10 Different types of oak wood for furniture


Oak wood

Oakwood makes great furniture, what oak wood to choose from? The following blog post will help you choose the different types of oak wood for building in or outdoor furniture. 

There are various types of oak wood that are readily available in the US, the most common ones being white oak and red oak. 

For anyone looking for a durable and aesthetically-pleasing material, oak hardwood takes the first slot for furniture, flooring, and other construction projects. That’s not just you, people around the world appreciate the furniture of oak wood.

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But did you know? There are more than 500+ species of oak wood. Read more: is oak hardwood or softwood?

You are not supposed to learn about each of them as it would take you years to understand. Moreover, it’s no fun to learn each of them at all unless you’re a student of botany and you’re given an assignment.

However, if you’re in the market purchasing the furniture.

you must know the common types of oak wood before buying a set of furniture. Just to make sure you’re making the right choice. As different species of oak can bring up different results.

Durability, price, warping, water resistance, and so on are factors that may affect your decision. Therefore, it’s important to know the pros and cons of the oak wood you are planning to purchase. 

Related:

Is oak wood good for furniture?

Most Popular types of oak wood for furniture

Speaking of popular species of oak wood for furniture, here are some you will hear in the market. 

Remember, each group has its own subspecies, so you should consider these groups to be the parents.

  1. White oaks (Leucobalanus)
  2. Red oak (Erythrobalanus)
  3. Black oaks (Cyclobalanus)
White Oak1360
Red Oak 1320
Black Oak1300
Northern Red Oak1290

1. White Oak

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_alba

It is one of the hardest oak trees in the wood family, with a Janka Hardness rating of 1360 out of 4000.

Among the oak species, white oak is the most durable wood. It better resists water as its pours are closed which makes the top surface not absorb water. 

White oak originates from the eastern United States and has many subspecies, although those are not popular as some take too long to grow, and others don’t have enough strength.

There are about 8 useful species of white oak that are used for making items of furniture in our life.

As red and white oak are popular and their furniture almost shares similar properties. Mind that, these are named not because of their color. It’s something more botanical that distinguishes the genesis of each.

This means that white oak is not white, but its color is light and its core is light brown to dark brown, sometimes it gives a pinkish hue.

The white oak’s high calcium/tannin content and natural oils provide great protection against fungi and insects, so the oak has excellent decay resistance.

2. Red Oak

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_rubra

Red oaks, also known as Quercus Rubra, are oak trees that have acorns and leaves with spiny teeth. 

In addition to its straight-grained appearance and coarse texture, this oak is particularly useful for shelves, furniture, home fixtures, etc.

Wood is widely famous all over the world due to the fact it grows almost everywhere in all regions. However, it’s domestic to North America, you can easily avail yourself in the united state.

With its pinkish tone to light brown color, the furniture brings up a pinkish hue with beautiful patterns, adding an aesthetically pleasing appearance to your place.

It ranks in the middle of all the woods in North America in terms of hardness, with the exception of Black Walnut which is one of the denser wood found on planet earth.

3. Black Oak

Quercus kelloggii - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_kelloggii

Quercus velutina, or black oak wood, is another common type of oak wood. Used in a number of different ways. Construction of furniture, cabinets, and cabinetry, as well as interior trim, can be done with oak because it provides a very strong oak foundation. 

The durability of black oak wood makes it ideal for flooring projects including decks, porches and doors.

The dark brown color provides great contrast when using black oak to build projects that have lighter wood tones already incorporated into them. 

Additionally, black oak is soil-resistant as well as durable. Even harsh weather conditions such as ice, snow, and rain don’t damage this type of oak.

Black Oak has the same Janka Wood Hardness Scale rating as Red Oak – 1280.

4. CHERRYBARK OAKWOOD

The name Cherrybark oakwood refers to the oak species Quercus pagoda. 

Cherry bark oakwood is the best oakwood in North America, which is characterized by its smooth, strong grain pattern and reddish-brown color (called heartwood, which makes up about half of oak tree wood).

Depending on where they grow best, oak trees are classified into different types. In Sunset’s Climate Zones 8, 9, and 14, cherry bark oak grows best.

 It grows to 130 feet tall and has a trunk that can measure 36 to 60 inches in diameter.

Like other oak wood species, cherry bark oak wood has a coarse texture and dark gray bark. With maturation and growth, the oak bark will look blackish-gray to brown, with narrow, scaled ridges.

Despite its strength, cherry bark oak wood is lightweight.

The wood is stable and decay resistant, so it’s perfect to build furniture, cabinets, doors, and other architectural elements, such as staircases.

Furthermore, the natural chemicals in this plant repel pests, such as cockroaches and termites. 

As well as being treated with preservative chemicals, this oakwood can be used for outdoor projects without having to treat each piece separately.

Cherry bark oakwood measures 1,480 lb on the Janka Wood Hardness Scale, making it as hard as oakwood can be.

5. WILLOW OAK

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_phellos

The Willow Oak species is found in the Eastern and Central U.S. and is known for its willow-like leaves that appear green during spring but turn to shades of red/orange during fall.

Its distinctive feature is its fine grain and slight pores on the outer surface, which look like little vertical lines running through the wood. 

The wood’s color is tinged with a light brown tint. 

The texture is medium, straight-grained, and dense. 

A high moisture absorption rate makes it quite unstable in changing weather conditions as well as medium durability for decay resistance.

