Updated: May 19
*NEW AND IMPROVED POST- This is by far the most popular search on my page. The Woodwise White Oak Test kit has proven to be extremely important to keep on hand to identify red or white oak flooring*
Have you ever had trouble identifying wood species on a hardwood floor? I am usually decent at being able to identify species and grade on some of the more common species. However recently I was looking at a job for a new client and I ran into a tricky one. It’s a standard 2-1/4” oak strip floor but because of the current stain/finish I couldn’t tell with 100% certainty wether it was white or red oak. If it were just a refinish I would probably have just waited until I was there sanding the floor to be surprised but since this is a partial install and finish I wanted to make sure beforehand.
So as i usually do when i’m faced with these sort of dilemmas I took to google and social media to look for the answers. I posted a photo of the floor in question in the NWFA installers group on Facebook. I got a lot of responses from a lot of great installers but when I tallied the results it turned out to be about a 50/50 split. So while it was fun watching the guesses come in, it unfortunately was no help.
Next I tried instagram. I posted a photo of the floor in question and tagged a few experienced hardwood floor installers to ask their opinions. Again, while the response was great I still couldn’t get an overwhelming response one way or another. But then @elite_concepts_usa responded with an out-of-the-box suggestion that I hadn’t yet considered. And that suggestion was a white oak test kit. I had never even heard of such a thing. So back to google I went. I quickly found a popular test kit made by Woodwise. It’s a simple chemistry test that uses two chemicals that cause a reaction with the tannins in white oak causing the sample to turn a dark green almost black color. This reaction will only happen when white oak is present.
So I made a trip back to the clients house and scraped a small sample from the side of a board that ran into bedroom carpeting. I brought the shavings home and set up my samples. I had one sample from the clients floor in question, one sample from a known white oak board from my garage and a third sample from a know red oak board. I followed the simple instructions and in a matter of minutes I was able to tell without a doubt that the flooring in question was white oak.
The first tray photo is an example of the wood flooring scrapings before we start the test. The middle tray photo is after testing samples to find that both trays are red oak and the third and final photo shows both trays Testing white oak, (Notice the differences in color variations of the white oak they always have that blackish/blueish tint but can vary in color strength)
This goes to show you that there is always someone that knows a little information that you might not and all you have to do is reach out and ask. Had I not got that suggestion from @elite_concepts_usa who knows what I would’ve ended up doing to get the answer to my question, haha. So I hope that someone reading this blog is able to answer some questions based on the information they learned here. If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below and thanks for taking the time to read.