COMPLETE GUIDE: RED OAK VS. WHITE OAK HARDWOOD FLOORING

Hardwood floors are a long-term investment and you must make the right decision otherwise you might waste a lot of money. So, before deciding which of the Oak hardwood flooring you should choose, you should know about their pros and cons and what are the major differences between them. There is an ongoing debate about White Oak and Red Oak and which one is better. Both of these hardwood floors come from a similar type of tree. Species are different but the group of trees is the same, that is why there is not much difference in price, life longevity but there is a noticeable difference in the look and use. Below are a few major features of these two types of flooring.

1. White Oak Flooring: Its hardwood comes from the Quercus alba tree species. This plant is native to North America and that is why the hardwood is very easily available. This plant has a higher hardness rating as compared to many other trees that are grown in this region. This is also one of the most used hardwood types in the United States. This hardwood is capable of lasting for hundred years if the floor is properly taken care of. The color of the White Oak is lighter and it is mostly finished in darker tones.

2. Red Oak hardwood Flooring: This hardwood comes from the Red Oak tree species, Quercus rubra. This is also native to North America and is easily available. This is slightly less hard in comparison to White Oak but has similar life longevity and price. The color of the Red Oak hardwood is darker and gives a reddish shade and is mostly finished in lighter tones. Due to its pinkish tone, it requires more cleaning but looks beautiful. This is also one of the most used hardwood flooring species in the United States.

color

The color of both White Oak and Red Oak is distinct. The White Oak gives a brownish, or yellowish shade while the Red Oak gives a reddish-pink shade. Apart from their natural color they are also distinctly stained and finished to give a different look. You can choose the species according to the color you like. The finished hardwood floors of both White Oak and Red Oak tend to absorb the light and change color.

But the rate of change of color in both species is different. The White Oak hardwood floor tends to absorb light and that is why its color change is faster and can be observed more easily. But the Red Oak hardwood floors absorb less light and that is why the color change in the Red Oak hardwood floor is less apparent as compared to the White Oak.

Grain

The grain structure is something that White Oak and Red Oak have very distinctly. The grain structure of the White Oak hardwood floors is smoother, while the grain structure of the Red Oak hardwood floors is more apparent and stronger. The difference between this grain structure can easily be seen in the finished floors. The grain structure and color of your hardwood floor is what can help you hide the dust, dents, and scratches on the floor. Due to the stronger and apparent grain, Red Oak is better at hiding the dents and scratches as compared to the White Oak.

While the White Oak provides a better look at the hardwood floor. So, if you want a floor that looks cooler and has a better look, you should choose White Oak hardwood flooring. But if you want a hardwood floor that can better hide dents and surface scratches, you should have the Red Oak hardwood flooring.

LOOK AND FEEL

There is not much difference in the feel of both of these hardwood species but the look is very distinct and each species has its characteristics. The White Oak hardwood floors have a cooler and modern look and they look more natural as well. The feel of the White Oak hardwood floors is warm and smooth under the feet. Meanwhile, the Red Oak hardwood floors tend to give a lighter but warmer and versatile look.

The feel of the Red Oak hardwood floors under the feet is also cozy and warm. The Red Oak has short rays in its look while the White Oak has longer rayed. So, if you want a darker shade, longer rays, warm and modern look on your hardwood floor, you should choose the White Oak hardwood flooring. But, if you want a lighter shade, pinkish color, and cozy feel, you should choose Red Oak hardwood flooring.

Hardness

Both Red Oak and White Oak hardwood for flooring come from different trees, and that is why they have different ratings for hardness. This difference in the hardness of the wood means how much strength, density, and durability the wood has. Based on the Janka scale, the Red Oak has a rating of 1290 points while the White Oak has a slightly higher rating. White Oak has a rating of 1360 points on the Janka hardness scale. This means that White Oak hardwood is denser and also stronger as compared to Red Oak hardwood flooring.

