Red Oak Hardwood Flooring vs. White Oak Hardwood Flooring.. What is the difference?

When it comes to hardwood flooring, there are many options. Oak is known for its durability and long life and because of this, it has been the traditional floor covering used for centuries. Oak flooring is the most popular species of hardwood here in Calgary and in Alberta as general. When choosing white or red oak hardwood flooring, the decision is primarily based on appearance. The two most popular hardwood flooring used is White Oak and Red Oak.


If you are installing new hardwood flooring everywhere, either red oak hardwood or white oak hardwood will work, and your choice will probably be dependent on which look/color you prefer as well as the ..If you already have oak flooring, and are adding additional oak flooring, you will want to match what you already have…that way, you will have a consistent look and wood will absorb the stain colors the same way. I’ve seen it happen too often where a customer (or contractor) has mismatched the wood with red oak in some areas and white oak in others. This means that your wood will never completely match – the graining will be different and the stain color will be different.


The primary difference between these two types of hardwood is color: Red oak does have a “pinkish” undertone. Often in the unfinished form, you’re able to clearly see the pink graining. Depending on which stain you choose, the red/pink tones will be less noticeable. Don’t forget that the darker you go, the more that red undertone will drown out. However, if you’re going to keep a natural finish, the red will show through much more. White oak is darker; yes, it’s actually a bit darker than red oak. White Oak often has a yellow and brown undertone. Also, bear in mind that you can stain both red oak and white oak flooring to be darker. They both accept the stain colors a bit different, so it’s important to test them on your floors. White oak tends to come out a bit darker and browner while red oak tends to come out a bit lighter and has a bit of red undertones. You tend to notice the red undertones more in red oak with lighter stains; the darker you go, the more it drowns out the pink/red


GRAINING– red oak tends to have stronger graining than white oak hardwood. White oak has a bit of a smoother look. Some people prefer the strong graining of red oak – both because they like the look and because the strong graining helps hide the scratches and dents; other prefer the slightly smoother grain of white oak and feel it’s a less busy look.

Compatibility with stair treads and accessories – Red oak is more common in stair treads, saddles, banisters and other transitions. If you have oak stair treads already in your home, chances are, they are red oak, so you may be better served matching that.



Please note that matching hardwood is a bit more complex than simply matching red oak vs. white oak. Also, there are differences in grades of hardwood flooring (e.g. select grade vs No 1 vs. No 2 vs quarter-sawn). If you are unsure what type of flooring you have, it’s best to call in an hardwood flooring expert.


Conclusion: Both red and white oak are great options. Some people prefer the look of red oak while others prefer white oak. If you are starting from scratch, pick your favorite. If you are adding to existing hardwood, it’s generally best to match.


For more info about staining and finishing oak hardwood flooring , please contact Advantage Hardwood at 403 995 9779. Serving Calgary, Okotoks, Nanton, Turner Valley, Priddis, Millarville, Bragg Creek, Heritage Pointe and area…

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