AMERICAN RED OAK INFO
1. What is red oak?
Red oak is a true Quercus, in the same group of species as European oak and American white oak. It is similar in most respects, but has some differences in characteristics and properties.
2. How does red oak differ from other oaks?
Red oak resembles white oak and European oak in appearance, but its heartwood usually has a pinkish tinge. The vast geographical area over which red oak grows gives rise to greater variation in its structure and quality than is found in white oak. The timber is generally coarser in texture than the other two major oaks with smaller rays resulting in a less prominent silver grain figure so characteristic of oaks in general. These features of red oak enable a greater variety of colour and grain variations to be sorted thus allowing more diverse options with which designers can work.
The working properties of red oak (machining, nailing, screwing and finishing) are similar to those of white oak, however, for gluing, red oak is superior.
For structural applications, red oak is superior to European oak in strength and stiffness and is stronger in bending than white oak.
Due to its open pored structure, red oak is more easily penetrated with preservatives than either white oak or European oak.
3. How sustainable is red oak?
The area of hardwood forests in the US has risen consistently over the past 50 years. Published data (2000 RPA Assessment) shows that the area of hardwood and mixed hardwood/softwood timberlands increased by 18% between 1953 and 1997.
In the period 1953 to 2002, the inventory of hardwoods standing in the US forests has doubled as harvested levels have remained well below the level of forest growth. As a consequence, the stock of red oak has similarly increased and now stands at 35% of the hardwood forests of the eastern United states, making this timber one of the most sustainable hardwoods in the world.
Red oak is not native to other parts of the world but is unique to North America and is not commercially available from any other source.
4. What is red oak best used for?
Construction (both structural and non-load bearing), furniture, flooring, architectural interiors, internal joinery and mouldings, doors, kitchen cabinets, panelling, coffins and caskets.
5. Can red oak be used externally?
The natural durability classification of red oak, as listed in EN 350-2, is class 4 – slightly durable for heartwood and class 5 – not durable for the sapwood. Based on this classification red oak is deemed to possess insufficient natural durability for external applications. However, in practice it can be used externally if the correct design, detailing and construction techniques have been adopted, along with an effective preservative pre-treatment.
6. Can red oak be treated with preservative chemicals?
Red oak can be treated and takes preservative chemicals more easily than does white oak.
Red oak absorbs more treatment application than other oaks.