Are you looking for a classic, affordable, and durable antique flooring that will make you and your family feel like proud homeowners? Oak hardwood flooring is an ever-popular inspiration for hardwood floors. This timeless flooring provides you with an appealing, antique style that is sure to add warmth and depth to any room.
Below, you will learn about the most common oak woods to choose from, how to pick the right size, how to install the perfect oak hardwood floors, and how to maintain your hardwood flooring for years to come. You will walk away inspired and knowledgeable of all things hardwood!
White vs Red Oak Hardwood Flooring
While there are many types of oak wood antique flooring, white and red oak floors are the most popular species of oak. Both oaks are durable, as oak is one of the hardest woods on the market, yet there are some differences:
White Oak Flooring
White oak hardwood flooring is the harder of the two kinds of wood and is great for those looking for luxury in their floorboards. It can range in color from almost white to a tan-brown. Its straight grains have long, dark lines that are less vivid than its red oak competitor. These fine grains give the wood a smooth and elegant appearance that sophisticates any living space.
Red Oak Flooring
Red oak hardwood flooring offers bolder color variations than white oak. From yellows and oranges to reds and browns, red oak is timeless and versatile. It also features zig-zag or wavy grain patterns that are great for hiding scratches. Though weaker than white oak, red oak is only slightly less durable and still has much to offer. Personal preference for style and color is usually the deciding factor in choosing between the two.
Engineered vs. Solid Wood Flooring
Now that you know the two types of oak woods, it’s time to consider the hardwood itself. There are two options to choose from: engineered or solid. Both options have pros and cons, as you will soon see.
Engineered wood flooring contains many layers of wood. The top layer is the wood of your choice, while the other layers often consist of plywood. This layering effect allows the flooring to handle high levels of humidity. It won’t shrink, nor will it expand, making it a durable option for those in humid climates.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood, on the other hand, is exactly as it sounds. It is a solid piece of wood that can be sanded down and stained time and time again. Solid hardwood, however, does not handle weather changes well. It will shrink or expand, depending on humidity and temperature. This can make it harder to install properly to prevent warping.
There are many sizing options when it comes to floorboards. Boards measuring less than 3 inches wide have been a traditional sizing choice that many choose for the classic appeal that it brings to any given space. The latest trends, however, are to choose floorings that are slightly over 3 inches wide. This is an easy way to create an open feeling in the home.
What better way to create a sense of space than to simply install wide floorboards? If you want a country-style feel, you can even take it a step farther. By choosing a board wider than 4 inches, your living space will really get that rustic, country aesthetic.
Prefinished vs Unfinished Wood
You’ve picked the oak wood flooring of your dreams. There is one last factor to consider before you purchase the wood for installation. You’ll find that some wood boards are prefinished, or already sanded, stained, finished, and layered with protective substances to keep them safe from wear. Other boards, however, are unfinished and will need to be completed onsite.
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
How much time you want to spend completing your hardwood floors is a huge deal. Prefinished oak hardwood flooring is ready to go and needs only to be delivered to the site and applied. Since you’re buying the finished product, you know exactly what you’re buying, allowing you to accurately imagine how the floorboards will look once installed.
The downside to prefinished wood is that it’s already been stained and coated, so you can’t customize it to your artisan heart’s content without painstakingly sanding it down and reapplying the desired finishing touches.
Unfinished Hardwood Flooring
Unfinished wood, on the other hand, allows you to stain the wood to the colors you see fit, adding personal touches that make your wood flooring just the right color and finish. It also gives your floors a smoother appearance because sanding the wood after installation levels the wood more effectively than purchasing prefinished oak floorboards, which are fixed.
Unfinished oak hardwood is more time-consuming to complete than prefinished wood, as it will need to be prepared either DIY-style or with a contractor. If your carpentry skills aren’t up to par, hiring a contractor to do the job might be the best option. Doing so, however, adds additional costs to your flooring installation process, which might affect your choice to use unfinished floorboards.
Whichever you choose is bound to be the right option for your particular needs. In other words, don’t strive to do a DIY project if storing the wood, finding the right supplies for sanding, staining, waxing, varnishing, and applying other wood flooring techniques is too much trouble. But, also don’t settle for a prefinished wood that doesn’t match the color of your perfect flooring.
Finishing an Unfinished Hardwood Flooring
If you’re an avid DIYer, the risk outweighs the reward when it comes to finishing your own floors. There’s just something about seeing a project through to completion that makes the process very rewarding. Let’s take a look at how to finish unfinished oak hardwood.
First thing’s first: you need to install the flooring. Contrary to popular belief, floor installation can’t just be placed down. It needs to be prepared. Here are the steps for installing hardwood flooring:
Step 1: Install Subflooring
Setting a solid foundation is paramount to having a good, finished product. To do this, start with priming your subflooring, which is generally a layer of plywood that goes down before installing any hardwood. Ensure all subflooring is level by smoothing and filling in any uneven spots. This prevents your boards from creaking when weight is applied to them.
