Timber has been a stable building material in Europe for more than a thousand years.Specifically, it’s oak that’s been used so often, as it offers exactly the qualities that builders need – it’s flexible, durable, and it can be found just about everywhere on the continent.
There are some parts of Europe, however, which benefit from especially high-quality oak.Let’s take a look at one of the most popular:French Oak.
Why is oak so valued?
Oak trees are famed for taking a very long time to reach full maturity.Over more than two centuries, they’ll grow to a height of around twenty metres.The slowness of this growth means that the wood fibres can be very densely packed together, leading to exceptional strength.It also means that the timber is exceptionally good-looking, with a tightly-packed grain.
Depending on the part of the world you buy your timber from, you’ll also be able to select from a few different colours.And these variations run more than skin deep; depending on the climate, the type of soil it was grown in, and the age of the tree itself, oak trees will vary in terms of strength.
It’s not just the natural climate which varies from place to place, but the human-imposed ones, too.Responsibly harvested Oak will be strictly graded and processed.To ensure the sustainability of logging, trees will also be replanted.That way we’ll be able to enjoy a consistent quality of timber long into the future.In this respect, the French hold a slight reputational edge over their counterparts.
How is French Oak classified?
French Oak comes lumped into four different categories, depending on how it’s going to be used.
Section-A comes from right near the base of the tree.It’s here that the wood is the thickest and strongest, and thus it’s used for applications where the wood will be under pressure.This part of the tree is famously used to create wine barrels.Oak is able to absorb the flavours and aromas of the wine as it ages, ensuring a tight seal, and that future wines that enter the barrel are lent some of the flavours of those that came before it.For this reason, old French Oak wine barrels are highly sought-after by makers of expensive spirits and other such things.
Sections B and C come from the middle of the tree.They’re used where quality is an issue, and the oak is required to be hard-wearing and good looking.Internal applications, like flooring, are often where this sort of timber finds itself.
Section D comes from the very top of the tree.It’s the cheapest sort of timber, and it’s used principally in outdoor situations, like fencing and railway sleepers.Timber from this high up is strong enough to provide structure, but it can’t compete with the densely-packed fibres near the base of the tree.
How is French Timber regulated?
In France, much like most developed countries, it’s illegal to simply wander into the nearest forest and begin hacking down trees – you need to have first purchased them and agreed to certain conditions, with the most significant of these conditions being that you’ll replant everything you cut down.
It’s these regulations which make the biggest differences between oak grown in Europe and oak grown in the Far East and the Americas.It takes a very long time for an oak tree to grow to its fullest, and so it’s important to get things right from the start right up until the tree is felled.In this respect, European oaks have something of a generous head-start.
French Oak flooring
Of all of the applications for French Oak, hardwood flooring is perhaps the most obvious and visible.Walk into a room that’s been fully-furnished with an oak floor, and you’re sure to notice it.They’re more long-lasting and easily-repaired than carpets, and with a little bit of occasional treatment, they’re sure to last for ages.Be sure, however, not to walk across them while wearing high-heels!
If you’re based in Wales and looking for a supplier of French Oak flooring, then be sure to check out Richard Williams.They’ve been supplying building materials reliably for years, and their range of flooring solutions is difficult to beat.As well as French-Oak hardwood flooring, they also provide extruded clay tiles, which are an affordable alternative to a real stone tile.If you’re in search of high-quality flooring in North Wales, then, make them your first stop.