What is Oak Lumber?

Susan Grindstaff

Oak lumber is wood boards and slats cut from oak trees. Oak is considered one of the most beautiful types of wood, largely because of the grain. In addition, oak is generally very durable, and oak lumber that has been sanded and polished is often used as hardwood flooring. This type of oak is typically cut so it interlocks on the side of the planks, and is typically referred to as tongue and groove.

Oak leaves and bark.
Oak leaves and bark.

Red oak lumber is a type of oak often used for cross ties, fence posts, and construction. It is not considered suitable for exterior construction because of its high concentration of tannin. When tannin comes into contact with water, it sometimes takes on a bluish tint. Red oak is sometimes used for flooring and furniture, but it must be completely sealed and finished to protect it from any type of moisture. The most common source of red oak lumber is the northern red oak tree, which grows in abundance in many North American forests.

The lumber harvested from oak and other hardwood trees is often used to produce hardwood flooring.
The lumber harvested from oak and other hardwood trees is often used to produce hardwood flooring.

White oak is a pale lumber with an intricate grain. It is commonly used for flooring and furniture. It is of a finer texture than many other types of oak lumber, and is very resistant to water. White oak is also often used in the construction of boats and other watercraft. White oak is usually more expensive than red oak.

Oak trees grow in many parts of the world, but are especially plentiful in Canada and the United States. Oak lumber that comes from Canada and northern parts of the US is considered to be of a higher quality than southern oak. This is because the wood itself has more density, thus more durability. On the other hand, southern oak, because it is somewhat softer, typically lends itself better to furniture and other types of intricate woodwork.

Oak is considered one of the easiest types of wood to stain and finish. Unlike many other types of lumber, it typically takes to color very well and usually does not require repeated applications to achieve the desired shade. This is one of the reasons oak is considered such a good choice for hardwood flooring and furniture.

Oak lumber can be purchased at most building supply centers or lumberyards. It is usually available in many different widths, thicknesses and lengths. Often customers can have it custom cut, though this may add a bit to the price. Oak lumber is usually priced by the linear foot.

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