About French Oak Flooring
There's a certain beauty to rustic flooring – the exposed character marks, the slightly rough appearance, the implications of age – and these qualities naturally surface in French oak hardwood. Although often called European oak flooring on occasion, this hardwood grabs attention through its aged look, wire-brushed texture, and overall striking appearance.
Demand for exotic species surged roughly 20 years ago, with French oak growing a niche in the Northeast. Now, as the hardwood has become more commonplace, consumers seek it out not solely for its exotic qualities but for its carefully-worn patina.
Although French oak may be related to its American counterparts, certain differences set it apart. From a visual perspective, the "cathedral" grain is one of the most significant. What this means is, each plank features a range of grains, from straight to quarter sawn and rift sawn to plain sawn. Overall, tighter, narrower grain pervades, with emphasis on a flat and rift appearance.
To capture this particular characteristic, logs are "live sawn," or sawn straight through. Planks, as a result, display the full range of grain patterns, as well as character marks like color variation and knots.
However, other qualities differentiate French and European oaks from their American counterparts. Rather than the light tan or subtly red looks of white or red oak, respectively, a yellowish amber shade characterizes hardwoods from across the Atlantic.
Although, on this side of the pond, white oak is said to have greater tannin content, French oak exceeds this. Tannin may keep the insects away, but for wine makers, it's a particularly desirable quality. As such, French oak gets used to construct wine barrels, and in return, these structures may serve as the basis for reclaimed flooring.
Tannin, on the other hand, influences how a stain reacts with the hardwood. If you decide to stain and finish the floors yourself, you will likely notice certain different, less-typical tones and colors surface, especially when compared to American oak species.
For purchasing French oak flooring, the French Collection from Garrison is available through Hurst Hardwoods. The selection of seven-inch wide plank engineered flooring features random lengths and a lifetime-maintainable oil finish. All European French white oak comes unfinished or prefinished, with a choice of several light and dark stains.
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