Red oak vs White Oak hardwood. What's the difference? Katonah NY

Home Builder with The Flooring Girl

What is the difference between red oak and white oak hardwood?

red oak hardwood flooring Katonah New YorkOak flooring is the most popular species of hardwood here in Katonah NY.  Oak is a very practical wood, is readily available (grown and made in the US), very affordable and very easy to stain so you can find the color you prefer.  But many consumers don't realize that there are 2 species of oak - red oak and white oak flooring.

If you are installing new hardwood flooring everywhere, either red oak hardwood or white oak hardwood will work, and your choice will probably be dependent on which look/color you prefer as well as the price (the prices of red oak/white oak fluctuate, so in general there is not usually a major price difference, but this can vary slightly at any given time frame or based on the brand/grade/width of hardwood you are choosing.

If you already have oak flooring, and are adding additional oak flooring, you will want to match what you already have...that way, you will have a consistent look and wood will absorb the stain colors the same way.  I've seen it happen too often where a customer (or contractor) has mismatched the wood with red oak in some areas and white oak in others.  This means that your wood will never completely match - the graining will be different and the stain color will be different.


What's the difference between red oak flooring and white oak flooring?

Red Oak flooring - select grade                                                                   White Oak flooring - select grade

Red Oak flooring - Select gradeWhite oak hardwood flooring select grade1.  Color - red oak has a bit of a pinkish tint is a little bit lighter than white oak.  White oak tends to be a bit browner, darker and more yellow.  When you stain them, the difference between the 2 species decreases, especially the darker you go.  With lighter stains, the red oak tends to have a bit of red undertone in the color.


2.  Graining - red oak tends to have stronger graining than white oak hardwood.  White oak has a bit of a smoother look. Some people prefer the strong graining of red oak - both because they like the look and because the strong graining helps hide the scratches and dents; other prefer the slightly smoother grain of white oak and feel it's a less busy look.

Red oak vs White oak hardwood flooring - No 1 grade3.  Hardness - white oak flooring is a bit harder than red oak.  On the Janka hardness scale, White oak is 1360 and red oak is 1290.  But, as I mentioned above, even though red oak is a bit less hard, it tends to show the dents a bit less.


4.  Compatibility with stair treads and accessories - Red oak is more common in stair treads, saddles, banisters and other transitions.  If you have oak stair treads already in your home, chances are, they are red oak, so you may be better served matching that.  If you need to get new stair treads or other transitions, they are usually more readily available (and hence lower priced) in red oak.


5.  Price - In general, there is not a major price difference between red oak and white flooring.  Because unfinished hardwood is a commodity item, the price tends to fluctuate weekly.  At times, red oak costs more; at other times, white oak costs more.  the price will often vary based on width and grade.  And, very often, I have the red oak in 1 size as more expensive and white oak of another size is more expensive, and it literally changes all the time.


Please note that matching hardwood is a bit more complex than simply matching red oak vs. white oak.  Also, there are differences in grades of hardwood flooring (e.g. select grade vs No 1 vs. No2 vs quartersawn).  I will share this info in a future blog post.  But, if you are unsure what type of flooring you have, it's best to call in an hardwood flooring expert.

If you live in Katonah NY and would like to add hardwood flooring or refinish your hardwood floors, give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950 and let us "bring the store to your door."

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Katonah NY oak hardwood flooring - red oak vs. white oak floors. What’s the difference

Comments (25)

Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Debbie - Thank you so much.  I'm so glad you now know.

Harry - You are not alone.  White Oak tends to work better for brown colors as there is no red to drown out.

Oct 07, 2012 12:46 AM
Brian Kuhns
Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber - Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne Real Estate by Brian Kuhns

I didn't know there was that great a difference until now. I like the side by side pictures and can definitely see a difference in graining between the two. Thanks for sharing

Oct 07, 2012 12:53 AM
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, SRES
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

Nice post , and I can see how it should grab some attention in search, as well as referencing your post to potential customers!

Oct 07, 2012 01:12 AM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Debbie, believe me, you educate us so much so - I can answer some questions from my buyers based on what I learned from your post....thanks a lot...

Oct 07, 2012 01:20 AM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Brian - Good, I'm glad rhat helps.

Gary - Thx.  Yes, another version of this is my top visited post on my site.

Praful - Oh, that is so cool.  I'm so glad to hear that!

Oct 07, 2012 01:24 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

the developer I work with in this area, uses strictly "Select Red Oak", and I can confirm that it looks good, wears well, and stains nicely.

and knowing this developer, it must be reasonably priced, or he'd be buying something else.

Oct 07, 2012 02:01 AM
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Debbie,  Few flooring choices compare to an oak floor.  It will show dust and has a noise factor as you walk on it but gorgeous nonetheless !

Oct 07, 2012 02:28 AM
Stephen Turner
House Broker Realty - York, PA

Thank you for a great article. I think so often people think hardwood is hardwood and the truth is there are so many details to hardwood that should be paid attention too. By dooring so, you can ensure the client/customer gets the right floor for their situation. And, we become a better resouce for our customer's which in-turn will lead to increased refereals and sales.

Oct 07, 2012 02:54 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Debbie, nice post.  As a builder I put down lots of both.  One of my favorite floors was all done in "shorts" and was a mix of red and white---looked a bit like a crazy quilt :)

Oct 07, 2012 03:09 AM
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Debbie, your articles are always very informative. Thanks for explaining the differences between white and red oak.

Oct 07, 2012 04:03 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

If you hadn't of pointed out the subtleties, the graining in each for example, I might not have noticed.  I can just imagine having The Flooring Girl educate the customers.  And with this white oak / red oak it's why you know your wood floors (or laminate) ;-)

Oct 07, 2012 04:49 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Debbie- all I know is that if I'm in the market for flooring, I'm calling YOU.  You have always done a remarkable job of educating us. 

Oct 07, 2012 04:54 AM
Carie Shapiro
North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate - Evanston, IL

Who doesn't love a beautiful oak wood floor!  I never realized the difference between red and white oak either ... thanks for the informative explanation, Debbie!

Oct 07, 2012 11:17 AM
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


Thanks for another post that I have bookmarked and will share on my facebook business page.  All great information.   I don't know it there is a difference in oak flooring based upon area of the country.  Do you know?

Oct 07, 2012 01:13 PM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Debbie - Thanks again for answering a questions that comes up quite often.

Oct 07, 2012 01:20 PM
Michael Blue
Home Smart Realty West - Encinitas, CA
REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad
Oak is always going to be a popular floor covering choice for many Homeowners. I like the white better now.
Oct 07, 2012 01:27 PM
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Debbie thanks for your explanation of the difference between the Red and White Oak flooring.  Oak flooring is popular here too.

Oct 07, 2012 02:04 PM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Debbie, who knew oak was a commodity? But of course it is, silly me :) I think I almost know enough about flooring now to actually make a good decision thanks to you!


Oct 07, 2012 02:14 PM
Keith Lawrence
Christie's International - Mahwah, NJ

Good post.  Now I know the difference between red and white oak.  I do have both in my house and it is a slight difference as you mentioned.

Oct 07, 2012 11:16 PM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Good morning, Debbie...... most builders here use whit oak in their spec homes....they do a quick dry coat and two other coats of polyurethane with sandings in between.... some use prefinished that's solid wood!!

Oct 17, 2012 08:37 PM