Oak hardwood floors have become the most popular species of hardwood since the 1980's because of its availability, practicality and affordability. It is also a hardwood that accepts stain well, so it's easier to find the stain that you prefer. What many consumers don't realize is that there are actually two different oak species, red and white. Here are a few character differences to help make your decision easier.
Red oak shows a pinkish tint to it naturally, where as white oak is more brown. Both absorb stain differently because of their graining and density. But the darker you stain both woods, the more similar they start to look. With lighter stains, however, red oak tends to pull more red tones as white oak tends to pull more yellow.
Graining in wood is one of its most telling and appealing features. Red oak has a stronger grain resulting in a busier look. This is popular with some clients because of the style they are trying to achieve and because it can help hide scratches and dents from traffic and wear. White oak on the other hand has a very classic look to it, a less busy feel because of its closed grain. It also tends to have longer "lines", which displays a more contemporary style.
Both of these wood species are fairly high up on the Janka Hardness Scale. Red oak comes in at 1290 and white oak comes in at 1360. While white measures just a few points higher, the graining in red oak tends to show imperfections a bit less.
You can't go wrong when it comes to oak flooring, whether it be red or white. Both species are great options and classic choices for flooring. The decision really comes down to the color choice. If you are wanting to stay on the "cooler" side of things, white oak is a great option. Especially if you are looking for a gray stain. If you are looking to stay on the "warmer" side of things, red oak is the species for you. Especially if you are wanting a bit of red in your stain choice.