Oak is a great choice for a hardwood floor.  It handles the busyness of life well, goes with a lot of different types of decor, is reasonably priced, and is domestically grown.  The number one thing people that don’t like oak is the look of it.  They don’t like the grain pattern.

This is where I like to suggest looking at a rift and quarter-sawn white oak.  It is used in a lot of high end designer homes because going with a clear finish gives it a nice inviting warm amber glow.  It has a very tight grain pattern which helps make the floor harder, makes it a good choice if you have kids, dogs, or you like to entertain.

The seasonal movement of a plain sawn floor is usually horizontal or across the width of the board. A rift and quartered milled floor changes that movement to vertical or through the thickness, so seasonal movement is not as noticeable.  This makes it a very good option for places that go through dramatic seasonal changes and where the interior humidity and temperature isn’t constant.

The Rift & Quartered cutting process is more time consuming and therefore more expensive to manufacture. 

What exactly is Rift Quarter Sawn and why is it so Special?

The advantages for wanting rift & quarter sawn flooring lies in the dimensional stability over flat or plain sawn. Wood naturally expands and contracts with moisture relative to the surrounding humidity. Wood floors expanding across the width can buckle, cup, and rise off the subfloor.

Rift & Quarter Sawn boards are created by initially cutting a log into quarters and cutting boards from alternate faces of that wedge. Quarter sawn boards are formed when the growth rings are at 90° to the face of the board. A pure rift sawn board will have growth rings are from 35° - 65° and flat sawn boards maintain rings aligned more to the surface or between 0-15°. See diagram below.

By its nature, wood can shrink and expand relative to the surrounding humidity.  The way the annual rings run through the board determines the direction of movement. 

Plain Sawn will move across the width of the board creating gaps and other problems. Rift and Quarter sawn movement is restricted to the thickness of the board and movement is vertical so the boards are not moving against each other and stay tight.  This dimensional stability of each board makes it the best option for radiant heated floors & wide plank flooring.

The direction of expansion and contraction in the various board configurations is shown below. Note the end grain patterns and how movement corresponds to the grain direction.

Mirage White Oak Natural Old World
Mirage White Oak Natural Old World