Why Are Red Oak Wood Floors so Popular?

When shopping for new wood flooring, you’ll probably encounter a wide variety of wood types, some that you haven’t heard of before. Though each may offer something unique, if you’re looking for a straightforward and reliable wood floor, it’s hard to beat oak. Most hardwood flooring products on the market today are constructed of oak wood, and for good reason. Not only is oak one of the most common tree types in the US, but it also grows quickly, and its lumber offers good strength. These all make it a great candidate for a flooring material. What many shoppers don’t know is that, in the flooring industry, “oak” is a general term that actually includes two different species: red oak and white oak. Each of these species offers all the desirable qualities of their larger genus, with some slight differences. Here’s a quick rundown of what you should know about red oak flooring.

What is Red Oak Flooring?

Red oak is named, as you might guess, for the color of its wood. You can expect red oak flooring to contain a slightly pinkish appearance overall, with pops of darker red tones in the grain pattern. The pink tone is subtle enough that a darker stain will easily disguise it. But if you’re particularly fond of the color, red oak flooring’s unique aesthetic is best highlighted by a very light stain or even just a clear protective polyurethane topcoat. Another unique visual element of red oak flooring is the wood’s grain pattern, which has a less consistent flow than white oak flooring. Expect to see more swirls and variations in the grain of a red oak floor.

When it comes to durability, red oak flooring sets the industry standard, literally. Its score of 1290 on the Janka scale—which measures the relative hardness of wood flooring materials—is used as the median industry score. Now, that doesn’t mean that red oak floors are the toughest wood floors available, just that they represent the ideal level of flooring durability for the majority of customers. Red oak flooring is strong enough to stand up to regular traffic over the long term, but not so hard that it’s exceedingly expensive to produce, or difficult to stain and shape. Its wide applicability is what has made red oak flooring one of the most popular wood flooring materials on the market.