Everything You Need To Know About American White Oak Timber

Are you considering American White Oak for your next project? Before making your choice, find out everything you need to know about this beautiful and strong timber species.

What is American White Oak Timber?

American White Oak Timber refers to a medium-density hard, heavy wood that is sourced from the Quercus alba tree, which is a species of oak native to North America. There are two main varieties of white oak in North America: northern white oak and southern white oak. Coming from the Appalachian Region, the denser White Oak is highly sought after. The wood is typically straight-grained with a medium to coarse texture. It has light beige hardwood with sapwood not always clearly differentiated. It also has large distinctive growth rings. It is commonly used for furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and other interior and exterior applications.

Is White Oak Durable?

American White Oak has a Durability Rating of 3-4, and is, therefore, not suitable for exteriors, unlike its European Oak cousin. However, its distinctive grain and density (750kg/m³ when kiln dried) make it a highly desirable choice for flooring, panellings & linings, cabinetry, staircase, and furniture.

Is White Oak Rare?

No. In fact, this species boasts being one of a select few species throughout the world which is actually increasing. A focused government initiative has meant planting vs harvesting is actually increasing. This makes the species a highly sustainable product.

Is Oak Wood Strong?

White Oak falls at a 6 (1360) on the Janka Hardness Scale making it a medium density. It is a hard and heavy wood, but still maintains good workability, making it a popular choice for furniture, cabinetry, staircase timber and architectural joinery; being used for exterior joinery such as lining & panelling products.

What is the Difference Between Red and White Oak?

The main differences between Red and White Oak are appearance and hardness rating.

Appearance – White Oak displays brown and yellow tones with a smooth, subtle grain. It’s great for contemporary style designs due to its mineral streaks. Red Oak has more of a pinkish tint with dark brown and red undertones and a strong grain pattern.

Hardness – White Oak is slightly harder than Red Oak, and therefore tends to dent less.

Water Resistance – White Oak is a closed-grain wood, and its pores are plugged with tyloses. As a result, White Oak is a lot more water-resistant and less likely to suffer from decay and rot.

Is Red Oak or White Oak Better for Flooring?

Oak, in general, is a very popular option for flooring due to its strength and durability. White Oak is generally the popular choice; however, both are used in flooring. While White Oak is slightly harder, both White and Red are still incredibly durable. American White Oak is slightly higher in density.

How Long Does it Take for a White Oak Tree to Mature?

White Oak trees can live for centuries. They take between 20-50 years to fully mature and have a moderate growth rate between 50-80 centimetres per year. At full maturity, White Oak can reach between 24-30 metres tall and 1-metre wide, with very strong branches.

Why is Oak so Widely Used to Make Furniture?

Oak is commonly used for furniture for a number of reasons. Although oak is mostly straight and a medium-density hardwood, it still has great workability, making it the perfect option for furniture. Its beauty, water resistance and longevity are also common reasons. It stains easily, can take to a wide variety of colours and is easy to machine, nail, glue and screw, which is an asset to building furniture. It steam bends very well enabling unique designs in furniture and handrails.

Where does White Oak Come From?

White Oak is a prominent hardwood tree along the coast of North America. It is most commonly grown in Minnesota, Ontario and Quebec, however, it can be found as far south as Texas and Florida.

Is White Oak a Hard or Softwood?

White Oak is a hardwood. Hardwood comes from deciduous trees that are characteristically slow growing and therefore denser. Hardwood trees are angiosperms, which produce seeds, shells or fruits. White Oak trees produce acorns.

What Prices are American White Oak?

The price of White Oak falls in the mid-range category of hardwoods. It is a sustainably sourced, common hardwood, making it a reasonably mid-priced option.

Which is Better – American White Oak or European White Oak?

American White Oak has a slightly different composition, and European White Oak tends to have a tighter grain and smaller growth rings. Both trees have the same hardness rating, however, Western European Oak (French, English Oak) has a higher level of durability and strength making it a great structural timber. European Oak is slightly taller and larger and is used if longer planks are required. Both types of Oak are versatile, have a medium to coarse texture and are great to work with.

Does White Oak sound like a perfect fit for your job? If you’re still unsure or you’d like an expert opinion, contact us at Coach House Timbers and we’ll assist you with the best timber selection.