American Red Oak Hardwood

American Red Oak

American Red Oak (Quercus rubra) is a hardwood species with a light to medium brown heartwood, often with a reddish hue. When quartersawn, the wood displays prominent ray fleck patterns. The grain is straight, with a coarse and uneven texture. The pores are very large and open. Red Oak is distinct from White Oak, which tends to have a slightly more olive-coloured heartwood.

  • Spec:
  • FAQ's:
  • Uses:
  • Links:

Material Type:

Also Called:
Northern Red Oak, Canadian Red Oak

Durability Notes:
Red Oak non-durable to perishable, with poor insect resistance. Red Oaks do not have the level of decay and rot resistance that White Oaks have. Not ideal for external applications, due to considerable movement

The drying and seasoning of American Red Oak is dependant on a number of factors; the speed in which it is processed after felling and logging, the method of drying and the specific kilns or location (if air dried). Generally the care taken by those processing the wood will have an impact on its drying and seasoning. As an overview; American Red Oak - The wood dries slowly and is fairly challenging to season. Please note that all wood is liable to move when in service plus there can be dimensional change. The extent of this will depend on; the stability of the species itself, the conditions it is exposed to, the coating, decoration and protection. You will find more information about the suitability of this wood, for any proposed application, by using our interactive system and the filters shown.

Produces good results with hand and machine tools. Has tolerably high shrinkage values, resulting in mediocre dimensional stability, especially in flat sawn boards. Can react with iron (particularly when wet) and cause staining and discoloration. Responds well to steam-bending. Glues, stains and finishes well.

Typical Uses:
Hard, strong, and moderately priced, Red Oak presents an exceptional value to woodworkers—which explains why it is so widely used in cabinet and furniture making. Also used in construction work, panelling and coffins.

Spiritual Properties:
'Mighty oaks from little acorns grow' goes the quote. This tree inspires us to be strong in body, mind and spirit. It is a sacred and revered tree representing endurance, power, protection and authority.

Moisture Content:
8-12% KD

Possible Health Risks:
Asthma, Sneezing, irritation to eyes and nose.

Wood Worker's Thoughts:
Slightly softer to work than it's white cousin (American White Oak) and finishes well. Pink/red in colour compared with white oak.

Commonly asked questions about American Red Oak Wood

Is Red Oak a hardwood or a softwood? Red Oak is a hardwood. It is the same for; is American Red Oak hardwood or softwood? - American Red Oak is a hardwood.

Most groups/families of species share the same characteristics but this normally relates to their life as plants. Individual species do not always share the same characteristics as their relatives, in terms of the wood. Many factors influence how we use the wood and what we use it for, including where it grows, how it is forested, how it seasons/dries, etc. The answers to the following common questions, therefore relate to this particular species/wood and not the Oak family as a whole. Even more specific – our answers relate to the wood (as we know it) in its form as a useable resource.

What colour is American Red Oak? American Red Oak can be described as brown, light brown, red

Is American Red Oak good for outdoor use? or is American Red Oak good for exterior use? American Red Oak is most suited for interior/interior use. American Red Oak can be used as an exterior/external timber (without treatment).

Whether the wood is naturally durable or not we would still recommend that it is decorated and/or coated with a suitable product to provide protection and/or maintain its appearance. This even applies when using the wood internally as, even subtle, changes in temperature or humidity will affect the wood. This will depend on the application/purpose of the wood and the user’s desired appearance. We also recommend that a recoating, care and maintenance programme is adhered to, for the life of an exterior wood. Wood cannot rot if it is kept dry – coatings and decoration can provide this protection. All of that said there are many durable timbers that are often left to weather naturally and will last for many years untreated/coated – movement and visual changes will occur but this is sometimes the desired effect. All wood is hygroscopic (it 'wants' to be in tune with its environment) it will therefore take on water from moisture in the air (or when directly exposed to or submerged in water) and ‘release it’ when dry or exposed to heat. This, inevitably, results in movement and dimensional change. For more about moisture in wood please click here - Moisture in wood

Are you in the timber industry?

Would you like help growing your business and have access to free industry tools and eBooks? Then please visit:


Any One Wood - The Wood Databse