The overall grade is defect free due to the slow growth of the trees in the area it is grown, the overall colour consistency is excellent. European Oak is more expensive than most other hardwoods but the end result is often well worth it. Oak is chosen for its durability, strength & is ideal for use in listed properties. EUROPEAN OAK is an elegant hardwood with more grain change & colour variation than American oak. This type of oak can lend itself to modern & historic buildings.
1) Quercus petraea/sessiliflora
(2) Quercus robur/pendunculata
Commercial names: Native/English, French, German Oak etc., according to country of origin. (1) Sessile or Durmast Oak (2) Pedunculate Oak.
Other names: Rovere, Quercia (Italy); Chene (France); Eiche (Germany); Eik (Netherlands).
Distribution: UK & Europe.
General description: The heartwood is light tan to biscuit coloured, usually straight grained, but irregular or cross-grained material can occur depending on growth conditions. Characteristic silver grain figure on quartered surfaces due to broad rays. Our Native oak is tough & hard with more apparent mineral stain in the grain compared to the French and German oaks. Native oak is slightly heavier weighing 720 kg/m3 (45 lb/ft3); specific gravity 0.72. Whereas the French & German oaks are slightly lighter in weight at 670 kg/m3 (42 lb/ft3); specific gravity 0.67.
Seasoning: European Green Oak dries very slowly with a tendency to split & crack. Medium movement in service. Kiln dried Oak is much less likely to split & crack & generally it is this type of oak that we use in the construction of our hardwood Conservatories and Orangeries. On more rustic style buildings like Oak Framed Cart Sheds, Garden Offices, Oak Porches to name but a few we generally use Green Oak which adds character to the building & develops an aged look over time.
Durability: We live in country surrounded by traditional oak framed buildings that have lasted for many hundreds of years. Oak has a closed cellular structure, which makes it virtually impervious to water & moisture. Although it needs no external treatment many of our oak conservatories & orangeries are stained with a filter 7 stain, which seals the oak & gives the oak a more pleasing aesthetic look. For a more rustic style of buildings like oak framed structures, then there is no reason to treat the oak so long as a level of reasonable maintenance is adhered to. Oak will mature with age & develop its own character making it an ideal material for listed buildings.
General Uses: Furniture, Cabinetmaking, Cart Sheds, Garages, Garden Offices, Porches, Conservatories, Orangeries, Oak Framed Structures, Pergolas, Staircases, Windows, Doors & for all purposes of exposure in contact with the ground. We use a lot of European oak in the construction of our Oak Framed Structures & in more recent times has become more & more popular in the construction of our bespoke Conservatories & Orangeries.
The question is frequently asked what is the difference between our Native British Oak & European French & German Oak. There is hardly any difference & many furniture and joinery manufacturers incorporate both types into the same piece of work & even an expert eye has difficulty in spotting the difference. Increased supplies of European Oak are now available from Eastern Europe. The majority of our European Oak originates mainly from Germany with smaller quantities from France. Both countries have had established reforestation policies for over 300 years with the emphasis on hardwoods, particularly Oak. With 27% of the land area in France and 30% in Germany being afforested & much of this area predominantly with Oak & Beech. Whereas the UK has only 10.3% of land area afforested with only 27% of this being hardwoods. Another good reason that we use European Oak in our Conservatories & Orangeries is that Native English Oak generally grows in hedgerows & fields, whereas European oak from Germany or France is still grown in natural forests. This means that a tree has to compete for light & therefore grows straighter with fewer knots than a non forest grown oak.
Grading of European oak: Our Superior Grade European oak is sourced from sustainably managed forestry in France & Germany. The trees used are selective thinning's which are felled during September and October as part of a sustainably managed forestry programme. The butts (logs) are then sawn, graded & air dried during the winter months, before being dried in high tech kilns.
Although clear grade Oak remains in good demand. The continued increase in demand for Oak which includes various types of “character” has meant that each sawmill or shipper has established their own particular interpretation of what they think the grade should be classed as. This is why we only buy from reputable saw mills which are inspected by ourselves prior to purchasing our oak. We often personally travel to France & Germany & to personally inspect the different grades of oak available, ensuring that we only select the finest quality oak for the construction of our conservatories, orangeries & garden structures.