Purchasing a new hardwood floor is exciting, but picking between different hardwood species, textures, and colours can be confusing if you haven’t already done a bit of preliminary research. If you’ve been considering installing an Oak floor, it’s likely you’ve already mulled over a few white and red oak floor board options. But what are the differences between these two popular hardwood styles? Today, we’ll take an in-depth look at the differences in aesthetics and durability of red and white oak flooring.

red vs white oak flooring


On first thought, it may seem obvious that the colours and tones of white and red oak are the same as their name-sakes; surprisingly, however, these two popular hardwood planks can come in a variety of tones and colours that couldn’t be further from their titles. In its raw state, red Oak flooring has a soft pink tint and a very light tone, while white Oak flooring tends to come in shades of light brown to soft yellow in its unfished state. Once milled and processed, however, white and red oak planks can take on a variety of different shades and tones.

Grain Patterns

Another method of determining the difference between red and white oak flooring is the grain pattern. Red oak flooring tends to have a heftier, more pronounced grain pattern, while white oak is known to have a dainty grain pattern with tighter “growth rings” in the end grain.

Water Resistance

Arguably the most important thing to consider is your floor’s ability to resist moisture and spills. Unlike red oak, white oak flooring is universally known to be water resistant because of the tyloses filling the pours in the wood, and has historically been used to make wine and whiskey barrels as a result of its superb water-tight features. As a result, white oak flooring has become extremely popular with homeowners prone to constant spills, and is entirely suitable for use in moisture-rich areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways.

Hardness Ratings

Oak in general is one of the most durable hardwood species. Both red and white oak are extremely durable hardwood species, however white oak is known to be slightly harder (and heavier) than red oak. While red oak only features a Janka hardness rating of 1290, white oak is ranked at 1,360; as such, families who know their floor will take an abnormal amount of wear and tear should consider white oak, as it best able to withstand the impact of falling objects, heavy furniture, and spills.

Overall, both red and white oak flooring are extremely durable materials, and can withstand the average wear and tear caused by long term use. Although the two species differ slightly in color and grain patterns, their appearances are extremely similar to the untrained eye. The largest differences between red and white oak lies in their durability and moisture resistance qualities. Because white oak is slightly more durable, and infinitely more water resistant, families with unusually heavy furniture, pets, and young children may want to consider white oak floors due to their elevated hardness rating and natural water resistant qualities. If you have any additional questions about the benefits of either red or white oak, or are ready to explore your options with oak floorboards, don’t hesitate to contact our team of professional flooring representatives.