For most of the nation’s history, oak has been among the most popular choices for hardwood flooring. Oak is readily available, highly durable, and relatively inexpensive as hardwoods go. With the right wood floor finishes and a little bit of ongoing maintenance, an oak floor could easily last a century or more.
That does leave one question: red oak or white oak? In truth, they’re both excellent flooring materials, and either would look great in almost any home. In this blog, we’ll run down some of the differences between them.
Choosing Between Red Oak and White Oak for Your Hardwood Floor
Counter-intuitively, white oak is often a bit darker than red oak! White oak tends to have yellow/brown undertones, while red oak has a reddish tint. However, very often people building with red oak will choose wood floor finishes that emphasize its red hue – ending up with a floor that’s darker than a white oak floor would be.
Both white and red oak are quite hard, but white is slightly harder. According to the Janka hardness scale, white oak is a 1360, while red oak is 1290. So, the difference is pretty minimal. On top of that, red oak tends to be a bit better at hiding scuffs and dents, so the differences are further minimized in practical use.
This is one of the more clear-cut differences: red oak has a much more pronounced grain and is also more porous as a result. This makes red oak more visually interesting if a pronounced grain is what you’re looking for. Choose red oak if you want a slightly more rustic/natural look or choose white oak if you’d prefer a more smooth and clean feel.
Have no fear, both types of oak grow freely, and are farmed responsibly across North America. Oak -either kind- is a much “greener” option than something like an exotic hardwood from South America or Africa.
Again, there’s no real difference since both are freely farmed across North America. If you’re looking to outfit more of your accessories -such as stair banisters- with white oak, you might pay a little more. But the difference is likely to be negligible.
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