Step 2: Apply Underlayment
Underlayment is used to cushion and insulate flooring. Lay a moisture barrier on top of the subflooring to prevent your oak floorboards from warping or separating when humidity and temperatures change. Water-resistant vinyl or plastic sheets are the most commonly used moisture barriers for hardwood floors.
Avoid over-applying underlayment, as this can weaken the connection between your floorboards, leading to separation.
Step 3: Install Hardwood Floors
With all of the preparation, it is now time to install your oak hardwood flooring. For solid hardwood flooring, you will likely need to nail the boards into the flooring substrate. Engineered hardwood flooring, however, tends to have a tongue-and-groove installation process that either clicks the planks together or can be glued onto the underlayment.
If your subflooring is not plywood, you might find yourself unable to use the nailing process to install hardwood floorboards. The click-lock installation option is best used for concrete, tile, or heat-releasing subflooring, so be sure to factor in these variances prior to the installation process.
Sanding your hardwood flooring is an essential step in ridding the wood from unwanted splinters, scratches, blemishes, and bumps. Likewise, if you’re hoping to refinish hardwood floorboards that you already have, sanding refinished wood is often the first step.
To sand your oak hardwood flooring, you will need a few tools: a sander or sanding block and sandpaper.
- The best way to stain wood is to prepare the wood surface by sanding it with a sanding block or orbital sander, which you can easily rent from a hardware store.
- Start with coarse sandpaper and then work your way to a finer grit until your floorboards are nice and smooth. For new wood, you will want to use a very coarse grit, such as 80-grit sandpaper, to get rid of large crevices and spots.
- Evenly sand your boards down, giving special attention to any imperfections. If you are refinishing your floorboards, you can start with 120-grit sandpaper. The lower the grit number, the rougher your wood will be, which means that, if you decide to stain your wood later, it will absorb more stain, making it darker in color.
- Then, thoroughly wipe the sawdust and discarded sandpaper grit with a damp rag until your floorboards are free of any dirt.
- Lastly, brush your boards clean to loosen up any unwanted particles that found their way into your floorboards to ensure it’s clean.
Once it’s sanded and smooth, you can then decide whether or not you wish to stain your floorboards. Some types of floorboards do not tolerate staining as well as other types. Maple, birch, pine, and other softwoods don’t stain well, so many people choose not to stain them. Eco flooring such as bamboo and cork can also be challenging to stain.
Though most hardwood stains better than softwood, hickory and cherry are the exceptions. Hickory can be stained, but it is more of a challenge, while Brazilian cherry darkens naturally over time, so your end product may turn out darker than you’d originally planned.
Acacia, ash, teak, walnut, and mahogany are hardwood options that stain well, though some of the exotic wood options can be expensive. Oak, in particular, is an extremely popular hardwood floor choice because it is affordable, porous, and stains well. Take these factors into account before you decide to stain your floorboards.
If you do decide to stain them, here’s what you will need to do:
Firstly, vacuum your floorboards to get rid of any dust that came up from the sanding process. Even better, try out the Champion Old Fashioned Dust Mop! It’s a good idea to also wipe the floors with a damp towel to get any remaining sawdust off. Wiping with a damp towel also raises the grain, which is going to happen anyway, once you stain it.
Choose a Base
Before you get down to choosing a stain color, take into consideration the type of base you will be using for your stain. Oil-based stains are more likely to seep deep into the pores of your floorboards while also keeping the grain low. Water-based stains, on the other hand, have a more even stain. They’re also more likely to be environmentally-friendly.
You can also choose a gel stain, which is the thickest type of stain. If you’re in a hurry, there are wood stains that dry fast that are available on the market, as well.
Choose a Color
Once you’ve selected a base, it’s time to choose a color. There are many color choices on the market when it comes to finding the right stain. Staining your wood will bring out the beauty and unique patterns on your floorboards. It can even change the colors if you wish to add hues to the wood.
Honey or golden stains are popular for those who want a warm, lighter stain. Chestnut or tan stains are also a popular color choice for home spaces. This medium brown stain is darker than honey gold, but still a rich option.
Apply the Stain
Then, apply the stain. To do this, get a paintbrush or cloth to administer the stain. Do not shake the can before opening the can, as this can cause there to be air bubbles in your stain, which will show up on the wood. Instead, gently stir the can with the paintbrush. Then, wipe or squeeze the excess stain from the applicator before applying the stain in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the floorboards.
It doesn’t matter whether you go with or against the grain, so long as you are applying plenty of stain to your wood. Start with thin layers and then work on applying more stain until the desired color is achieved.
