Oak flooring is incredibly popular in practically every application. Oak is one of the most common woods used in hardwood flooring throughout the world. In the United States, domestic oaks are white oak and red oak. In Europe, the most common oak is European Oak, also known as English Oak. They’re two different species of the same tree. If you are looking to buy a new hardwood floor, you’ll need to decide between European and American oaks.
The most obvious difference between European and American oak is the source of the wood. American oak is a hardwood grown in temperate climates throughout the United States. That mostly means the Eastern United States and Canada. European oak is also grown in temperate climates; mainly, it is grown in France and the UK.
Both species of oak are similar in color and tone, but American oak tends to be lighter in color. Typically, it is whitish with slightly pink tones. European oak is warmer in color, closer to gold.
Every type of hardwood will vary in terms of color and grain; they’re natural product and thus, prone to variations from tree to tree. However, European oak tends to be more evenly color and consistent from plank to plank. American oak shows greater variation in tone and color. That could be a benefit for someone who wants a unique floor that looks interesting and eclectic. European oak will lend itself better to someone who wants an incredibly consistent floor.
Pattern of the Grain
The grain pattern is the greatest visual difference between the two kinds of oak. American oak has tight, straight grains that are fairly subtle. European grains are wavy and distinctive. European oak planks are scattered with burrs and pips throughout.
Fuming oak, also known as smoking, involves exposing the oak to an ammonia-rich environment. The ammonia draws the wood’s natural tannins to the surface, making the wood look richer and darker. The added depth of color is very desirable to many homeowners. American oak, however, is very inconsistent in its response to fuming. European oak accepts the fuming very well, producing a rich, dark color that is comparable to walnut.
In conclusion, European oak is more consistent in terms of color and tone. It has a distinctive grain pattern, and it responds very well to fuming. American oak is less consistent but has a subtler grain pattern. It does not respond as well to fuming. European oak will likely cost slightly more because it has to be shipped across the Atlantic Ocean.