Red Oak vs White Oak Hardwood

Did you know that Red Oak isn’t actually red, and White Oak isn’t actually white?

White Oak usually comes in a mix of tans and browns, making it far lighter than Red Oak. On the other hand, Red Oak appears to have a pink undertone. That being said, the colour difference becomes clearer when you stain the floors. When the staining is light, you’ll notice the difference more distinctly. Although when the staining is dark, the colour difference diminishes. Now other than the colour difference, lets go over some more key differences.


The hardness will determine the stability and density of the flooring. The Janka hardness scale lists Red Oak flooring at 1290 and White Oak hardness at 1360. Because White Oak is harder than Red Oak, it has a greater resistance. White Oak is also very dense, which makes it more suitable for outdoor furniture and boat building. Some claim that the density of White Oak makes it a more stable species (less seasonal movement) than Red Oak, but both types of hardwood flooring will have some seasonal movement. Both Red and White Oak flooring are excellent choices for long-term durability for most homes. 

Grain Pattern:

The grain pattern refers to the arrangement pattern. Red Oak grains are wider, and can look zigzag or wavy. White Oak grains appear straighter, closely packed, and more uniform. 

Water Resistance:

Water resistance is a hot topic when discussing flooring. When a plank of wood is water-resistant, it means water does not damage it easily.  When comparing White Oak vs Red Oak, White Oak is more water resistant. This is because of the closely arranged graining and ray pattern. Its graining pattern appears closer with pores filled with tyloses. Although White Oak is more water resistant, Red Oak is more resistant to scratches. This feature is attributed to the smooth surface of Red Oak.

Overall, there is no wrong decision when choosing between Red or White Oak, as both have great features. Typically Red Oak hardwood flooring is an excellent place to search for durable flooring. In fact, some people see Red Oak as the industry’s benchmark. Red Oak appears rustic, and although its graining pattern may be somewhat scattered, it is still a perfect choice for a natural look. On the other hand, White Oak floors are more water-resistant than Red Oak floors. This is due to the closely arranged graining and ray pattern. Its graining pattern appears closer with pores filled with tyloses. 

In the end, either is a fine choice for long-term durability and beauty. It’s really just a matter of taste as to which you prefer and what your overall goals are. Oak is a very practical choice for hardwood flooring as it is a very durable wood that can last well over 100 years. One of our flooring experts can advise you as to which would be best for your home. 

Tyloses: Tyloses are balloon-like swelling or projections that fill the vessels. When a tyloses is fully formed it plugs the vessel. The vessel can no longer conduct water. Tyloses form on some trees, such as white oak. 


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