One of the five most abundant trees found in the UK, oak is highly prized, not only for its great strength and hardness, but also for its aesthetic beauty and grain structure. In fact the Vikings, not especially famed for their taste, used oak for their most prestigious long ships, while oak, when sawn in the correct way, is used throughout some of the most famous buildings in the country, including the House of Commons.
Oak has a very high tannin content (tannins are what colours tea and coffee), making it highly resistant to rot and disease.
Perhaps more important than its use in flooring, is its use in wine and spirit production. Most of the greatest and most expensive wines and champagnes in the world will spend time in oak barrels, either French or American, to refine their contents and add elegance. Any spicy, nutty, vanilla or smoke smells can be attributed to the use of oak in winemaking.
Used less and less as pine and less expensive softwood became more prevalent for flooring, oak is a prized asset in any home and should be treated as the grand statesman that it is.