European White Oak: Historic but Fresh Design Trend

Recently, many luxury interior designers and builders have won awards using European White Oak and northern Appalachian wide, long board live sawn White Oak flooring. These winning designs seek to apply a fresh perspective on a historic concept.

These curated premium design trends have fueled renewed interest in European White Oak and its distinguishing characteristics, making it such a desired commodity.

European White Oak grows throughout northern Europe, but is primarily sourced from the UK, France, Germany, and Poland. Quercus Robur, European White Oak’s scientific name, is known to grow taller with branching of the trunk occurring lower, making the wood more knotty and ideal for longer lengths and wider cuts.

One of the chief characteristics of European White Oak flooring is the way it is milled. Taking the center cant, logs are live sawn. This results in a wider plank, typically 7-10”, producing a higher percentage of spectacular and stable sections with a variety of medullar flecks and cathedral grain all in the same plank.

The other characteristic of European White Oak is that it responds well to fuming, the process of exposing wood to ammonia gas in a sealed chamber. Fuming creates unique and natural looking colors as the tannins and other minerals in the wood react to the ammonia and are brought to the surface. The rich deep color permeates the entire plank, not just the top surface.

As a premium imported product, European White Oak demands a high price, leading many domestic mills to apply European techniques to American White Oak, Quercus Alba. You will find a variety of names from Eurocut, French Oak Cut to center cut and live sawn to describe American White Oak flooring milled in the traditional European manner. This results in flooring sharing the similar characteristics of width, length and grain patterns within the same plank at a more competitive price.