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The Difference Between Red Oak and White Oak Hardwood Floors

Red and white oak hardwood floorings may look similar to a layman. But they are different in many aspects such as colour, graining, hardness, etc.

If you’re planning to install oak hardwood flooring in your home, then don’t confuse the two varieties. Both species are durable and provide a natural look to the floors, but they are not the same.

Let’s go into the differences between red and white oak hardwood floors.

  • Colour

White oak has a yellowish-brown colour while red oak has a pinkish undertone. The pink graining of red oak is often clearly visible in unfinished planks. If you select a natural finish for your red oak hardwood floors, then the reddish tone will be visible, but if you go for darker tones, then the colour difference between the two decreases. When stained, white oak becomes darker and browner while red oak becomes lighter and show pinkish undertone.

  • Grains

The grain patterns of red and white oak may look similar, but when you look closely you’ll notice the difference. White oak has a smoother look with straighter and tighter grains, whereas red oak has stronger and wider grains in a zigzag pattern. Stronger grains of red oak hardwood floors are more popular as it helps in hiding scratches and dents.

  • Hardness

Both varieties of oak hardwood flooring are hard and durable, but when talking about hardness, white oak hardwood is the winner. White oak scores 1360 on the Janka hardness scale while red oak scores 1290. It is harder and heavier than red oak and can be installed in high traffic areas. Due to its level of hardness, carbide-tipped blades and bits are required to cut white oak, while red oak can be cut with normal saw blades.

  • Cost

The prices of red and white oak hardwood floorings tend to fluctuate. Generally, there’s not much price difference between the two. Moreover, the price of these hardwood flooring options depends on the size and quality of the planks. Note that red oak trees have a wider diameter and are available in large quantities compared to white ones. Therefore, if you go for wider white oak planks, it will cost you more as they are a bit scarce.

  • Moisture Resistance

Red oak pores are more open and porous while pores on white oak are plugged with tyloses that slow down the progress of rot. Therefore, white oak hardwood floors provide more resistance to moisture and decay. Due to its moisture resistant features, it is an ideal choice for homes located in areas with high humidity levels.

Both red and white oak hardwood floors provide excellent performance but differ slightly in terms of appearance, price, grains, hardness, etc. Analyze the different aspects and decide what you expect from your floors.