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What is European oak? and how to choose the right one?

European Oak has been the go-to floor covering option for the past three to five years. Although it has much saturated the market, the demand has not decreased. With price ranges from around four dollars per sq.ft to upwards of thirteen dollars, it has become rather difficult for average consumers to understand what kind of “European oak” they are looking at. Here are some over simplified pointers for you.
The market craze of European oak actually comes from the demand of French Oak. Different from the oak we’ve seen in the market, true French oak requires origin verification and only part of the log can be used for flooring. Therefore, the cost of French Oak can easily be two to three times the cost of standard oak. To make it affordable, manufacturers begin to use European oak to mimic the looks of the French Oak. So do not mistake European oak with French oak. It is virtually impossible to obtain true French oak under ten dollars per sq.ft. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your next European oak flooring:
1. Thickness: just like any engineered flooring, the thickness of the veneer affects the price. It typically ranges from 2mm to 6mm. Although 2mm is the standard, you will see a lot of “price point” products come in less than 2mm veneer.
2. Grading: this is probably the most overlooked element. Most customers make purchases based on the samples presented in the showrooms. A lot of these samples cannot clearly demonstrate how the actual product may look. Rustic grade lumbers are typically cheaper than Select grade. So make sure you ask your flooring retailer about the grading of the products. Pay extra attention on how the knots are filled with what color of filler. This will affect the final result of the flooring greatly.
3. Consistency: although color variation is normal, some of the flooring will come in complete different color tone than the store sample. Due to the huge demand, smaller importers will have to rely on multiple sources to acquire lumber. This results in inconsistency in color. I will strongly advise consumers to compare the store sample again the actual product received and see if the variation in color is within acceptable range.
Like many consumer products, there are tons of options when it comes to hardwood flooring. It’s always better to choose products from reliable, reputable manufactures/importers that will stand behind their products. I can honestly say with my years of experience in the industry, there are a lot of junks in the market now. With high demand, manufacturers often use lower price to entice consumers. But just remember, there’s always a reason one product is cheaper than the next.

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