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Red Oak vs White Oak Hardwood Flooring

Oak is one of the most common types of flooring used in North America. Whether it’s red or white oak you’re using in your kitchen, dining room, or living room, you can’t really go wrong. However, there are some distinct differences and advantages to using either in various situations.

If you need to decide to install hardwood floors with white oak or red oak, read on. We are going to do our best to clear that up for you here.




Red Oak

Red Oak wood comes from the northeastern region of North America. They generally grow to be about 115ft tall and 6ft in diameter. The weight of a red oak plank is about 44 lbs per cubic foot and has a Janka hardness rating of 1220. The heartwood is usually a light to medium brown with a reddish cast. It also has ray fleck patterns on quarter-sawn sections.

The grain is straight and coarse with uniquely large pores that are easily visible. Red oak, by nature, is a perishable hardwood and stains easily. However, with a good sealant on your floorboard planks, they will be well protected.

One advantage to red oak is that it is easy to work with using hand and machine tools. Red oaks odor is quite appealing for most people.

As far as availability goes, it is one of the more abundant sources of hardwood for Canada and the United States. That makes it one of the more inexpensive styles of wood. It is a little cheaper than white oak price-wise, which is why it is so often used for hardwood floors. However, it does lack a few advantages that white oak has to offer.

Red oak is available in both laminate and natural forms for hardwood flooring needs, making it versatile enough for mass use. It is one of the most widely used sources for hardwood floors due to its workability, reasonable price point, and accessibility.




White Oak

White Oak grows on the eastern shore of the United States and typically stands up to 85ft tall and 4 ft in diameter. The average dried weight is similar to red oak at 47 lbs per cubic foot. White oak hardness is a little higher than its red counterpart. It has a rating of 1350 on the Janka hardness scale.

Oddly enough, white oak is actually slightly darker than red oak. It is a medium to light brown with a tint of olive present in the straight, coarse, and uneven grain texture. The grain is much tighter and carries more finesse within white oak compared to red oak.

Compared to red oak, white oak is considered highly durable and reliable. It is often being used for the construction of boats and more intricate cooperage projects.

Whether using machine or hand tools, white oak is easy enough to work with, making it well suited for hardwood flooring projects and refinishing. It is durable, without being too difficult to manipulate and color. It is akin to staining when unprotected and reacts to iron when in contact.

Just like red oak, white has an appealing odor that most people find pleasant. Availability for white oak is a little more restricted than red, but it is still an abundant source for hardwood flooring in both Canada and the United States.

It is a little bit more expensive than red, but it is also more durable and suitable for more flooring applications. It holds a slightly more modern look to it. That matches a lot of the newest interior design trends and preferences of many people.

No matter which type of oak you’re interested in, you can rest assured that it is one of the more environmentally friendly styles of wood to use for your hardwood floors. Oak has a very low carbon footprint in relation to logging and replanting.




Which Type Of Oak Is Best For Hardwood Flooring

In relation to hardwood floors, both red and white oak are perfectly suitable choices. White oak is a little more expensive but offers higher durability. Both strains are wildly abundant in North America, with red oak being slightly more available. However, that’s not to say that white oak is not just as easy to get your hands on.

The difference between the two really comes down to the durability and the affordability factors. While white oak is more durable and has a tight-looking finish to the grain, it is more expensive. So, if you’re not worried about the cost of white oak, then it is the way to go.

However, we must mention that red oak is worth its weight in saved monetary value. It is still a perfectly reasonable hardwood to use on your floors. It is durable enough when treated, sealed, and stained properly. If you’re looking to shave off a few bucks from your renovation project, then you won’t be losing out by choosing red oak over white oak.

White oak lends itself nicely to a slightly more modern, crisp look. Red oak allows for a more wild and natural finish. However, the differences can be fairly indistinguishable once you lay down a few coats of your favorite color of stain or sealant.


Our team members at are happy to talk more with you about potential options for your hardwood flooring projects. Give us a call at 1-587-200-3764 and we will be happy to talk you through any hardwood flooring questions.


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