Oak Wood: Properties, Characteristics & Uses

oak wood properties characteristics and uses
Oak is a very popular hardwood used in a variety of projects, ranging from flooring to furniture, cabinetry, crafting, joinery, paneling, and decking. Though the use of oak timber is common since pre-colonial times, the wood is equally great for building modern pieces of stylish furniture. Because of its high durability, hardness and great looks, it is a first choice timber for woodworkers around the world. In this article, you can find in detail about the basic oak wood properties, characteristics and uses.

CameroonTimberExportSarl is a top supplier of premium quality oak wood logs and timber and provides delivery worldwide. Contact us to buy the best timber at an affordable price.

Oak Wood Properties & Characteristics

It is one of the most versatile, beautiful and useful woods. There are over 60 varieties of Oak, each with its own distinct color and hue. Of all types of oak, red and white are the most popular. It is a hardwood since it comes from a dicot or leafy tree. Hardwoods are generally stronger/harder than softwoods, but that may not always be the case.

Let’s dive deep into the different properties of oak wood.

Origin & Source

The wood comes from oak trees, which have numerous varieties. Even red oak can be further categorised into northern red, southern red oak tree, and other varieties based on the source tree location. Similarly, white oak can come from a variety of trees, including Quercus alba, Arizona white, or swamp white. These trees can grow up to 100 feet in height and have a diameter of around 50-inches.


Since it has many varieties, the colors may also vary significantly. While white oak has a beige-brownish hue, red oak has a darker, rosy color. Sometimes, two pieces from the same tree can have different colors based on where it has been extracted from. The sapwood is usually lighter than the heartwood, but not always.

The color may also darken with age, but the change is usually too subtle to notice.

Grain Texture

Another important property of oak wood is its grain texture, the grain pattern of this wood type is quite unique, which makes it rather easier to recognise. The wood has straight grain and an uneven texture, which can be identified easily. Specific species have specific grain texture. For instance, white oak has closed pores, which make the wood resistant to water. Red oak, on the other hand, has open pores. Another thing that is easy to notice in the grain of oak is the presence of dotted lines across the board. These are present in both red & white oak.

Strength & Resistance

Based on hardness, it is considered one of the strongest woods. White oak has a Janka rating of 1,360 while red oak has 1,290 Janka hardness. The higher the Janka rating, the harder the wood is. In terms of hardness, oak is superior to even walnut and cherry. More hardness means the furniture and items last longer and are sturdier.

Water resistance is another one of the major properties of oak wood, especially white oak which has decent resistance to water and damage because of its closed pores and higher Janka rating. The wood is quite durable and highly resistant to wear and tear insects, and fungal infestations. Oak wood furniture and construction have a fairly long life and will not go to landfill anytime soon, which also makes it eco-friendly. It can also be used as outdoor furniture because of its decent resistance to water and sunlight.


Oak is not only easy to recognise but also it’s quite easy to work with, which is another reason why woodworkers around the world prefer this timber type for furniture making. It stains, finishes, glues, and polishes well. The wood works easily with cutting tools and other machinery. It can be easily cut and split and is easy to use as a veneer. Because of its straight grain, nailing and screwing oak is also easy.

Because of high tannic acid content, it can sometimes react with iron, causing discoloration.

However, oak is rather heavy because of its high density.

Oak Wood Properties in a Nutshell

oak wood

  • Common Name(s): White Oak
  • Scientific Name: Quercus alba
  • Distribution: All over the world
  • Tree Size: Up to 100 ft tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter
  • Average Dried Weight: 47 lbs/ft3 (755 kg/m3)
  • Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .60, .75
  • Janka Hardness: 1,350 lbf (5,990 N)
  • Modulus of Rupture: 14,830 lbf/in2 (102.3 MPa)
  • Elastic Modulus: 1,762,000 lbf/in2 (12.15 GPa)
  • Crushing Strength: 7,370 lbf/in2 (50.8 MPa)
  • Shrinkage:Radial: 5.6%, Tangential: 10.5%, Volumetric: 16.3%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Oak Wood Uses

Oak wood properties such as its strength, durability, and workability, makes it a common choice of timber for furniture-making as well as for flooring and other construction work. Basically, it can be used in a wide range of applications, ranging from basic work such as home construction to specialty projects like crafting and making kitchen appliances. Since white oak has decent resistance to water and moisture, it is also commonly used for making wine barrels and boats.

Other common uses of oak wood/timber include flooring, cabinetry, interior trim, boatbuilding, wine barrels, and veneering.

Where to Buy Solid Oak Timber Online

We at CameroonTimberExportSarl supply our sustainably-grown local and the best quality oak timber wood to dealers and individual woodworkers worldwide. We take pride in being one of the leading suppliers of oak wood in Central Africa. Our top-quality wood products combined with our top-notch service are made to fit your particular project needs and preferences.

If you are looking to buy top quality, authentic, and sustainable oak timber wood, contact us to shop now. For all your enquiries about the wood quality, availability, species and price, you can email us at info@cameroontimberexport.com or Whatsapp +237 683 37 5541.