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Red Oak Vs White Oak Flooring

Oak flooring is one of the best types of hardwood to get. It is both popular and very affordable for customers. Also, it serves well as a practical option for homeowners. The floors when well-made with a proper finish, can last long. An oak flooring can last up to fifty years depending on how it is maintained.

There are two types of oak flooring; white oak and red oak. An untrained glance at the two types will not reveal any difference. They both have a similar look. But more often than none, customers go for white oak without realizing it. They may look the same but this article will walk you through the differences.

Differences Between Red Oak And White Oak Flooring

Red Oak FlooringWhite Oak Flooring
Has a pink / red undertone  Has a lighter color with brown undertones
Grain pattern is more visibleGrain pattern not visible
Not resistant to rot in the long runIs more resistant to rot
Readily available and thus less expensiveUsually more expensive
Less resistant to waterHas more water resistance properties
More porousLess porous
Absorbs stain faster  Doesn’t absorb stain fast.

There is no doubt about the clear similarity between red and white oak floors, but only a few can spot the differences. Both are good types of flooring, though they differ in strengths which serves as their distinguishable features. These are some of the distinguishable features of both oak flooring types. 

1. Color

Looking at just their names, most would expect white oak to have a lighter color intensity than its counterpart. White oak has a mixture of brown and niece undertones, some do bear yellow tints, which gives it a darker look. On the other hand, the red oak comes in a mixture of red and pink undertones. It can’t be said which would suit an area best. It all depends on your preference. The undeniable fact is the vibrancy of the colors of these floors.

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2. Hardness

 Both floors are one of the strongest hardwood for building purposes, though one is slightly weaker than the other. According to standard measurements, the white oak tops the other, with a close gap. But since the difference is not too noticeable, it is wrong to disqualify the red oak with this feature. Though the high hardness means a more durable material, it is difficult to see through. 

3. Grain Pattern

 Their similarity is unquestionable, but there is a major way of distinguishing the two-floor types. Take a look at the grain, the grain of one is more visible than the other, this will be the red oak. This visibility is dependent on the weight and sturdy nature of the floor, being the lighter one, red takes the cake.

 Its grain pattern is a wild mixture of swirls and deviations. The patterns are also made of wide lines which are sometimes zig-zag or wavy, varying from wood to wood. The other floor type has a grain pattern of tight and small lines, which is more uniform than the red. Plus the lines give off a closed-gap grain pattern.

4. Rot Resistance

 White oak compared to red oak, has a higher resistance level against the elements of weather. A reason why red oak is mostly used for interior flooring. Exterior flooring works best as white oak, though it can be used for interior flooring as well. White oak flooring can also keep up or adapt better to the seasonal changes in an area, better than its red counterpart.

5. Affordability

Hardwood floors made of oak have a cheaper range of prices compared to other hardwoods, but between each other, the red oak is quite cheaper. This is as a result of its abundant nature over white oak. It is quite easier to find or locate a red oak tree, their population is higher than that of the white oak.

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6. Water Resistance

 The harder the wood, the lower the chance of soaking up water. Thus, white oak is more resistant to water than red. Its closed-gap grain pattern also plays a part in making it more suitable for indoor use and the flooring of boats.

7. Stain Absorption

 Since red is more porous than white, it can absorb the color much easier than the other. However, it does not work well with lighter hues such as grey, this suits the white better. It works best with darker color mediums. These are the main distinguishable features.

White Oak Vs Red Oak Flooring Difference For Professionals 

For professionals, they do not use these physical features to tell one apart from the other. There are two tests to try out

a. Endgrain Test

This test involves picking up an end-grain sample, then with careful observation, spot out the pores of the wood. For the red oak, the pores will be open, while the other one will be filled up with a substance. The substance is called tylose; an outgrowth of xylem vessels. The reliability of this method depends on checking the right section; the heartwood. For other parts, both kinds of wood possess open pores.

b. Chemical Identification Test

This is a confirmatory test, which can only be performed on raw wood. A solution of sodium nitrate is used for the process. It is made of a cup of water to four teaspoons of sodium nitrate. This solution should be poured on a spot to reveal color, after 25 minutes. A dark greenish-purple indicates the white oak, while a darker patch of its original color, proves otherwise. Testing kits are also available, which uses wood shavings as their test materials.

With all these in mind, leaving the usage of either floor type to fate is not an option anymore. These differences will guide you to make the right choice for your home or any other building area. It may seem one is better than the other; white oak in terms of hardness and durability. But it does not mean the red oak is not durable at all. Make the right choice according to your needs with these in mind.

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Is White Oak A Good Hardwood Floor?

That is a very good question to ask. Just because it is better than its counterpart; the red oak, does not mean it is good to use, right? Your worries may be unfounded in this case. Here are a few benefits that make it qualified for your flooring needs;

White oak has a more modern look than most: Amongst all the hardwood floor-types, the white oak stands out with a more contemporary look for homes and offices. This is because the growth rings are closer together, so the graining is smoother and has a more uniform flow at the same time.

It is water-resistant: Since most of the pores of the wood are filled with tyloses, water cannot seep through the wood with ease. Also, thanks to the close-grain nature of the white oak, it is resistant to weather elements, especially humidity.

It is easy to stain white oak: Adding colors or changing the entire color tone of the wood is quite easy compared to other hardwood floors. Plus, the result is never disappointing.

It is both hard and durable: It has a recorded Janka strength of 1380 which is a huge indicator of hardness and strength. Combined with other factors, makes it a durable flooring material.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Red Oak Floors Darken With Age?

Yes. The red oak floor tends to darken as the flooring age. It changes from its original pink undertone to amber or golden brown color with age. This only tends to add to the beauty of the red oak flooring. We good maintenance, the red oak floor will last for a long time.

Why Is White Oak More Expensive Than Red Oak?

It is no news that the white oak floor is generally more expensive than the red oak flooring. The question is why is that so? The reason the white oak floor is more expensive is that the red oak wood is readily available. Thus, this makes it less expensive than the white oak.