Red Oak Hardwood or White Oak Flooring: Which Should You Choose?


You can’t go wrong with a hardwood floor. Using woods of all types to create a warm, timeless look is always on trend and can match any décor. If you are building a new home or renovating an older house, you may have more specific questions about the types of wood you can choose for real hardwood flooring. What are the advantages of oak flooring? What is the difference between red and white oak flooring? And, perhaps most importantly, is there a wrong choice among these options?


Comparing and Contrasting Red and White Oak

While you may guess that red oak flooring has a rosier hue, this does not adequately describe the differences between the two hardwoods. Red oak and white oak differ from each other in terms of color, grain pattern, and density.


1. Color

Unfinished red oak wood does feature a warmer tone than white oak, but don’t assume that it will be a dark, warm red. This is where staining comes in. White oak, while not as warm, is slightly darker than natural red oak. The stain you choose for your floors will bring out the warmth, or lack thereof, of the wood.


2. Grain Pattern

This refers to those lines you see in hardwood floors. Course grain patterns result in more porous wood, which means the wood is not as dense. Red oak has a stronger grain pattern than white, which means it has more texture. White oak is stronger and denser due to its finer grain.


3. Density

A hardwood’s Janka scale rating expresses the density of the wood. Red oak has a Janka rating of 1290, while white oak’s Janka number is 1360. This means that white oak, in addition to having a finer grain pattern, is denser than red oak wood. When flooring a room, this number may factor into your decision. If you have pets or small children, or frequently rearrange your furniture, you may want to choose a denser wood that is slightly less likely to show wear and tear.


Understanding How Grade Factors Into Your Decision

Learning about the “grade”— or the amount of usable hardwood that can be sourced from a particular board — of hardwood may solidify your decision. The more hardwood you can source from the same board, the more consistent the color and quality of that wood will be.


A “clear” grade nets you mostly heartwood, or wood is sourced from an area of the tree with the least amount of color variation and imperfections. On the other hand, “select” hardwood is still of great quality, but because it is sourced from heartwood and sapwood, you will notice more marks, indentations, and spots. If you are looking for an overall sleek aesthetic, clear is the way to go. If you like character in your wood, look into select specimens.


Making a Choice

Whether you ultimately decide on red oak or white oak should be a decision based on a number of factors, but mostly it comes down to personal taste and aesthetics. If you would like more information about hardwood flooring, contact Blue Ridge Floors today for details. Reach out to learn about the steps in our flooring process, to set up an appointment for a customized estimate, or simply to discuss the differences between red and white oak flooring!


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