Why White Oak is Good for Flooring

by | Last updated Jan 3, 2024 | Home Design, Interior Design, Materials & Finishes

There are many options for wood flooring, but they are not all equal. You should consider both durability and aesthetics when selecting wood floors. White Oak is consistently a good choice of all the wood floors you can use and is high on my list of options.


Is White Oak Good for Floors?

White Oak has a rating of 1360 on the Janka Wood Hardness Scale, making it a strong hardwood that is an excellent choice for its durability. Additionally, White Oak can take a wide range of stains and finishes, making it aesthetically versatile.

I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in New York and owner of Fontan Architecture, an architecture firm based in NYC. In this post, we will review why White Oak is a good choice for wood flooring.

White Oak Flooring

White Oak Flooring in a Manhattan Apartment (NYC)


White Oak on Janka Wood Hardness Scale

The Janka Hardness Test is a method of testing wood hardness and resistance to damage. Understanding the wood’s durability is essential to choosing wood floors. Floors will always get a lot of wear. The higher a wood scores on the Janka Test, the better it will perform as a wood floor.

White Oak has a 1360 on the Janka Scale, making it strong and durable. Anything under 1,000 is not a suitable wood for flooring. But ideally, you want a floor over 1,300. For example, Red Oak has a 1,290 on the Jenka Scale. I personally would not advise on a floor weaker than Red Oak.

Wide Plank White Oak Flooring

Wide Plank White Oak Flooring


Versatility and Design

White oak can be treated in many different ways. You can stain white oak with a wide variety, from light to dark. The versatility makes it easy to find the right tone for your project. You can also refinish it over the years, changing the color later.

As an architect, I often suggest white oak floors, although other good options exist. I do find that many people like white oak.

Below, you can see a few samples of white oak. These are just a few options that we had in our office. I assure you there are many more finishes for white oak besides these. There is enough variety that you can make white oak work with many different design intents.

White Oak Color Samples

White Oak Color Samples


Wood Floor Options

Below, I will show you two different floor examples from two apartments we renovated. One will be a plain sawn eight-inch wide plank, and the other is a rift cut 10″ wide plank.

There are many different options you can go with on wood floors. The most important are:

  •  Wood Species
  • Wood Cut
  • Size of Plank
  • Color & Finish
  • Engineered vs. Solid Wood
  • Prefinished or Onsite Finish


Wood Species: In this post, we are discussing White Oak, which is an excellent option for a wood floor. There are other options, such as Hickory or Maple, that you may want to consider. Ultimately, selecting the wood species for your floor comes down to two main factors: durability and aesthetics. This is why I put white oak at the top of my list because I find it to be very durable and looks great.

Wood Cut: How the wood is cut from the tree will affect the look of the wood. Plain-sawn or live-cut lumber will have a lot more of a natural look, where you see a great deal of variation in the wood grain. A Rift and quartered woodcut will be much more uniform in the wood grain.

Size of the Plank: We often use wide plank floors. They just look more luxurious and more special. I really like to use wide planks of eight inches or more. One comment I want to make on a wide plank floor is that the bigger the space, the wider the floor you may want to use.

Color and Finish: White oak can receive a vast range of finishes, so color and finish are up to you.

Engineered vs. Solid Wood: Solid wood means your floor is one solid piece of wood. An engineered floor has a layer of hardwood on top and a different wood below. Depending on how this is made, the engineered wood can perform better because engineered wood can be more stable and less likely to expand and contract. I will warn you that there are different types of engineered wood floors and they are not all equal quality.

Prefinished or Onsite Finish Floors: The floor can be finished in the factory, which is prefinished or finished onsite. The best quality result will always be an onsite finished floor, but the prefinished floor can be very good, too. The final product depends on the quality of floor fabrication and installation. But I would go with an onsite finish if you want a perfectly smooth floor.

Plain Sawn Eight Inch Wide Plank White Oak Floor

Below is an example of a white oak floor from one of our projects where we designed and gut-renovated this Manhattan apartment.

In this project, we used an eight-inch plank. This is a nice size. I often recommend wide plank floors such as this. It has a great look. Wide plank floors are a more luxurious item that really enhances the space.

This floor is plain-sawn wood, meaning it has a lot of action in the grain and a very natural look.

Wide Plank White Oak Floors

Wide Plank White Oak Floors


Rift Cut Ten Inch Wide Plank White Oak Floor

The following example is of a loft in SoHo where we installed a ten-inch wide plank rift-cut floor. We used a ten-inch plank because this is a vast open space, and it was a bit more suitable for a loft. I typically think you should use a floor width that makes sense with the size of your space.

You will notice that this floor has a very uniform modern look. That is due to the cut. This floor is rift-cut, which results in a uniform look. It is very different from the plain-sawn organic look that you may be used to. Rift cut is a modern look that will come down to personal taste.

Rift Cut White Oak Floor

Rift Cut White Oak Floor


White Oak For Wood Floors

White oak is an excellent choice for wood floors. We often use it in our projects. It is solid and durable, with many options that can help you achieve a look that goes with your personal taste. I highly recommend white oak floors as one of my favorite options for hardwood floors.


Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on White Oak Flooring.

I hope this was helpful. Contact us at Fontan Architecture directly if you want to speak with an architect about a potential project.


Contact Fontan Architecture


Jorge Fontan

Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.