Oak, Red – Total Wood Species Guide

PROS: The most popular of all the hardwood floor species in the United States, you’ll always be able to get red oak in all the parquet styles, as well as strip and plank. It has a most prominent grain pattern, and is so porous that most stains work well with this wood. It yields a very good finish. Very moderately priced and is available in at least 3 or 4 different grades. Its light pink tones age beautifully and turn amber when an oil-based finish is used. Its density and hardness make this floor covering long-lasting. Like white oak, red oak is also quite wear-resistant. Red oak also resists water well. Because of its density and hardness, it is a very practical floor covering option.

CONS: It’s so often used that it looks like everybody else’s floor. Being so popular it’s turning our hardwood forests into a mono crop of red oak. Remember what happened to the elm? This wood is becoming so mass produced that milling is getting sloppy in some of the lower grades. I would not install common #1 and #2 as they usually self destruct w ithin a decade. It’s too bad because 25-30 years ago I could use these cheaper grades to make some interesting floors.

TREE FACTS: The red oak is the state tree for New Jersey. These are more abundant than the white oak. Red oak is highly valued. Many similar oaks are marketed as red oak but they are of much poorer quality. It grows in the northeastern United States and the southeast of Canada.