American red oak (Quercus spp.)

Other names: Northern red oak, Southern red oak

Distribution

Widespread throughout Eastern USA. The oaks are by far the largest species group growing in the Eastern hardwood forests. Red oaks grow more abundantly than the white oaks. The red oak group comprises many species, of which about eight are commercial.

General description

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’ (Autumn).

Working properties

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.Physical properties

a = Quercus rubra (Northern red oak)

b = Quercus falcata (Southern red oak)

Lumber Packs

RED OAK FAS Southern S2S

RED OAK FAS Southern S2S

RED OAK FAS Southern Rough

RED OAK FAS Southern Rough

RED OAK FAS Pink Rough

RED OAK FAS Pink Rough

RED OAK 1C Southern S2S

RED OAK 1C Southern S2S

RED OAK FAS Pink S2S

RED OAK FAS Pink S2S

RED OAK 1C Pink S2S

RED OAK 1C Pink S2S

RED OAK 2C Rough

RED OAK 2C Rough

Red Oak 1C Pink S2S

Red Oak 1C Pink S2S

Durability

Rated slightly to non-resistant to heartwood decay, moderately easy to treat with preservatives.

Availability

USA: Abundant. Most widely used species.
Export: Good availability as lumber and veneer, but less than white oak. Red oak is often classified according to growing regions and marketed as Northern red oak, and Southern red oak.

Main uses

Construction, furniture, flooring, architectural interiors, internal joinery and mouldings, doors, kitchen cabinets, paneling, 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 the wood they order is suited to their specific needs.

© 2002 American Hardwood Export Council