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Difference Between Red Oak and White Oak

Main Difference

The main difference between Red Oak and White Oak is that Red Oak is a kind of lumber oak that has a pink tone and vary from white to light amber with broad grain lines, whereas White Oak is a kind of lumber oak that has a dark grey tone with narrow grain lines.

Red Oak vs. White Oak

Red oak is one of the deciduous oak trees such as Quercus borealis that contains acorns with a cup-shaped base and spiky leaves whereas, white oak is one of the oak trees such as Quercus alba that contains leaf veins that remain behind the leaf margin and acorns which requires one to grow mature. The width of red oak can expand more than 75 ft, while the width of white oak can expand above 100 ft. The color of red oak is a bit softer color that gives a pinkish tone, whereas the color of white oak has a darker tone of a little brownish and yellowish color. The color of the bark of red oak is in dark shade ranging from dark brown to black; however, the color of the bark of white oak bark is in the greyish shade.

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The red oak has a less hard characteristic comparatively; on the other hand, as they are useful in flooring, white oak has a harder characteristic. The measurement of red oak on Janka hardness rating strikes 1290, but the white oak hits 1360, the width of red oak is relatively narrow nearly 4 inches; on the flip side, the width of the leaves of white oak is broader extending from 4 to 6 inches. The lobes of red oak leaves have pointed shape; on the other hand, the lobes of white oak leaves have rounded shape. In the fall season, the red oak leaves change their color into bright red; on the contrary, the white oak leaves change their color into dense red to wine.

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The graining procedure of red oak is more strong as it is preferable due to its specialty of hiding indentations and scrapes, while the graining procedure of white oak is less strong as it has a preference due to its smoothness and less busy appearance. In the case of the growth of red oaks, it grows faster; on the other side, the growth of the white oaks is moderate. The maturation of white oak occurs at 75 ft, whereas the maturing phase of white oak is when it reaches the growth of 80 ft. The acorns of red oak contain smooth caps that have overlapping flakes; however, the acorns of red oak have uneven rough caps.

The price of red oak is less costly as it is plentiful or abundant; on the converse side, the price of white oak is somewhat high because it is not easily or readily accessible. They have the characteristic of repelling water; thus, red oak has less capacity for water resistance; conversely, white oak has the property of more water resistance than red oak.

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As they are prone to water resistance, red oak is more prone towards rotting, while white oak is less prone towards rotting as it is a closed-grain wood and decaying. The red oak shows more compatibility and is useful in banisters, stair treads, saddles, etc.; on the flip side, and the white oak is less compatible with stair treads and other accessories; however. Red oak is heavier, and the weight of white oak is less heavy than red oak.

Comparison Chart

Red OakWhite Oak
It is one of the oak trees, such as Quercus alba that contains leaf veins that remain behind the leaf margin and acorns, which requires one to grow mature.It is one of the deciduous oak trees, such as Quercus borealis that contains acorns with a cup-shaped base and spiky leaves.
Growth Rate
FasterSlow to medium
Maturation
Matures at 80 ftMatures at 75 ft
Width
75 ft100 ft
Bark Color
Dark brown to blackGray
Acorns
Smooth capsBumpy caps
Color of Lumber
Light, pinkish toneThe darker, yellow tone
Graining
It has wide grain wood with wavy patterns.It has narrow grain wood with straight patterns.
Hardness
Less hardHarder
Weight
Low weightHigh weight
Water-Resistant
Less water resistantMore water-resistant
Price
Less costlyMore costly
Rot Resistant
Less rot-resistantMore rot-resistant
Fall season
Leaves turn into bright red.Leaves turn into dense red to wine.

What is Red Oak?

Red oak is a kind of deciduous oak tree, also known as Quercus rubra, which has faster growth, nearly growing 20 ft in 10 years; other names of red oak are Northern red oak or champion oak. The width of the red oak can spread about 6 ft, whose height is 100 ft. The red oak has adapted to live in areas such as Central, South, and North America. The maturation of red oak takes place in 18 months and have broad use in wood paneling and making floors.

