The sapwood of red oak is white to light brown and the heartwood is a pinkish reddish brown. The wood is similar in general appearance to white oak, but with a slightly less pronounced figure due to the smaller rays. The wood is mostly straight grained, with a coarse texture. The red oak tree gets its name because of the color of the leaves in the fall.
Red oak machines well. Nailing and screwing is good, although pre-boring is recommended, and it can be stained and polished to a good finish. It dries slowly, with a tendency to split and warp. It has a high shrinkage and can be susceptible to movement in performance.
The wood is hard and heavy, with medium bending strength and stiffness and high crushing strength. It is very good for steam bending. Southern red oak has a more rapid growth than Northern red oak and tends to be harder and heavier.
Rated slightly to non-resistant to heartwood decay, moderately easy to treat with preservatives.
Construction, furniture, flooring, architectural interiors, internal joinery and mouldings, doors, kitchen cabinets, panelling, coffins and caskets. Not suitable for tight cooperage. Red oak can vary in color, texture, characteristics and properties according to the growing region. It is therefore recommended that users and specifiers work closely with their suppliers to make sure they wood they order is suited to their specific needs.