More than 50,000 white oak floors in the United States are rated as either “highly attractive” or “highly decorative,” according to the American Society of Interior and Interior Architecture.
The quality and durability of these flooring materials vary widely, but most are coated with chemical agents that degrade with age.
They are typically sold in bulk at furniture retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Home Depot Supercenter.
The best laminate floors, meanwhile, are made of the same type of fiber-reinforced plastic, but their surfaces are coated in a chemical agent called lacquer that has been used since the 1930s.
Because the coating is less durable than natural fibers, the coating becomes “rusty” and discolors with time, and even after it’s removed, its color fades, according to a 2014 study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
If you buy white oak, consider the possibility that it’s stained concrete, too.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the use of lacquer has been linked to “substantial” air pollutants and health effects.
The agency recommends that you avoid white oak and other white oak products for residential and commercial uses.
To prevent these chemicals from seeping into your home, make sure you are properly storing and transporting white oak.
And if you’re not sure whether you should be using white oak or another type of wood, consider checking with your local building inspector.