Its tree grows upright and tall in the forests with a height of 92 feet and sometimes 141 feet tall and having a width of above 20–39 inches of trunk. They are capable of developing a trunk that is fat and heavy enough with about 6.6 feet width along with stout branches that grow straight at right angles that make the top of the tree narrow-topped. Its growth is fast, and it resists various soils and hard circumstances; however, it prefers to grow at the regions of glacial drift and steams well-drained borders. The color of the lumber of red oak has a pink tone, and the color of its sapwood is white to brown. The has an open framework along with open capillaries and can absorb water into its wood, which makes it less resistant to water, causing pathogens to attack as well.

Uses

  • The logs which become faulty are useful for fireworks.
  • They are useful for construction purposes.
  • They are useful in flooring.
  • They have used for interior trim.
  • Red Oaks are useful in the construction of furniture.
  • They are useful for decorating purposes, such as veneering.
  • Red oaks also have ornamental uses, especially for Quercus rubra, including gardening.

What is White Oak?

The white oak is the type of lumber oak, also known as Quercus alba, which grows slowly to moderate spreading over large regions and has adapted to live in areas of Northern America. Significantly, it can spread over a wide area. In the spring season, it gives cool and frosty vibes as the new leaves have a color of pinkish silver tone; however, in the fall season, the leaves of white oak turn in to bright red color. The heartwood of white oak, including Quercus alba, is renowned in the East and North of America, which have a long life span oak with some of the samples having 450 years of age.

They are named as white oak even though they don’t have white bark, but the name is known for the color of its finished look; its actual color is light gray. The heartwood of white oak posses olive green color, but the color of its white oak turns to be light brown, and it is a harder nut not more than maple wood. It has the ability of high water resistance as it develops barriers in its xylem tissues known as tyloses; as a result, they stop the water from flowing in the wood.

Uses

  • They re useful in making woodcrafts due to the closed cellular structure that makes it rot-resistant and water-resistant, the white oak is used for making whiskey and wine barrels.
  • Its usage also includes construction, agricultural instruments, and for interior finishing, shipbuilding.
  • It is also useful in the production of musical instruments.
  • The oak also provides food for animals such as pheasants, squirrels, deer, wood ducks, jays, rabbits, turkeys, and other wildlife.
  • They also have ornamental uses

Key Differences

  1. The growth rate of red oak is higher than the white oak, which is slow comparatively.
  2. The maturation period of red oak is when it turns 80 ft tall, whereas the maturation occurs at 75 ft.
  3. The width of red oak can extend above 75 feet in diameter; on the other hand, the width of the white oak extends more than 100 feet.
  4. The width of red oak is relatively narrow, nearly 4 inches; on the converse side, the width of the leaves of white oak is broader extending from 4 to 6 inches.
  5. The lobes of red oak leaves have pointed shape, whereas the lobes of white oak leaves have rounded shape.
  6. In the fall season, the red oak leaves change their color into bright red; contrary to it, the white oak leaves change their color into dense red to wine.
  7. The acorns of red oak contain smooth caps that have overlapping flakes; on the flip side, the acorns of red oak have uneven rough caps.
  8. The Color of the lumber of red oak has a pinkish and lighter tone; however, the color of white oak lumber contains a yellow and darker tone.
  9. The red oak has wider grain wood with wavy patterns, contrary to white oak, that has narrow grain wood with straight lines.
  10. The hardness of red oak is less than white oak, which is harder comparatively.
  11. The red oak has less capacity for water resistance; on the other hand, the white oak has the property of more water resistance.

Conclusion

Both red oak and white oak are types of lumber oak; however, they differ in their appearance, color, hardness, and growth rate. The color of red oak has a pink tone with wider grain lines and a wavy pattern, having a faster growth rate, whereas the color of white oak has a yellow tone with narrow grain lines and straight pattern, having a slower growth rate.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White