Red vs. White Oak: What's the Difference?

Strong, durable, attractive, timeless: these are just some of the ways to describe the distinctive qualities of oak. Woodworkers and cabinet makers consider oak one of the finest hardwoods available, which explains why it’s used so widely in just about every kind of design imaginable. If you’re eager to incorporate it into your own space, you need to make a few important decisions upfront to help you decide what kind of oak to use. Rely on the experts at The Door Stop to guide you to the best choice.

 

The Difference Between Red vs. White Oak

Though similar in many ways, there are also important differences between red oak vs. white oak. One species isn’t better than the other, but each appeals to a different kind of designer. These are the key differences:

 

  • Color - Despite its name, white oak is actually a mixture of browns and tans, whereas red oak combines reds and pinks. As a result, white oak looks darker than red oak. Color tends to be what drives people to choose one option over the other, but thanks to red vs. white oak staining, you can alter the natural color of either option, in which case the functional features outlined below become more important. 
  • Grain - Red oak features an unpredictable grain pattern that’s both busier and also more visible because of the wood’s light color. White oak, on the other hand, has a tight, dense grain that gives it a more uniform look. 
  • Hardness - The Janka scale quantifies the hardness of wood. White oak rates at 1360 compared to red oak at 1290. Both ratings qualify these different types of oak as highly-durable, but since white oak has a slight edge, it’s the better option in high-traffic areas or outdoor spaces. 
  • Blend - If you’re trying to match new oak with existing oak in your home, be sure to factor in all the elements - stairs, rails, banisters, etc - and not just the floor. Home builders tend to use red oak for things like stair treads and handrails. 
  • Absorption - White oak has a closed grain, meaning the “pores” in this type of wood are especially small. That keeps water out of the wood itself, which increases the durability of the wood while decreasing the maintenance requirements. 
  • Cost - Red oak grows abundantly in nature, which helps to keep the cost low. Expect to pay slightly less for red oak, but don’t expect to break the bank with either option. One reason oak remains so popular is because it’s affordable and valuable. 
 

The Door Stop - Building With What You Want

It’s worth debatingred oak vs. white oak- except when it comes to cabinet doors. In terms of looks, longevity, and design possibilities, red oak excels as a material for cabinet doors in a kitchen, bathroom, office, or any space. That’s why The Door Stop custom-builds so many doors with red oak. Get your own doors done in red oak or choose from a number of other premium hardwoods by taking advantage of our easy online ordering process. But first, explore the abundant options in our selection, and contact us via phone or email with questions.

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