This comparison chart shows the typical color and graining of some of the most popular species which are used as a flooring material. Click on any image to learn more about the properties, workability, usage and other information for the particular wood species. Please note that this is just a partial list. If you don’t see the wood species that you’re looking for, give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Quercus rubra (red oak) / Quercus alba (white oak)
Other Names and Species:
There are about 600 spices exist. Usually “Oak" appears in the names of species in related genera.
The genus is native to the northern hemisphere, and includes deciduous and evergreen species extending from cold latitudes to tropical Asia and the Americas.
The heartwood and sapwood of red oak are similar in appearance, which is light-colored with a reddish tone. It is slightly redder in colour than white oak, which can have a white to cream to light brown colour. The grain of red oak is open, and also somewhat coarser, and so more porous, than that of white oak, which tends to have longer rays. These distinctive rays are what make white oak so prized for construction of “Mission" style furniture and woodwork. Depending on whether the wood is plain sawn, rift sawn, or quarter sawn, the grain of both red and white oak can have a plumed or flared appearance, a lighter grain pattern with low figuring, or a “flake" pattern that is referred to as “tiger rays" or “butterflies." Red oak boards can show a pronounced variation in appearance, depending on subspecies group, origin, growing season, and other factors; white oak, however, shows much less variation.
White oak is slightly harder than red oak, and also more durable. However, both types are notably stiff and dense, have high shock resistance, and resist wear. Because of the high concentration of tannic acid in white oak, it is particularly resistant to fungi and insects.
White oak has hardness ranking of 1360, while red oak is 1290. Both red and white oak have good resistance to splitting and excellent holding ability. Red oak sands better than white; by contrast, white oak has better machining qualities. Because of its relatively high porosity and low concentration of tannin, red oak works better for bleached floors than white oak, which can turn green or brown when the surface comes in contact with bleach or water-based finishes.
Oak is practically synonymous with high-quality, durable, and distinctively attractive wood floors. In addition, it is widely used in ship building, furniture and veneers, kegs and casks, truck and trailer beds, caskets, panelling, and mining timbers. Oak also makes a nice-burning fuel wood, and it yields tannin for the formulation of dyes.