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The Cost of Oak Hardwood Floors: A Comprehensive Guide
It's Oak-tober! We are celebrating all things Oak at Steller this month and since solid oak hardwoods are the undisputed king of flooring, here we discuss the overall cost of oak hardwood floors, and why they are the preferred choice for interiors. Our guide provides all the information you need before making a decision, and shows why a Steller Oak Floor is one of the best choices in the market.
Why Oak Hardwood Floors are Popular
Oak hardwood floors have long been popular due to their timeless beauty and durability. The natural grain patterns and warm tones of oak add a touch of elegance to any space. Oak is also known for its strength, making it a suitable choice for exposure to pets and high-traffic areas. Additionally, oak hardwood floors are versatile and can complement various interior design styles, from traditional to modern. With proper care and maintenance, oak floors can last for decades, making them a worthwhile investment.
Another reason for the popularity of oak hardwood floors is their ability to increase the value of a home. Real estate experts often recommend hardwood flooring as a desirable feature that can attract potential buyers and increase the overall market value of a property. Oak, in particular, is highly regarded for its classic appeal and is often associated with upper-middle class luxury and quality. If you're interested in alternatives to oak, we have a complete list of the hardwood floor species that we offer here at Steller.
Several factors can influence the cost of installing oak hardwood floors. First, the quality of the oak itself plays a significant role. Higher-quality oak, such as Steller Floors' wide-plank, FAS and Better, solid oak, tends to be more expensive than engineered oak. Solid oak is made from a single piece of wood and is known for its durability and authenticity. Engineered oak, on the other hand, consists of a layer of hardwood on top of a composite core, making it more affordable.
The grade of the oak also affects the cost. Clear or select grade oak, which has minimal knots and blemishes, is typically more expensive than lower grades, such as cabin or character grade, which have knots and irregular grain patterns. The width and thickness of the oak planks can also impact the cost, with wider and thicker planks generally being pricier.
Other factors that can affect the cost include the finish of the oak, the installation method (nailed down, glued down, or floating), any additional treatments or customization, and the location and accessibility of the installation site.
Oak Hardwood Floors: Quartered or Flat Sawn, White Oak or American Oak?
When you compare the different types of solid oak hardwood floors, there are several distinctions that can make small differences in the final look and durability of your flooring - but may strongly affect cost. The first distinction is White Oak versus American Oak. Both species of tree are widely abundant in our area in central Pennsylvania, but prices are dependent on what is popular in the market.
In general, White Oak is considered to be slightly harder than American Oak, and while some White Oak planks can be easily mistaken for American Oak planks, White Oak occasionally has sandy blonde tones (similar to the color of dried straw), versus occasional golden and rose tones of American Oak flooring. Interestingly, these (often tiny) distinctions result in an almost 100% price increase in White Oak over American Oak.
Both American Oak and White Oak can be sawn in different patterns that result in differing grain patterns. Most wood floors are flat-sawn because it makes maximal use of the wood in the tree. This sawing pattern also results in what are called "cathedral" grain patterns and reflect traditional, cost-effective aesthetics.
Alternatively, if you are more interested in a modern, linear grain pattern, quarter-sawn is a great choice. While all oak wood responds similarly to water and humidity, quartersawn materials respond more evenly along its length. That's also why quarters awn varieties are generally preferred for use over subfloor heat. These materials are distinctive because you can also see "ray fleck" ribbons that shimmer in the light. For more details on why Kim chose quartersawn white oak in her home, check out the video below!
Comparing the Cost of Oak Hardwood Floors to Other Flooring Options
When comparing the cost of oak hardwood floors to other flooring options, it is important to consider the long-term value and durability of oak. While the upfront cost of oak hardwood floors may be higher than some alternatives, such as laminate or vinyl, oak offers superior quality and longevity.
For instance, carpet, another popular flooring choice, may have a lower upfront cost, but it generally needs to be replaced more frequently due to wear and stains - these costs increase during the lifetime of the space versus more long-lived options. Tile flooring, while durable, can be more expensive to install and may require regular maintenance to keep the grout clean and intact. Maintenance for tile can also be costly if large tiles crack and need to be replaced.
Ultimately, the cost of oak hardwood floors is an investment in the beauty and value of your home. The timeless appeal and durability of oak make it a worthwhile choice that can enhance the overall aesthetic and marketability of your property.
Tips for Budgeting and Saving on Oak Hardwood Floors
While oak hardwood floors may have a higher upfront cost, there are several tips and strategies to help budget and save on the overall expenses. With Steller Floors, you can consider the differences between our Heirloom and Sylva product lines carefully. Steller Heirloom products are made at a full 3/4" which allows them to be refinished more times throughout their lives -- products in this line are designed to last over 100 years. If you are looking to save on cost, you might consider our Sylva Oak product line, which is 5/8" thick. These floors are made with the same Steller commitment to craftsmanship, but this product line is simply designed to have individual planks replaced instead of refinished.
Today, our Steller Sylva product line starts at $7.99/sqft and is directly competitive with big box store materials that are 5 inches wide and prefinished. Moreover, when you choose Steller, you're choosing a product that has less overage requires (2-3% versus 10-15%), is sealed on all sides, and is made in the USA. With all of those additional benefits, you might consider upgrading to our Heirloom products simply because you know the upgrade is worth it!
Another way to save on costs is to consider doing some of the installation work yourself. However, it's important to note that installing traditional hardwood floors requires skill and precision. Luckily, with Steller Hardwood Floors that float over the subfloor without nails or glue, installation is easy DIY or Pro. If you choose to go the DIY route, our team is here to help with complementary zoom calls as you are getting started. We have assisted hundreds of clients including DIY homeowners and professionals during their assembly process.
As you might expect, properly maintaining and caring for your oak hardwood floors can help extend their lifespan and reduce the need for costly repairs or replacements. Regular cleaning, avoiding excessive moisture, and using protective furniture pads can all contribute to the longevity of your oak floors. Plus, with a Steller Floor, you have the additional benefit of being able to replace planks individually instead of needing to repair, refinish or replace the entire floor, which can save thousands of dollars during the life of your floor.
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