand the differences in the kinds of hardwood trees that the flooring materials are made of. Oak is a famous hardwood tree that is used in making hardwood flooring planks. Other than flooring, oak is known to be used for wine ageing, ship building, and manufacturing of furniture. These just show the quality and flexibility of this kind of hardwood tree.

In the flooring industry, people are given the choice if they prefer to use American oak or French oak flooring planks. Homeowners have to realize that there are different types of oak flooring. There are major differences between these types, which homeowners have to understand for them to make informed decisions. You may refer below to the known differences between these two types of oak flooring:

  • Based on the names of the two types of oak flooring, there is a major difference on where the flooring planks got their solid hardwood timber from. Quercus Alba (American white oak) and Quercus Rubra (American red oak) are known to grow all over America and Canada. These 2 kinds of American oak trees are commonly used for hardwood flooring. There is usually no issue with the supply of American oak trees when it comes to the requirements for the flooring industry. On the other hand, the supply for French oak is not as abundant as American oak. In France, the oak trees that are used to create hardwood flooring planks are the Quercus Robur and the Quercus Petraea. These oak trees only grow in 6 forests in France. These trees are grown in Vosges, Limousin, Tronçais, Allier, Bertranges, and Nevers. Since authentic French oak flooring planks are manufactured in France, availability may become an issue. It may take more time to replenish stocks for French oak flooring planks.
  • When considering the availability of the supply needed to create the hardwood flooring planks, French oak hardwood flooring is known to cost more than American oak hardwood flooring. Also, authentic French oak flooring planks that are created by a manufacturer in France are known to be done with a high sense for detail. High-grade French oak flooring planks are made by French manufacturers that are experts in determining the growth patterns and the timing required to cut and create the flooring planks. Authenticity is another reason why French oak flooring planks cost more than their American counterparts. The expenses needed to ship the flooring planks from France add to the cost. People need to be wary if they find French oak flooring planks that come at very low prices. There is a great possibility that these are cheap knockoffs, and the quality of these flooring planks does not meet the standards of high-grade French oak flooring.
  • American oak flooring can be identified with its lighter brown color that has a pinkish tone. American oak is known to be larger than French oak. This means that the growth rings are much wider in American oak flooring. You may want to avoid using this kind of oak flooring in a small room since the bigger rings can be dominating. French oak, on the other hand, is known to have a yellowish brown cognac color. Using this for your flooring would give the room a warmer look.
  • For those who are particular with the grains of the flooring planks, these two kinds of oak flooring have clear distinctions from each other. French oak flooring planks usually show a wavy grain pattern. American oak flooring is known to display compacted and straight lines.
  • There is a slight difference between the Janka hardness ratings between American oak and French oak. The Janka test is determined by measuring the force needed for a steel ball to embed itself halfway into a sample of timber. French oak has a Janka rating of 6.5kN. American oak has a Janka rating of 6.0kN. This would mean that French oak has a better rating and is slightly harder than American oak.

Choose Which Would Fit Your Needs

As it can be seen, French oak flooring has a slight advantage when it comes to hardness and quality as compared to American oak flooring. However, if you are more particular with the price, American oak flooring may be the one that would fit your needs. You should always consider what you really need before purchasing one over the other. If you cannot decide, you can always inquire from experts in the flooring industry. If you have any concerns with oak flooring, you may contact Three Trees Flooring at (416) 665-2624.

Leave a comment