Red oak vs white oak hardwood flooring

Red oak vs white oak hardwood flooring

Hardwood flooring is a popular choice here in Northern Virginia, and for good reason; our summers are quite humid, and our winters don’t get that cold (and when it does, it gets VERY cold). We don’t do things small here in NoVa, which is why you shouldn’t skimp on your hardwood floors either.

Oak is a very popular choice in hardwood flooring; it’s incredibly durable, affordable, and extremely versatile. If you’ve done any shopping for hardwood, you may have heard about Red Oak and White Oak. What’s the difference between the two, and what does that mean to your home?


One would think that naturally Red Oak would be red, and White Oak would be white, right? On the contrary. White Oak is a mix of browns and tans, ranging from dark brown to a taupe. Red Oak ranges in amber to cream with pink and red hues. Although either can be stained, the resulting stain will still contain the respective undertones. Lighter stains and white washes on Rd oak will still have the pink/red undertones, and the same for White Oak will result in yellow undertones (brown and tan).


White Oak will be slightly harder than Red Oak, so what does that mean to you? Well, that’s really going to depend on how important that is to you. White Oak and Red Oak aren’t that different in hardness. White Oak is very dense, which makes it a great choice for four season rooms that have heavier furniture in it. Red Oak is great for upstairs rooms, or rooms that have a lighter feel to them with furniture and décor to match.

Grain Pattern:

As noted by Valenti Flooring, Red Oak patterns tend to be more unique or ‘wild’[er] than the finer, less pronounced grain pattern common to White Oak. The grain in White Oak runs straighter and tighter than Red Oak with fewer swirls, circles or deviations. Red oak also has wider grain lines that can run in zigzag patterns, or subtle, wavy lines that are absent from White Oak. Another reason that Red oak fooring displays a more prominent grain pattern than White Oak is that it is lighter than White Oak. The smooth look of White oak can also be attributed to the fact that the dark grain is less noticeable against the darker wood. (source:


There isn’t a major difference between the price of Red and White Oak. The prices for both will fluctuate from time to time, so you may find that sometimes Red is more expensive than White, and vice-versa. Know what your budget is, and keep that in the back of your mind, as you go through the rest of the list to decide which type of oak you will ultimately select.

Book a consultation with one of our designers to get you on the right path. You can discuss the look of the room you’re going for, or the current look the flooring has to fit in with. You can also discuss concerns about longevity and sustainability to get the best flooring for you!
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