Elm vs Oak Wood | Which Wood is Best For You?

Elm Wood

Elms are deciduous and semi-deciduous trees in the genus Ulmus. There are 35 species of elm. Some of these species are from North America and some from Western Europe.

The elm is cultivated as an ornamental tree in parts of Europe, North America, and the Southern Hemisphere. Elm Wood is a versatile species. This is used for making boxes, baskets, furniture, hockey sticks, veneer, etc.

Elm Wood is known for its strength, durability, tough and hard, and lightweight. The heartwood of elm Wood is mid to dark brown with a red tone. Due to its dark color, the furniture looks attractive.

Oak Wood

Oak is a tree or shrub in the genus of the beech family, Fagaceae. It has a large family with over 500 species.  It is native to the Northern Hemisphere.

The most common oak tree varieties are White Oak, Black Oak, red oak, Willow oak, and many. Oak mainly grows in the Northern Hemisphere. Some of these species are deciduous oaks and some are evergreen.

Oak Wood has strong, hard, heavy, and dense with close grains properties. Therefore it is a good choice to make furniture, cabinetry, and flooring. Some oak wood has great properties of workability, durability, water, and decay resistance.

#  ElmOak
Scientific nameUlmusQuercus
Native toNorth America and Western EuropeNorthern Hemisphere
Tree Height60 to 80 feet tall60 and 100 feet tall
Hardness800 to 900 LBFOver 1000 LBF
Workabilitycan be worked easily.It can be difficult to work.
Durabilityit is not durablevery durable
Rot ResistanceNot rot resistanceMedium to high rot resistance
UsesBoxes, baskets, furniture, hockey sticks, veneer, wood pulp, and papermaking.Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, boatbuilding, barrels, and veneer

Elm vs Oak Wood Uses


Elm uses 

The Elm trees have great height and attractive foliage. So that it is extensively used as an ornamental tree in the United States. Farmers also cultivate it and it is traded on a large scale.

The American elm is a highly dense (around 560 kg per cubic meter) shade tree with moderately dense foliage and a crown shape of a broad. It is often found in the park or on the side of the road.

Most species of elm are used for making boxes, baskets, furniture, hockey sticks, veneer, wood pulp, and papermaking. Although it is a soft hardwood. Therefore It is susceptible to insect attack and rated as non-durable. Therefore it is not considered suitable for outdoor furniture.

Janka hardness of most species is around 800 to 900 LBF. Which is less than other hardwoods.

Oak Uses

Oak Wood has great durability, workability, high density (0.75 g/cm3 (0.43 oz/cu in)), strength, and hardness. It is rated to be low to moderate rot-resistant wood. 

Oak is used for making furniture, joinery, flooring, paneling, decking, and veneers. Although it is hardwood. Therefore It is not susceptible to insect attack and is rated as a durable wood species. So it is considered suitable for outdoor furniture and flooring.

Due to the great appearance and grain pattern, It is widely used for furniture and veneers.

Oak Wood is also used as firewood. Because it produces high heat and due to good density, it burns for a long time. The BTU value of white oak is approximately 29.1 Heat per Cord (Million BTUs).

Elm vs Oak Wood Color and Appearance 

Elm is a beautiful wood known for its exquisite grain pattern. Its heartwood is light to medium reddish-brown in color and sapwood has a pale to white in color.

The color of Oak heartwood is light to medium brown, Almost white to light brown sapwood. Sometimes It cannot be easily differentiated between sapwood and heartwood. Due to the dark brown color of Oak, it is a suitable wood species for making furniture.

Elm vs Oak Wood Workability

If we talk about workability, then the workability of Elm Wood is better than Oak. Because the density of Elm Wood is low. So that it can be worked easily with hand tools and machines. It can also be easily curved. 

Some Elm species have interlocked and irregular grain (this is formed during the growth of the tree), which can be difficult to work with. Otherwise, Elm has great workability properties. 

Oak Woods is one of the hardest wood and Janka hardness of most species is above 1000 LBF, While Live Oak (Southern Live Oak) has a 2,680 LBF (12,920 N) hardness. Which is much more than Elm.

Workability is overall good. Oak responds well to steam-bending, Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Rot Resistance

Most species of elm do not have the properties of rot resistance. These are susceptible to insect attacks. Also, Living trees are susceptible to elm disease. 

Oak is Rated as very durable. frequently used in boatbuilding and tight cooperation applications. It is suitable for outdoor and indoor projects.

Elm vs Oak Wood Price

The price of wood depends on many factors. Such as the quality, size of lumber(Large lumber is more expensive than small.), and location. 

Wood is divided into several grades according to its quality. Like A grade, B grade and C grade, and so on. There are no knots and defects in A-grade wood. So that its price is the highest.

B grade and C grade wood have some knots and defects. So that the price of wood of this grade is less than A grade.

There is not much difference between the price of Elm and Oak Wood. Elm Wood costs around $3 to $6 per board foot, While oak wood costs around $4 to $10 per board foot. 

Which species would be better for you?

Both Elm and Oak are Great wood species. Both have good demand in the market. But which species should you take? It depends on your usage.

For example, if you want to use Boxes, baskets, wood pulp, and papermaking. In which the strength and rotting do not matter much. So you should choose Elm Wood.

While you are looking for wood to make furniture, flooring, and boats, then Oak Wood will be a better option for you.

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