Complete Guide on Oak Wood: Strong and Durable Hardwood!

From ancient times, wood is a prominent building material. Before the invention of cement, wood was the most-used material in the construction industry. Wood is an especially versatile material, which is commonly used to build houses, shelters and boats. In this modern era of concrete construction, it is also being used extensively for furniture and home decor industry.
There are many types of wood available in nature. Broadly, wood is classified as hardwood and softwood. Hardwood comes from deciduous tree that have broad leaves, produce fruit or nut, and are generally inactive in the winter. Softwood comes from the coniferous trees. These trees are also known as evergreen trees and leaves of trees do not fall till the new ones are grown. One of the widely available conventional woods is Oak wood. Here we have given brief information on Oak wood, its properties and its advantages & disadvantages, which a homeowner should know before purchasing Oak wood furniture.

What is Oak Wood?

Oak Wood is exceedingly strong, heavy and durable. It is an attractive light colour with a prominent grain and is resistant to fungal attack, thanks to its dense constitution and long-living nature, which must equip the tree for its long life time. Oak wood is priced for its strength uniformity and beautiful grain and it is classified as a hardwood.

Oak Wood Furniture

Appearance of Oak Wood

The shade of oak wood can vary from tree to tree and branch to branch. When a natural finish or oil is applied, the variations and contrasts of this gorgeous material shine, creating a beautiful natural feature in itself without the need for heavy ornamentation. Oak wood feels hard and smooth, depending on the finish.
Oak wood is a tropical hardwood. Oak is congenital to Northern Hemisphere, and found in North America, Asia, North Africa and Europe. North America contains the largest number of species of  Oak, while China stands at second position. According to ‘Jazib & Rather’ (2015) (Published in, An Ethno-Botanical Overview of Oak: A Multipurpose Wild Tree Species of the PirPanjal Himalayas), In India, oak forests form a considerable part of Pirpanjal Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir. Oak wood is used in construction since hundreds of years. It takes 150 years for oak tree to produce wood which can be used for construction. There are more than 600 species of oak wood.

The popular species of oak wood are as follows:

  • Red Oak
  • White Oak
  • Chestnut Oak
  • Scarlet Oak
  • European Oak
  • Bur Oak
  • Willow Oak
  • Pin Oak

Red oak and white oak are the two most widely used species of oak. Hence the article is written with reference to red oak and white oak.

Properties of Oak Wood

01. Colour/Grain:

  • Natural oak wood can take any colour; from light beige to brown and red. White oak wood is light brown in colour, while red oak wood has pinkish and reddish colour. Oak wood may darken slightly as it ages, due to exposure to oxygen and UV light. Oak wood has straight grain, and random texture.
Colours of Oak Wood

02. Hardness:

  • According to United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (2010), white oak has Janka hardness of 4900 Newtons, while red oak has Janka hardness of 4700 Newtons, which is fairly higher than that of Walnut and Cherry. Janka hardness test indicates the resistance of a wood sample towards denting and wear. You can know more information regarding Janka Hardness test in ASTM D143 – 94.

02. Rot Resistance:

  • Red oak and white oak has moderate resistance to rot, but European Oak or British Oak has very good resistance towards decay.

03. Termite Resistance:

  • Both white oak and red oak have less resistance to termite, hence are keen to termite attack.

05. Workability:

  • Oak wood is very easy to work with and finishes well with hand carved and machine tools. It is good for furniture with bends and glues very easily.

06. Odor:

  • Oak wood has a peculiar smell, which is common to all species of Oak.

07. Water Resistance:

  • White oak wood has small pores which allow less absorption of water, while red Oak wood has large pores which absorb water. Hence in conditions where water contact is obligatory, white oak wood must be preferred.

08. Maintenance and Cleaning:

  • It requires low maintenance and is very easy to clean. Regular dusting and wiping with wet cloth will preserve the shine of the surface. However, stains are to be removed with caution.

09. Dimensional Stability:
Both white oak wood and red oak wood have high shrinkage and hence are dimensionally unstable. The wood will expand in warm and humid climate and contract in cold and dry climate.
10. Cost:
Oak wood is mostly available and hence is less expensive as compared to other hardwoods.

Advantages of Oak Wood

01. Compatible with Rustic Interior Style:

  • With its unique grain and traditional colours, oak wood is compatible with rustic interior style. Very few species of wood are suitable for rustic interior style. Hence, it is very much in demand for users who love traditional homes.

02. Smooth Touch:

03. Good Workability:  

  • Oak wood has good workability which is an important property for carpenters. It can be easily hand-carved to form different artistic shapes as well as bent shape forms.

04. Takes Varnish Well:

  • Oak wood have a very smooth surface and takes varnish very well. It requires less amount of varnish and gives smooth finish as compared to other hardwoods.
Varnish on Oak Wood

05. Durability:

  • As it has good Janka hardness value, oak wood has fairly good resistance towards wear, which makes it durable. Oak wood has high durability as compared to other softwoods and hardwoods.

06. Less Expensive:

  • As oak wood is less expensive, it is widely preferred over hardwoods such as teak wood.

Disadvantages of Oak Wood

01. Not Compatible with Modern Style:

02. Does Not Get Along Iron:

  • White oak when comes in contact with iron, it gets discoloured.

03. Difficult to Get High Quality Oak Wood:

  • High quality oak wood is available in Russia and the United states. It takes oak 150 years to give high quality wood. If it is cut before that period, the durability and strength are not as required.

04. Needs Regular Polishing:

  • Oak wood needs to be polished regularly to maintain its beauty. It is recommended to first use sand paper and then apply polish on the surface.

Uses of Oak Wood

Oak wood has the following uses:

Solid Wood Flooring
  • Making doors, windows, partitions, deck railings, paneling, wall cladding, interior trims, etc.
  • Making outdoor furniture like garden benches and lounge chairs. In Indoor furniture, it is used in beds and wardrobes.
  • Veneer production.
  • White Oak is used in boat building.
  • White Oak is used for making barrels for wine.

The oak wood can be used in construction. While it has been primarily used as beams and structural frame before, it’s used as flooring, home wares and firewood.

There are two qualities that are important to the consumer of furniture: Durability and Appearance. Oak as a material can be used to make very sturdy and durable furniture. Oak was a favored material for commercial furniture. Oak is durable and inexpensive.

In conclusion, oak wood is popular due to its less cost and high durability. The excellent smooth finish of oak wood makes it more preferable for furniture. Oak wood furnishings can provide a natural and rustic interior to your home. Both white and red oak wood are excellent choices and work well in busy homes because of their durability.

An Oak log home is durable, strong, easy to maintain, beautiful, energy efficient, chemical free, and naturally resistant to insects and decay. We believe oak is the best wood to use because it excels in all above categories.

Also Read:
9 Tips to Buy Furniture for Your Home
Scandinavian Furniture for your Homes!
Nails vs Screws: Which is Better for Furniture?

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