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French Oak vs White American Oak Flooring: Everything You Need to Know

Oak Flooring

If you’ve been contemplating which oak flooring option would work best for your home, we’re here to make that choice a little bit easier.

In this blog post, we’re taking a closer look at two highly sought-after types of hardwood flooring: French Oak and White American Oak.

Let’s get started!

What is French Oak Flooring?

French Oak flooring is a type of hardwood flooring that comes from the Quercus petraea and Quercus robur tree species, found mainly in the forests of France.

Each plank is a work of natural art, featuring a distinctive grain, warm hues, and an inherently chic appeal that beautifully mirrors the essence of classic French style.

French Oak is renowned for its tight grain pattern and rich tannin content, which contributes to its durability and unique reaction to staining. Over time, French Oak develops a patina that only adds to its character, making it a highly valued material in the flooring industry.

What About European Oak?

Before we venture into American Oak, let’s take a quick detour to talk about European Oak. You might be asking, “Isn’t French Oak a type of European Oak?” And you’d be right! French Oak is a subset of European Oak, sourced specifically from France.

European Oak, which can come from any country within Europe, is known for its wider grain pattern and generally lighter color than its American counterpart. Its toughness and durability, like French Oak, make it a fantastic choice for flooring that sees a lot of foot traffic.

The Charm of American Oak Flooring

Now, moving across the Atlantic, let’s talk about American Oak. This hardwood is harvested from the Quercus alba species, primarily found across the Eastern U.S.

American Oak flooring is known for its warm and rich color, varying from light blonde hues to deep browns, and a more pronounced grain pattern than European or French Oak.

One of American Oak’s unique features is its broader, more swirling grain, which gives it a distinctively rustic appeal. Also, its inherent hardness and strength make it a durable, long-lasting choice for flooring in any space.

French Oak vs. American Oak: The Main Differences

Let’s get to the heart of the matter – what sets French Oak and American Oak apart?

Grain and Color

As mentioned earlier, French Oak tends to have a tighter, more refined grain pattern, while American Oak shows a broader, more prominent grain. In terms of color, French Oak leans towards more natural, warm tones, often with a grey undertone, while American Oak showcases a wider color palette, ranging from light blonde to deep, rich browns.


Both French and American Oak are highly durable options, but due to its higher tannin content, French Oak is often considered slightly more resilient to wear and tear.


Each type of Oak takes finishing differently. Thanks to its higher tannin content, French Oak has a unique reaction to fuming – a process of color modification – which can result in anything from rich, amber tones to cooler, modern greys. American Oak, on the other hand, is often finished with a clear sealant to show off its natural, rustic beauty.

And What About the Price?

Price can be a deciding factor for many. As a general rule, French Oak (and European Oak in general) tends to be pricier than American Oak. The reasons include transport costs, more expensive forestry practices in Europe, and the desirability of the material.

However, the exact price will depend on factors like the grade of the wood, the finish, and where you’re purchasing it from.

White Oak: An Affordable, Elegant Alternative to French Oak

We all agree that French Oak flooring holds a certain charm and elegance. However, the reality of its cost can sometimes make it a challenging choice for homeowners working with a budget.

Enter White Oak, a fantastic, less expensive alternative that doesn’t skimp on beauty or durability.

Let’s delve into the world of White Oak flooring and explore why it’s a worthy contender to French Oak.

The Allure of White Oak Flooring

White Oak, scientifically named Quercus alba, is primarily sourced from the Eastern United States. It boasts an array of appealing features, starting with its broad, swirling grain that gives each plank a unique personality. Its color palette spans from light, creamy hues to darker, amber tones that can add warmth and depth to any room.

Just like French Oak, White Oak exhibits a tight grain pattern, although it leans towards a straighter, less wavy design. This results in a clean and uniform look, allowing the floor to seamlessly blend into a variety of interior styles – from rustic to contemporary.

White Oak Flooring Durability and Resistance

Another aspect where White Oak truly shines is durability. It has a high hardness rating, making it more resistant to dents and scratches compared to other types of hardwood flooring. This feature makes it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas or households with pets and children.

What’s more, White Oak is known for its impressive water resistance, a characteristic uncommon in many hardwoods. Its cellular structure prevents water absorption, making it a viable choice for more humid climates or spaces like kitchens where water exposure is common.

A Palette of Finishing Options

One of the key considerations when choosing your hardwood flooring is how well it can adopt different finishes, and this is another area where White Oak excels. It accepts stains exceptionally well, offering you a wide spectrum of color options to suit your style.

Whether you prefer a natural, clear sealant finish to showcase its authentic charm or a darker stain for a more sophisticated appeal, White Oak can cater to all your aesthetic preferences.

White American Oak Sustainability and Availability

Sustainability is a crucial aspect to consider, and White Oak doesn’t disappoint. It is responsibly harvested in the U.S., reducing carbon emissions related to transportation compared to imported options like French Oak.

Plus, the plentiful supply of White Oak in the American market makes it more readily available and less subject to price fluctuations.

Affordability Without Compromising Quality

The biggest selling point of White Oak is undoubtedly its affordability. It offers a similar level of charm, durability, and versatility as French Oak but at a significantly lower price point.

This makes it an excellent choice for homeowners seeking an economical solution without compromising on aesthetics or quality.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, White Oak flooring is a beautiful, durable, and budget-friendly alternative to French Oak. Its unique characteristics, coupled with its ability to suit various finishes, make it a versatile option for any home.

Whether you’re renovating on a budget, or you just love the distinctive appeal of White Oak, it’s a choice that guarantees to bring timeless elegance to your space.

Remember, choosing the right flooring is a personal journey. Consider the practical needs of your home, your budget, and your taste.

Whether you opt for the luxury of French Oak or the affordable elegance of White Oak, you’ll be investing in a floor that will serve you well for years to come. Happy flooring shopping!

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