Everything To Know About Red Oak

Everything To Know About Red Oak

Red oak is a tree that is native to North America. The wood is strong, durable, and resistant to decay. It has a rich reddish-brown color and a distinctive grain pattern.

Red oak trees are found throughout the eastern United States and Canada. They are often seen along rivers or streams, where they provide shade and shelter for wildlife.

Magnificent red oak tree

But what can you build with Red oak? Is it easy to work with? What are the downsides to using red oak?

These questions can race through your mind, and no matter what you do, you just cannot find the answers that you need. 

Well, no more! We have put together this handy guide to red oak, which tells you everything you need to know, so keep reading to find out more. 

What Is Red Oak? 

Red Oak is a hardwood that is harvested in North America. Red oak trees are deciduous, which means that they grow slowly and lose their leaves once a year.

This makes the wood of the red oak tree very hard and dense. Red oak trees are very large and grow to over 100 feet tall. Red oak is one of the hardest commercial hardwoods available. 

Red oak is usually available in two types: Northern Red oak and Southern Red oak.

This is because the growing conditions in the South cause the trees to grow faster due to the higher levels of moisture in the soil and the longer growing season.

This makes the wood less dense and alters its appearance, giving it a much more grainy texture. 

Certain types of red oak trees produce acorns- edible and nutritious nuts that contain high levels of vitamin E. Acorn meal can be fed to chickens and turkeys as well as pigs, so acorns come in very handy to farmers. 

Acorns are harvested by hand when they fall off the trees during autumn. They are then dried in the sun before being stored for later use.

Acorns are an important food source for many wild animals as well as livestock. Squirrels eat them, while birds like blue jays and chickadees feed on them.

Types Of Red Oak

There are several types of red oak that you can choose from. Each type has its unique characteristics. Here are some of the most common varieties:

American Black Walnut 

This is the most commonly used variety of red oak. It’s the same as the European black walnut, but it grows much larger.

Ponderosa Pine 

This is another popular variety of red oak. Its name comes from the fact that it was once grown primarily around the area of Ponderosa, California.

Post Oak

This is a rarer variety of red oak that grows on moist sites with clay loam. Only a few plantations still produce this type of wood. Post oak trees have crooked trunks that grow up to 90 feet tall. Their leaves are heart-shaped.

Blackjack Oak

This type of oak grows on dry soils with sandy loam. The trees have straight trunks that rise up to 60 feet tall. Their leaves are oval-shaped and green in color.

What Is Red Oak Used For?

Red oak is a very popular type of wood and is used for lots of different things. Here are some of the most common uses of red oak:

  • Furniture – the warm rich color of red oak makes it an excellent choice for making furniture like dining tables, coffee tables, and bookcases. It is also used to construct shelving and cabinets in kitchens. 
  • Outdoor structures – red oak is great for making outdoor structures like decks and fences. There are many different styles of red oak, so you’ll be able to find something that suits your style perfectly.
  • Construction – Red oak is a popular type of lumber to use for construction because it is readily available and is very strong. Red oak has been used to build houses as well as other kinds of structures. 
  • Flooring – the durability of red oak also makes it ideal for hardwood flooring as it can withstand heavy usage. 

 Processing Red Oak 

Red oak has to be prepared in lumber yards before it is sold as lumber. The logs are graded and then cut into various sizes.

Once the logs are cut, they must have a chance for the air to circulate them to prepare the wood for use. 

Heartwood- the wood from the inner rings of the trunk – makes the best lumber, and red oak is dominated by heartwood rather than sapwood.

However, the oak has to be dried out very slowly to prevent it from splitting as the wood has a high moisture content.

It takes around a month to dry red oak in a dry kiln. It can be a little faster if you air dry it, but this is a complex process. 

Once the lumber is dried, it can be regraded and then shipped for selling. It is often sold to manufacturers who will use it to make furniture, doors, flooring or prepare it for construction use. 

How To Look After A Red Oak Tree

If you have a red oak tree on your property, you should try to preserve it, as it will support a lot of the local wildlife. 

The good news is that red oak trees require very little maintenance and can survive in a range of soil types.

As long as the soil is neutral or acidic then the tree should do very well. Otherwise, the leaves will turn yellow as a result of iron deficiency. 

If the tree is young then you might need to water it to ensure that it grows.

If the tree is mature, it may not need additional water, but if you live in a dry area, you could supplement the rainfall with a good watering of the roots now and again. 

The ecosystem should do its job and take care of the rest. Birds will come and feed on the pests to stop them from destroying the tree. However, if you spot fungal infections, then remove the affected branches.


Red oak trees are magnificent, and the wood they produce has a lovely appearance. It can be used for lots of different projects. 


Diarmuid Brock

I'm a carpenter by day and an amateur woodworker by night. I don't believe in limitations, and I love to help others. I'm here to answer your questions and make your life simpler. I craft and create with all-natural, reclaimed, and repurposed materials.

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