Having a moderate bending and crushing strength, willow oak wood is hard, strong, and tough. Planning and machining are difficult due to their interlocked grain pattern. The fabric also shrinks easily and is not stain-resistant.

Among other oak species, willow oak’s special grain pattern sets it apart. Oak lumber’s distinctive grain pattern is not at all similar to veins found in nearly any other oak family member but appears to be natural pores.

The North American oak species has many impressive attributes, but it is lacking in strength characteristics, such as shock resistance and stiffness, which makes it unsuitable for use in critical applications requiring high durability.

Janka wood hardness scale values for willow oak range from 1,360 lbs to 1,460 lbs. 

6. PIN OAK

Throughout the eastern half of North America, the pin oak tree is found. 

During spring, this oak group member has leaves that are spear-shaped and appear bright green, but turn a red, yellow, or orange color as the autumn approaches.

From this North American oak tree, oak wood is made with fine grains and an even texture. Its color is brown with a very faint yellow tint.

With the combination of a straight grain pattern and interlocked grain pattern, pin oak lumber is durable with a medium to fine texture.

Even though pin oak wood is heavy, its uneven texture makes it fragile when used to create oak furniture or oak home décor items.

According to the Janka scale, Pin Oak has a hardness rating of 1500 lbf, so it is relatively durable. Pin Oak is also stainable and finishable. 

7. ENGLISH OAK

English oak | Description, Tree, Leaf, Wood, & Facts | Britannica
https://www.britannica.com/plant/English-oak

Usually found in Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor, English oak is also referred to as European oak.

English oak’s color ranges from light to medium brown with a slight olive cast. This oak is characterized by a straight grain, a coarse texture, and a slightly uneven appearance. 

Depending on the conditions of the trees’ growth, oak trees may even have interlocked or irregular grains.

Its heartwood is highly durable and long-lasting, making it popular for forestry. Furniture and interior design lovers love this oak wood.

The fine grain pattern in English oak wood makes it an excellent choice for furnishing projects and for home decoration projects.

Using the Janka Wood Hardness Scale, English oak has a hardness rating of 1,120 lb. 

8. CHESTNUT OAK

chestnut oak | plant | Britannica
https://www.britannica.com/plant/chestnut-oak

Known as rock oak because it grows in rocky areas, chestnut oak is a member of the white oak family native to Eastern North America. 

On steep, rocky sites, the chestnut oak exhibits a higher survival rate than other oaks in its range. Initially pink, the blooms turn silvery and finally dark green. In addition to its silvery-white bark, the chestnut oak has beautiful leaves.

A chestnut oak’s color varies from medium to dark brown, which is reflected in its straight, greyish-brown grain, sometimes lighter in color and slightly wavy in appearance. The oak species in question has a texture that is evenly grainy and has a moderately coarse structure.

As a result of the semi-ring structure of this oak wood, it is heavy and provides strength and is therefore perfect for fences and railways.

Chestnut oak is rated 1,130 lbs hard according to the Janka Wood Hardness Scale.

9. BUR OAK

bur oak | Tree, Leaf, Bark, & Facts | Britannica
https://www.britannica.com/plant/bur-oak

In the eastern and mid-western United States, as well as in south-central Canada, the bur oak, also called mossy cup oak or mossycup white oak, is a common species of oak. A bur oak’s trunk diameter typically exceeds 10 feet, making it among the biggest oak species.

It has a dark grayish brown color with a hint of the olive cast. Bur oak is a highly durable wood that is among the white oak group for its high quality. It has a very high decay resistance. Its heartwood has a dense, polishable texture.

As a result of its density and nice color, bur oak makes great furniture and home decor. It can be used for interior cabinet parts that are not visible to the eye, such as drawer slides, rails, and other parts that require secondary cabinet wood.

Bur oak lumber has a Janka Hardness rating of 1,360 lb, which is higher than white oak. However, because of bur oak trees’ increased branching and open growth characteristics, the lumber isn’t as valuable as white oak.

10. NORTH RED OAK

Northern Red Oak: A Tree of Ease - Arbor Day Blog
https://arbordayblog.org/treeoftheweek/northern-red-oak-tree-ease/

During the spring blooming season, Northern Red Oaks produce fragrant pollen-producing flowers with pointed leaf tips.  

There is a range of brown to almost black colors in the oak tree’s acorns, which are about 1 inch in diameter. With exposure to tannin acids, the heartwood of northern red oak can become darker in color.

The heartwood of northern red oak is usually pink in color. 

Oaks of other types have a smooth, straight grain while northern red oaks have a coarse texture. In terms of strength and hardness, this wood is exactly like a walnut, but a little heavier.

Because it’s sturdy, beautiful, and great for oak woodworking projects, red oak makes an ideal material for oak furniture design projects. Flooring, paneling, and cabinetry can be constructed from red oak.

Northern red oaks measure 1,290 pounds on the Janke Hardness Scale.

Are there really “different” types of oak wood?

While there are hundreds of different species of oak trees, they all share certain traits.

White oak and red oak are the two most common types. Both are great for building durable furniture, regardless of whether it is used indoors or outdoors. 

Other species of oak also possess similar properties- but not as well as white and red oak – they all have hard sapwood and a soft, spongy heart center that makes up 10-20% of the tree’s total cross-sectional area.

Around the world, oak trees grow in temperate climates with moderate temperatures. Many species are home to North America.

As with many countries with temperate climates around the world, including Poland and France, oakwood makes up a large percentage of construction materials.

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