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November 25, 2015

Oak is one of the most popular species used in hardwood flooring. If you’re considering oak flooring, you may be torn between the warm tones of white oak and the somewhat softer hues of red oak. It’s important to consider all the features of both types of flooring in order to make the right choice.


Ironically enough, red oak tends to be lighter in color than white oak, which is known for its golden brown hues. Red oak on the other hand contains slight traces of red or pink running through its light brown wood. Both are very attractive, so the choice is largely a matter of aesthetics. Those who are concerned with making a room feel lighter and brighter may prefer red oak, while those who would like to make their floor the focal point may desire white oak.

Wood Grain

Red and white oak also have different wood grain patterns. The grain is more distinct on red oak, while white oak has less noticeable grain and a smoother overall appearance. The deeper grain of red oak makes it possible to hide minor scratches and dents that might be more noticeable on white oak flooring. On the other hand, the smoother finish of white oak makes it easier to polish to a brilliant sheen.

Water Resistance

White oak contains closed grains and pores that make it extremely water resistant. By comparison, red oak has open grains and larger pores, and will therefore absorb water more quickly. This is an important aspect to consider when placing wood flooring in an area such as a basement that might be prone to water damage. White oak would be ideal in these areas, while red oak could be better suited in bedrooms and living rooms.

Hardness and Durability

Both species of wood are known for their incredible durability, although white oak is somewhat harder than red oak. White oak registers at 1360 on the Jenka Hardness Scale, while red oak is rated at 1290. This is only a slight difference overall, yet does mean that red oak is somewhat less durable than white oak. Even so, the fact that its wood grain tends to hide dents better means that red oak could still provide the same pleasing results for quite some time after installation.


The price of both species of wood is comparable, so cost is not normally a determining factor in one’s choice. The cost of both types of wood can fluctuate greatly based upon availability and the width and grade of flooring that’s chosen. Both take about the same amount of time to install, so the cost of labor to add a new floor will not vary much regardless of whether red or white oak is chosen.

Red and white oak are two species of wood that continue to be popular year after year. As such, homeowners will continue to enjoy an attractive, stylish floor for some time regardless of which one they choose.