This more density and strength mean that the hardwood can last longer and can survive more pressure without bending. There are a lot of other benefits of the harder hardwood as well, but there is a downside as well, the hard and dense hardwood species are also heavier. Meaning that they carry more weight. So, if you choose White Oak hardwood because it is hard, you will also have to deal with more weight. Apart from this the hardness also impacts the workability and usability of the hardwood as well. White Oak hardwood floor planks are hard to saw and work on while the Red Oak hardwood floor planks are comparatively easier to saw and work on.

Life

Each of these hardwood species has a very long life, White Oak in comparison to Red Oak can last a little longer as it is hard and has more strength. But that does not mean that you should only consider, White Oak, there are a lot of instances where the Red Oak hardwood floor lasted even longer than many White Oak hardwood floors.

The reason behind their longer length is their hardness, but there is also another reason for this longer life, it is care and maintenance of the hardwood floor. The care of the floor and proper maintenance is something that can help your hardwood floor last longer. So, you should know that both of these hardwood floors are capable of lasting for even 100 years as well if they are properly taken care of.

Usability

The White Oak hardwood is mostly used for flooring purposes only, while the Red Oak can be used for flooring and also for stairs. The planks of the Red Oak hardwood floors are commonly used in the stairs, while Red Oak is rarely seen in use in Stairs and other parts of the house. This increased usability is what gives Red Oak an advantage over the less usable White Oak. The reason is that stairs can get dents and scratches more easily as compared to the other parts of the floor and that is why they must be able to hide these dents and scratches.

The Red Oak can better hide the scratches as compared to the Red Oak and that is why it is mostly used in the other parts of the house as well. But the White Oak is a great choice for your kitchen’s floor. That is because it is better able to resist scratches and it also matches most of the modern kitchen cabinets as well. You should keep this usability factor of both of these hardwood species in mind while selecting the perfect one for yourself.

Cleaning

As you already know that the White Oak tends to be darker instead of being lighter, meaning that it reflects anything that does not match the color of the floor. So, the dust will be a huge problem for the White Oak hardwood floor owners. You will have to clean your floor again and again more frequently to keep it clean all the time.

While the Red Oak hardwood floors have a lighter shade and color and that is why they are better able to hide the dust and that means you will not have to clean them frequently to keep them clean. You should also keep this factor in mind while selecting a hardwood floor for your home.

Maintenance

All hardwood floors require maintenance over time to help them last longer. White Oak and Red Oak floors also require proper maintenance, but due to their hardness and strength, White Oak hardwood floors are better able to resist scratches, wear and tear, pests, and other problems for a longer time. Meaning that the White Oak hardwood floors will require less maintenance for dents and scratches. Apart from this, the Red Oak also has a lighter shade and that is why the color change in it will be more apparent as compared to the White Oak and that is why you will have to restrain the Red Oak hardwood floors more often as compared to the White Oak hardwood floor. So, the overall cost of maintenance of the Red Oak will be more as compared to White Oak hardwood floors.

This is a very important factor that you must keep in your mind while deciding about a perfect hardwood floor for your house.

Workability

As you know that White Oak hardwood is denser, harder and heavier, it impacts the workability of the White Oak hardwood floors. The hard and stiff wood is not only difficult to saw, and shape, it is also very difficult to install properly. This extra hardness of the White Oak also makes it harder to nail. The hard workability of the White Oak makes it an unsuitable choice if you are doing everything on your own and finishing the planks on site. The cutting and shaping of the White Oak floor planks required more force, more power, and more experience as well.

While on the other hand, the Red Oak is also hard but is slightly less heavy, less dense, and easy to cut, shape, and work with. This is a better choice if you are trying to work on your own. Red Oak hardwood planks are also easy to install as well. This improved workability of the Red Oak hardwood floors makes them a better choice. You will have to compromise on the workability if you want a harder White Oak floor, or you will have to compromise on the hardness over workability. This is a factor that also should be kept in mind while deciding about the hardwood floor.

