Hardwood floors fell out of favor in the past for several reasons. In the 1990s, they began to surge in prominence again. Now, hardwood floors are considered the height of style and luxury in a home. As hardwood came back into fashion, many of the most popular hardwood floors were made from imported woods. These imported woods are called exotic, and woods from the United States are called domestic. Some exotic woods such as mahogany and ebony are household names. So, why is oak one of the hottest hardwoods for flooring?
The Return of Domestics
White oak and red oak are two of the most common hardwoods in the United States. They can be found in forests all over the country. There are over two hundred species of each kind of tree. Red oak is slightly harder than white oak and slightly less porous, but they’re largely similar in their applications. They’re easy to work with, easy to stain, easy to sand, and easy to install. Furthermore, oak is popular because it is affordable.
When an exotic wood is purchased, it has to go through a serious process before it gets to your house. The wood is harvested by a company, shipped across several borders that might have tariffs, processed, and then shipped again. Any time a product crosses a border with a tariff or with a border adjustment tax, that is more expense added to the final cost of the hardwood. If it comes from Europe, it will have a value-added tax (VAT) applied. All of that accounts for higher prices.
Domestic woods, on the other hand, do not have nearly as many expenses. They do not have to be shipped across international borders; in many cases, they can be harvested from a forest that’s not very far from your home.
Some exotic woods are very popular because of factors such as hardness, grain patterns, and unique colors. However, those qualities are not completely absent from domestic hardwoods, including oak. The United States is an incredibly large country with almost every type of biome. That means almost every type of hardwood will grow somewhere in the United States. Furthermore, the United States has several different types of oak beyond just white oak and red oak. Those less common types of oak often have qualities that are desired in exotic woods.
Between red oak, white oak, and less common oak species, oak is one of the most exciting woods for the future.