Wipe the Wood
The last step is to wipe the excess stain off the wood. If you don’t want a dark stain, it’s probably best to combine steps 4 and 5 by staining the floorboards in sections and then pausing to wipe the wood with a rag, old t-shirt, or any other clean cloth as you go. This will prevent your boards from absorbing too much of the stain.
The final step to completing your DIY oak hardwood flooring is to apply a finish. Finishing your hardwood floors protects your floors from being scratched by dog nails, heavy furniture, and other sharp or heavy objects. It also prevents your stain from fading over time.
Here’s the how-to on finishing your hardwood flooring:
- The two most popular types of wood finishes you can use on your nearly finished (or refinished) hardwood floors are water-based and oil-based polyurethane finishes. Polyurethane finishes are great at providing your floorboards with a waterproof sealant that will protect them from humidity.
Water-based finishes are fast-drying and therefore can be difficult to apply evenly. Oil-based finishes, on the other hand, are easy to apply a smooth coat to hardwood floors, taking about 24 hours to fully dry. However, an oil-based wood finish requires good ventilation and even a respirator for the application process.
- After you’ve chosen your finish and have tested it in a discrete location, apply the finish using a long lambswool applicator. Be sure to press down on the pad for an even distribution of your finish. Some people like to end it here, but most finishes need to be applied 3-4 times.
- In between each application of your finish, gently sand your wood floorboards with 220-grit sandpaper. You can also use #000 steel wool to sand your boards. Wipe clean before applying the additional finishing coats.
And, there you have it! Your beautiful floorboards are complete.
How to Maintain Hardwood Flooring
You’ve done it. You’ve finally completed your hardwood floors. Whether you decided to go all-in and DIY it, or whether you went for the easier of the two choices, installing new oak hardwood flooring is a timely (and costly) manner. After all of the expenses, time, and effort, you’ll definitely want to maintain your beautiful hardwood flooring.
But, how do you best maintain hardwood floors?
Here at Champion Supplies, we’ve got your floorboards covered (literally!) Check out a few of our hardwood maintenance supplies that will keep your floors looking beautiful for years to come.
Champion Cleaning Supplies
Maintaining your beautiful oak hardwood flooring starts with the quality of your cleaning products. The Champion Ultra Concentrated Degreaser is designed to make cleaning your home a breeze. Our ever-popular degreaser is strong but gentle. Made in the US from safe, 100% biodegradable ingredients, our chemical and phosphate-free solution won’t damage your septic tanks like other degreasers on the market.
Though many like to use our degreaser on their kitchen and bathroom countertops, porcelain, and even on ceramic décor, this product can be used on all kinds of hard surfaces, including your hardwood floors!
To clean your hardwood floors or laminate, you only need to use a small amount of the solution to achieve a thorough cleaning. Do not mop loads of water onto your floors, as this can warp your floorboards. Instead, using a spray bottle, lightly spray water mixed with a very diluted amount of Champion’s Degreaser onto vacuumed floors.
Durable, High-Quality Mops
In combination with our Ultra Concentrated Degreaser, the Champion Super Yellow Mop is the best way to clean your floor. This mop is perfect for stairs, tile, ceramic, porcelain, wood- you name it! Our best-seller will not scratch your floors.
Built to last, the Champion Super Yellow Mop doesn’t use woven material like other mops. Its nonwoven fibers are ultra-absorbent and can soak up 5 times the weight of the fibers. This means less wringing on your part.
It’s lightweight and built to last so that you don’t have to work harder to achieve a clean home.
For the perfect dusting mop, we also have the Champion Old Fashioned Dust Mop. Our old-fashioned mophead catches dust from hard-to-reach areas of your home and doesn’t release particles into the air like traditional mops. This is because each strand of retro-colored yarn has an electromagnetic charge that creates a static that attracts dust to it.
You don’t even have to wash this old-fashioned mop, though you certainly can if you want! Just take it outside and give it a shake to release the dust.
Oak hardwood flooring is a classic choice for one’s home. You won’t regret the durable, clean-looking, and affordable floorboards once you see that finished product. Whether you chose red or white oak wood, this choice of flooring is a great long-term investment.
We hope our tips on how to choose oak wood, how to select the best board sizes, and how to install the best oak hardwood flooring for your home helped you get on the right track for completing the antique style flooring of your dreams.
Once you’ve got your floorboards installed, we also hope you love how Champion products provide you with safe, eco-friendly cleaning supplies that will keep your floorboards clean and vibrant for years to come!
For 40 years, Champion Supplies has provided customers with solutions to their cleaning problems through the use of unique high-performance products, the majority of which are made in the USA. Our philosophy has always been to custom make, source, and market products of the highest quality that are typically not available in stores.