Compatibility

The White Oak hardwood floors give a modern look and they are compatible with more modern interior design, and kitchen cabinet styles. That is why in most modern homes and with modern interiors slightly darker shades of the White Oak hardwood flooring are used. The White Oak’s darker shade also tends to make the places look smaller, so they are only perfect for the larger spaces and not for the smaller places. Also, the White Oak hardwood floors are compatible with dimmer lighting.

While the Red Oak hardwood flooring makes it a perfect match for almost every kind of interior design. This is because the Red Oak comes with a lighter shade of pink color, and it can be finished in any stain according to the interior setting. Not only this, but the Red Oak hardwood flooring also can expand the look of the place with its lighter shade. It looks very cozy with the brighter lighting. So, you should choose the hardwood flooring according to your interior settings and decide if you want to choose a darker White Oak hardwood floor or a lighter Red Oak hardwood floor.

Resistance

There are four things to discuss when we are talking about resistance in hardwood. Fire-resistance, pest-resistance, scratch-resistance, water-resistance. Naturally, the harder wood type is better at resistance as well. But no hardwood is 100% resistant to anything. This resistance is the measure of the hardwood’s ability to slow down a process so that there is a small impact on the wood only. The White Oak hardwood floors have a higher scratch resistance, as the hardwood is strong and they do not easily get scratched. The softer White Oak hardwood floors have less scratch resistance and which means they will get scratched more easily as compared to the White Oak hardwood floors.

Both the White Oak and Red Oak have similar pest-resistance meaning that they do not attract pests and that is why both have a similar age. The fire-resistance of White Oak hardwood is slightly higher than Red Oak as it is harder and denser, so it prevents the spread of fire and takes a longer time to burn, meaning that in case of fire, it will burn slower as compared to Red Oak hardwood flooring. It gives you more time to control the spread of the fire and prevents large scale damages. The water-resistance of the White Oak hardwood floors is more as compared to the Red Oak hardwood floors. It means that White Oak hardwood floors, (due to their hardness) take more time to absorb water and give you more time to clean the water spill. These are some of the most important factors to keep in mind when selecting the red or White Oak for your hardwood floors.

Pricing

There is not much difference in the prices of both, White Oak hardwood flooring and Red Oak hardwood flooring. Their prices keep changing based on their availability in your region. Red Oak is considered a more affordable choice this is because comparatively, the White Oak costs a little more as compared to Red Oak hardwood floors, in terms of floor planks, finishing, and installation costs.

While the cost of unfinished floor planks of both White Oak and Red Oak is similar. The cost of maintenance of the Red Oak hardwood floors is more in comparison to the White Oak hardwood floors. You can choose an affordable Red Oak hardwood floor but you should keep in mind that its maintenance will cost you more, and if you are choosing the White Oak you should know that installation is difficult and that is why it will cost more.

Which one is better- Red Oak or White Oak?

Both of these are good options for hardwood floors. If you are looking for the one that is best for you, you should know your requirements for the floor. The White Oak has a slight edge over the Red Oak in terms of hardness, resistance, and maintenance but the Red Oak also has some advantages over the Red Oak, including workability, compatibility, usage, and cleaning. So, you should properly know your requirements and choose according to that. If you prefer a slightly darker look, White Oak is a perfect choice but if you want a lighter look, Red Oak is more suitable for that.

Conclusion

White Oak and Red Oak hardwood come from two different trees of the same group (Oak) but have different species. That is why they show different characteristics and provide you a better variety of hardwood floor options to choose from. The White Oak comes from a species that has harder wood. While in comparison to this the Red Oak has a slightly less hard and less dense wood. If we compare the hardness, resistance, affordability, cleaning requirements, maintenance, and a few other factors important for hardwood flooring.

In some of these White Oak performs better such as it has more resistance, better hardness, and less maintenance. But the Red Oak has better cleaning and affordability and is easy to work with. Also, the White Oak only works with the modern form of kitchen cabinets and interior design. Meanwhile, the Red Oak works very well with all sorts of interior designs and settings. So, we cannot say that one species is better than the other, both have their advantages and disadvantages, and you should decide according to your requirements.