Aug 30, 2021 | Flooring America
Oak flooring is a go-to choice for many people looking to install hardwood flooring in their homes. It’s widely available, extremely durable, and an attractive option for anyone considering hardwood floors. Plus, it’s pretty affordable as far as hardwood goes. If oak floors are installed correctly, finished with expertise, and well maintained, they can last a lifetime. Many people who know this about oak are drawn to the material, but what they don’t know is that there are actually two different types of oak: red and white.
Yes, there are red and white types of oak, and they are both green, not literally, but environmentally. Both red and white species are grown in the United States, making oak an affordable option by avoiding international shipping costs and environmental hazards. Additionally, U.S. forestry management enforces sustainable forestry practices, which reduces the environmental impact when harvesting the wood.
Color seems to be the obvious difference between these two types of oak, but to the untrained eye, you might not be able to tell the difference. Contrary to how it sounds, white oak is darker in color than red oak. White oak has a tan, beige, and yellow tone. In contrast, red oak is a bit lighter in color but has a rosy undertone.
The grain is a clear differentiator in red and white oak. Red oak has a wild or varied grain pattern. Each grain is thicker and can run in zigzags. The color of red oak also makes the grain more visible. White oak is not as wild and instead has thinner, more uniform grains. The grain of each type of oak distinguishes the two, and if you are repairing an existing oak floor or continuing an oak floor into another room, you will want to make sure the type of oak is consistent. Meaning if white oak is already in your kitchen and you want to add hardwood flooring in the connecting living room, make sure the new flooring is also white oak. Otherwise, you’ll see the difference in the grain.
White oak is often used for boat building because it’s a closed-grain wood, making it water-resistant. Red oak has open cells, which means it lacks this water-resistant quality. White oak might be a better option if you’re putting oak flooring in a more water-prone area like a kitchen or an entryway. Plus, it can endure the daily wear and tear from messy pets or children.
In any home improvement project, cost, of course, is a factor. Red oak is more abundant than white oak, making it slightly more affordable. It is also important to note that the pricing of oak floors can fluctuate. So, if you are worried about budget, red oak might be the better option.
Need help deciding between white or red oak floors? Talk to one of our experts at Flooring America and get all the answers to your questions. Plus, when you stop by your local store, you’ll find samples to help you see the difference between the two.