The Newbie’s Guide to Solid Oak Flooring

Think solid oak flooring would look fantastic in your home but haven’t a clue whether it’s right for you? In this post we answer some of the most common questions we get asked about this type of flooring, from what it is to where it can and can’t be used, and why. Have a read to learn more about solid oak and discover whether it could make the perfect choice of flooring for your space.


What is solid oak flooring?

Let’s start with the basics. Solid oak flooring is made from planks that are comprised of a single piece of milled oak. These planks can vary in thickness, width and length depending on the supplier. They can also differ in appearance depending on their finish. Oiled and Urethane are the most common types of finish with each creating a fairly distinct result. Finishing also enhances the oak’s color and adds long-lasting protection.

What are the benefits of solid oak flooring?

Oak wood is valued for its rich golden color and hardwearing properties. It’s a durable, reliable wood with the classic knots and swirling grain patterns that have always defined a traditional wood floor. As oak ages, it also becomes richer and deeper in color making for a floor that lives and grows with you throughout your lifetime and adds a true touch of nature to your home.

Natural solid oak flooring can also be sanded down and refinished, allowing you to refresh your floor multiple times over many years. This is a great benefit if you’d like to lay oak floor in a high-traffic area or if you have pets. Alternatively, there’s also nothing unusual about allowing your wood floor to mature naturally. Signs of wear can add extra character and a sense of heritage to the planks.

How is solid oak flooring fitted?

Solid oak flooring is typically engineered with tongue and groove joints that allow each of the planks to be slotted together for a neat surface. The planks are glued either directly to the subfloor or glued at their joints. In no cases are the planks glued both underneath and between joints as this doesn’t allow for natural movement in the wood.
Tongue and groove solid wood planks can also be nailed down over an existing timber subfloor or (subject to thickness) fixed directly above joists to provide a structural floor.

In any case, the subfloor must be carefully prepared. Leveling, moisture levels and any issues with damp should all be considered and controlled prior to installation.


Is solid oak flooring suitable for any room in the home?

Oak is a durable wood that will perform for more than a lifetime in many rooms of the home. The flooring is a great option for living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and hallways, with its golden tones bringing a lovely sense of warmth to beneath the feet.

The only room that isn’t suitable for solid oak flooring is the bathroom. This space is regularly subject to changing levels of moisture: conditions that don’t bode well with the floor. Wood naturally absorbs and releases moisture from the air and while doing so, its fibers expand and contract. In unstable conditions with fluctuating humidity (such as in the bathroom) oak planks are at risk of this kind of movement and fitting oak in such conditions can result in gaping or cupping in the floor.

Is solid oak flooring suitable for underfloor heating?

Solid oak flooring doesn’t make a great pal for underfloor heating, for the same reasons that we don’t recommend it in bathrooms. As these planks are comprised of a single solid piece of natural wood that’s sensitive to the moisture in its environment, they aren’t stable enough to manage the fluctuations in humidity that arise from heating beneath the floor.

Engineered wood flooring is the solution to pairing wood with underfloor heating.

Is solid oak flooring suitable for pets?

There’s no reason why solid oak flooring shouldn’t be chosen for homes with pets but there are a few things to bear in mind. These floors have high finishes which help to protect them from small scratches and wet shakes after walks. As oak is a smooth flooring, it’s also much easier to clean than a carpet and doesn’t harbor the dirt or bacteria in the same way that a carpet does.

Of course, as with any floor, there’s always the risk of some damage from your furry friends. To try and minimize this risk, we recommend choosing an oiled solid oak floor as scratches are less visible and more easily repaired with this finish. It’s also best practice to keep claws trim and to clean up any little accidents immediately to avoid any staining or distortion in your floor. Plus, it’s always a good idea to keep coir matting at doorways and to ensure your pet is wiped clean and dry when coming in from outside.


Think solid oak flooring is right for you?

Discover Woodpecker Solid Oak Flooring

Our collections of solid oak flooring are designed to provide style and long-term reliability in your home. The York range includes traditional solid oak boards with tongue and groove joints, 5 coats of durable UV Urethane or oil and random lengths for a truly traditional look. Oak floors are available in natural golden tones, refined or rustic plank styles and unusual stains. Explore York.

Our alternative collection is Barafundle: these unique floors are versatile and innovative. They’re completely solid all the way through but comprised of a three-layer engineered construction for ultimate stability. Their structure also allows them to be fitted with a glueless ‘drop and lock’ joint. Explore Barafundle Natural, Whitened, Dark and Cognac oak here.