Is oak wood strong and durable?


Oak trees

This blog explains why oak is a strong and durable wood.

If you are in the market with intentions to purchase strong timber for building a set of furniture. Choosing oak wood is a wise decision when you want strong, durable hardwood at an affordable price. Read more: Advantages and disadvantages of oak wood.

Maple and cherry also are good options without any doubt and good for building furniture. Read more: Is oak furniture expensive?

But the thing is the price factor here. Not everyone will want to invest a great amount of money. These hardwood trees are exclusive, not readily available in all regions. Because these are imported woods, the prices in the United States are higher. Read more: How long does it take to grow an oak tree?

The oak wood is therefore popular, its price is reachable and provides quality in return.

But you should that there are more than 500 species of oak trees that grow all over the world. Some can be strong and durable while others not. The physical properties vary from species to species. Read more: Different types of oak wood for furniture

So to keep the guide simple and meaningful to you, we’ll be talking about only red and white oak which are both popular types of oak hardwoods.

Is oak the strongest wood on the planet?

No. Oak trees are not the strongest in the world. But that’s said it’s one the strongest cheap hardwoods after cherry, walnut, maple, ash, mahogany, and several others which are expensive. Among the types of oak trees, the most durable is the white oak species, the second is red oak.

Read more to see the number given on the basis of strength. Wood strength.

If you’re thinking what are some qualities that make white oak a good choice. Read more Is oak makes good furniture?

White oak has closed pores, the surface is scratch-free. The no space between the cells does not allow water to destroy the wood, meaning it’s good for outdoor projects. 

Oak strength vs other woods.

Before we compare oak strength with other similar woods. Mind that, the term “strength” can be applied in different ways to measure the overall strong ability of wood.

Meanwhile, a wood’s strength is measured in the following ways.

  1. Compressive strength: This metric indicates how much load a wood species can withstand aligned with its grain. In simple terms, the value tells us What is the maximum weight a table leg can sustain without bowing?
  1. Bending strength: Values indicate how much load a tree can bear perpendicular to its grain. How much weight can you hang on a hook?
  1. The stiffness or modulus of elasticity: The value tells how much the wood will bend in the face of a load applied perpendicular to it. In simple terms, it tells us How far will those shelves sag when applied weight on them?
  1. The hardness: The value shows how hard and durable the wood’s surface is. This means, for example, how long will that kitchen counter remain unscratched and new?
Wood SpeciesCompressive Strength (psi)Bending Strength (psi)Stiffness (Mpsi)Hardness (lb)
Alder, Red5,8209,8001.38590
Ash7,41015,0001.741,320
Aspen4,2508,4001.18350
Basswood4,7308,7001.46410
Beech7,30014,9001.721,300
Birch, Yellow8,17016,6002.011,260
Butternut5,1108,1001.18490
Cherry7,11012,3001.49950
Chestnut5,3208,6001.23540
Elm5,52011,8001.34830
Hickory9,21020,2002.16
Maple, Hard7,83015,8001.831,450
Maple, Soft6,54013,4001.64950
Oak, Red6,76014,3001.821,290
Oak, White7,44015,2001.781,360

How durable is oak wood?

If you are thinking about whether or not the oak furniture will be durable. If you will keep the furniture in your backyard where the rain, moisture, bugs, are the major hazards. 

The answer is. YES! The durability of oak wood is great, only a few can match it, you can be fully assured about its furniture longevity. That’s said, choosing oak for your furniture is not less than a lifetime investment.

The white oak stands out for its exceptional characteristics when used in outdoor projects. 

  • The tannin content makes it resistant to pests and bugs. Furthermore, oak contains natural compounds that prevent bugs from eating, which makes it a suitable material for making roof beams.
  • The Top surface is quite harder than oak wood. Accidental Scratches will not damage the surface.  
  • The great density of oak wood means that there is very little space between cells. That also means moisture cannot easily enter and damage the wood.

Red oak vs white oak? Strength

Generally, in the markets, the oak wood you see is either red oak or white oak. In terms of strength, both are highly valued regardless of the furniture being built. But, white oak is more suitable for outdoor projects and projects where water is the concern.

But comparing red and white oak species. White oak has stronger physical properties, it will cost you more than red oak. 

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