Red Oak vs White Oak Wood | Which is Better For You?

White oak wood is harder, more durable, and more resistant to rot than red oak. Therefore, white oak is an excellent option for durable flooring due to its higher density and reduced susceptibility to scratches and dents.

Actually, white oak and red oak are not individual species but rather groups comprising many oak species. Within the oak family, various species are categorized into either the white oak or red oak groups based on the quality of their wood.

Red Oak Wood

Red oaks are straight-grained, uniformly textured, and easy to stain. It is a medium hardness wood that is most commonly used for making cabinets and furniture.

Red oak trees are fast-growing and native to North America. It is often planted in gardens and parks as an ornamental tree. Apart from decoration, it is also cultivated for wood. 

White Oak Wood

White oaks are durable, stable, and medium rot-resistant. It is known for its heavy and strong wood. So, it is the most acceptable wood species for durable flooring.

The White Oak tree, scientifically known as Quercus alba, is a deciduous tree native to North America. It is a large and long-lived tree species, known for its strong and durable wood.

#Red OakWhite Oak
Scientific Name: Quercus rubraQuercus alba
Janka Hardness:1,290 lbf (5,700 N)1,360 lbf (6,000 N)
Tree Size:80–115 ft (25–35 m) tall65-85 ft (20-25 m) tall
Crushing Strength:6,780 lbf / in2 (46.8 MPa)7,370 lbf / in2 (50.8 MPa)
Uses:Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, and veneerCabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, boatbuilding, barrels, and veneer
Color:light brown to pinkish-reddishlight brown to medium brown
Workability:Good WorkabilityGood Workability
Availability:Easily availableEasily available
Sustainability:Red oak is a sustainable woodWhite oak is also a sustainable wood

Red Oak Wood Uses

It is widely used for furniture, cabinets, fence posts, railroad ties, doors, and floors. It can be used to make all applications that are not exposed to moisture and water.

Northern red oak is used to make quality charcoal; red oak burns slowly but produces high heat. So, it is the right wood to make charcoal. Apart from northern red oak, many other hardwoods are also used to convert wood to charcoal. This process takes about 14-16 hours and depends on the wood species.

White Oak Wood Uses

White oak is strong, dense, and rot-resistant. It is widely used for outdoor furniture, flooring, and cabinets. White oaks can be used for all applications that are exposed to moisture or weather.

Unlike red oak, white oak has a closer grain, so it performs better in moisture. It doesn’t absorb a lot of moisture. So, white oaks are a good choice for making boats. In America, white oak is used to make whiskey and wine barrels.

Color / Appearance

Red Oak Wood

The heartwood of red oak is pinkish to reddish brown, and the sapwood is light brown. Red oak wood has large and open pores and a straight grain with a coarse and uneven texture.

White Oak Wood

Heartwood is light to medium brown, and sapwood is white to light brown. The difference between sapwood and heartwood is not easily detected. But it is slightly darker than red oak.

Which Wood Is Harder: Red Oak or White Oak?

White oak is slightly harder and heavier than red oak. The hardness of red oak is 1,290 lb (5,700 N) on the Janka scale, while white oak has (1,360 lb (6,000 N)) Janka hardness.

The Janka scale is used to determine the relative hardness of a particular domestic or exotic wood species.

Red Oak vs. White Oak: Which Wood Is More Water-Resistant?

White oak has better water resistance properties than red oak. Many boat manufacturers choose white oak to make boats and boat parts because it can be used outdoors after the exterior finish.

Generally, no wood is 100% water-proof. But some types of wood, such as cedar, redwood, yew, white oak, and many others, can withstand moisture and water for long periods.

Some wood species do not have naturally rot-resistant properties. They are made by paint, proxy, and chemical treatment to withstand moisture for some time.


White Oak is a bit more expensive than Red Oak. White oak is in high demand because it is more durable and stronger than red oak. Another reason for it being expensive is that white oak contains less heartwood while sapwood has more.

This change in their price depends on many factors, such as transport, grade of wood, and native places.

What’s the Best Wood to Burn: Red Oak or White Oak?

White oak is the most popular firewood in the United States. Its density is higher than Red Oak. It burns for a long time and gives high heat. White oak is capable of producing 24.4 million BTUs per cord. 

Generally, oak woods are easy to split and cut because they have a straight grain. It produces high heat, and red oak is capable of producing 24 million BTUs per cord.

Which Is Better for Flooring: Red Oak or White Oak?

For a quality wooden floor, wood must have durability, hardness, moisture resistance, and stability. Well, finding wood for flooring is not easy. But when the choice is between red oak and white oak, it becomes a little easier.

If we prioritize the hardness and moisture resistance of the wood, white oak is the best choice for flooring. But if you want a great look and easy stains, then red oak is the best choice.

Ultimately, both are great choices for flooring. Some people like the look of red oak, while others prefer white oak because of its lower maintenance. It all depends on your preference.


White oak is a great choice for outdoor applications, while red oak is good for indoor use. Both have their properties. Which wood to choose depends on the purpose of its use.

Red Oak may be a more affordable and attractive option for you. White oak is more durable and suitable for outdoor projects.

The hardness of any wood affects its roughness, scratches, and dents. Wood with higher hardness is less likely to get dents and scratches. High hardness is considered better for wood floors.

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