3 Ways Natural White Oak is Changing Interior Design for 2020

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Natural White Oak floors are a staple of the flooring market and known for their durability, resilience, and versatility. Here at Carlisle, we love our White Oak hardwood flooring as much as anyone.  Explore the design options in this popular hardwood floor and pick up some design tips for your next project.


Light Oak Floor
Retreat Collection l Treehouse

Durability, Stability  & More

Natural White Oak hardwood flooring is best known for its durability, which depends on the type of tree it came from and where it was cut from on the tree.  Architects and engineers know that oak cut past a specific part of the Appalachian mountains is not going to be as hard, durable and stable as that of its northern counterparts.

How do you determine that your White Oak hardwood floor is durable and of the highest quality?  Look for characteristics like tight growth rings, high heart content, and long lengths, which show the wood came from the center of old, mature timbers.  Shorter, narrower boards come from the upper portion and branches of the tree, which imply an inferior product. This will impact the overall performance and longevity of your floor, as well as its durability and aesthetic.

It’s a proven fact that White Oak is more resistant to water than Red Oak.  White Oak is a closed-grain wood with many of its pores plugged with Tyloses, making it more resistant to water, decay, and rot. It’s important to remember this doesn’t mean it’s waterproof, so minimizing water and moisture and wiping up spills immediately will keep your floor looking and performing its best. Here’s an interesting demonstration by skilled Shipwright Louis Sauzedde that explains why White Oak is more water-resistant and has been the wood of choice for whiskey barrels and boat building for centuries.  Did you know that in the late 1700s, America’s first wooden warships used White Oak, including the U.S.S. Constitution, whose sides were entirely made of this hardwood and not iron?  Now that’s one sturdy hardwood.

White Oak Texture

Natural White Oak hardwood floors are one of the best species if you are considering a distressed wood floor.  Its rich grain and light tones naturally accept a variety of textures.  Increasing in popularity, the brushed wood texture will make new floorboards look like they have been lived on for generations, adding character and a sense of heritage to the floors.


Brushed white oak Textured Light Color Floor
Brushed White Oak l Butz & Klug Architecture

Another in style texture is a Footworn surface.  Durable hardwood floors like White Oak are more wear-resistant and won’t’ ding and dent like a  Pine floor.  If you want a slightly worn look to your floor, this may be the surface texture you are looking for.  Created by hand, this flooring technique will create soft undulating waves through the boards as if they had been walked on for centuries.

A more subtle version of our Footworn texture is Timeworn.  This has the same handcrafted process as our Footworn surface, with the undulations being softer in appearance and underfoot yet still creating an aged, timeless look.


Timeworn Textured Floor in a Farmhouse Kitchen
Timeworn Texture

Hand-Scraped Edges may be the right texture if you are considering a relaxed look and using planks over 7″ wide.  Hand-scraped techniques are done by hand for an authentic look and feel just like the original Pine floors were over 200 years ago.

White Oak Color Options

One of the most challenging decisions to make is what color to stain your White Oak hardwood floor or simply leave it au natural with a clear finish.  The choice is entirely based on your aesthetic and preferences as quality White Oak takes stain very well when prefinished or site finished as long as it’s applied correctly.

Light wood floors continue to be a hot trend in hardwood flooring, especially on White Oak.  From natural and muted tones that give your space a raw, organic look to the increasingly popular whitewash that creates a relaxed vibe, light wood floor color options reflect light and will brighten and open up your space.  These light color tones are perfect for many design styles from contemporary to the wildly popular modern farmhouse.  And it’s not just about the look.  These light colors are known to show less dirt, scratches, and dents than darker wood floors, which means less cleaning and maintenance.


White Stained Oak Floor
Custom White Oak l Whitewash

Medium wood floors are the perfect balance between light and dark wood flooring and, in terms of investment, will appeal to most home-buyers if you ever decide to sell. Medium wood floors tend to be more versatile and will work with just about any design style from modern to rustic.   And as you can see, it’s not just shades of brown anymore!


Medium tone gray floor
Urban Collection l Granite Dream

Dark wood floors create an overall elegant and luxurious feel and will highlight the prominent grain that quality White Oak hardwood is known for.  Create contrast in your interior by pairing white or light-colored cabinets, walls or furniture with a dark wood floor for a dramatic effect.  There is one major drawback to dark hardwood floor colors.  They tend to show footprints, dog hair, dust and scratches more than light wood floors and will require more regular cleaning and maintenance.  But if you love the look, they are worth it!


Dark Stained Oak Floor
Custom White Oak l Bromley Caldari Architects

Looking for more flooring inspiration? Here are a few projects with custom wood floors from a Miami beachfront to a pop culture-infused estate in Pittsburgh, PA:

Custom White Oak in a Minimalist Dallas Residence

Custom White Oak Floors in Plank & Herringbone in Boston Suburb

Custom Engineered White Oak in Miami Beachfront Condo

White Oak Flooring in a Stunning Georgetown Residence

Custom Gray White Oak in Pop Culture-Infused Estate

Dark White Oak in a Chicago Waldorf Astoria Residence

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