1. White oak looks more modern and contemporary
White oak has less graining than red oak so it looks more modern and less traditional. This is because the growth rings are closer together, so the graining is smoother and has a more uniform flow. White oak tends to have more mineral streaks, so it’s a bit more linear in it’s pattern again leading to more up to date style.
2. White oak is a bit harder and more durable
White oak is bit harder then red oak on the janka hardness scale (white oak is 1360 vs red oak is 1290). This makes it a bit more resilient when it comes to denting. Note that this does not have an impact on scratching…that is determined by the type of polyurethane or finish.
3. White oak flooring is more water resistant than red oak
White oak is a closed grain wood and many of the pores are plugged with tyloses which makes it more resistant to water and decay. This is why this species is used more often in boat building and as well as front door jambs/saddles as these areas are more exposed to water and nature’s elements.Because white oak is more impervious to water, it’s an excellent choice for kitchens, powder rooms and entry areas which are more exposed to water and moisture.
4. White oak hardwood is better for gray, white and dark stain colors. You just have more shade options.
Gray, as well as white wash stains have become and more and more popular. And, these stain colors come out significantly better on white oak than on red oak. Red oak has reddish/pinkish undertones, so when you do a light gray or white wash, it often doesn’t look right as the wood comes out pinkish. Also the gray looks better on the more subtle graining in white oak. white oak doesn’t have the pink undertone as red oak does, it provides more flexibility on stain colors/blends. You can go from very dark to very light or anywhere in between.
5. It’s easy to stain white oak
Like red oak, white oak is very easy to sand, stain and refinish. White oak is a tad more challenging to refinish as it’s slightly harder, but this difference is insignificant to a professional refinisher. The staining process is the same for both species.
7. The character grade white oak just has more character and looks more rustic
One of the other trends is to go for a rustic look. Some people love this and some people hate this style. But, if you’re trying to go for a more farmhouse or distressed look, the character grade wide plank wood just looks better on white oak. It just looks more natural. White oak has a blander and more neutral palette, and less graining, so your eye focuses more on the knotting and other natural imperfections of the wood (rather than the graining) and it’s easier to get a browner and less red look.