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How Hard is Red Oak Flooring?

Close up photo of a solid red oak flooring texture.

Red oak is a popular choice of solid hardwood flooring with homeowners, builders, and designers in the United States. The hardness of the flooring is one quality that makes it durable, yet workable when considering it for nearly any space in a home.

The easy availability of red oak, the beauty of the hardwood, and the character of this type of flooring are some reasons that people choose to install red oak flooring.  

How does red oak take stain? Can I use red oak anywhere in my home? How hard is red oak flooring? These are common questions that homeowners are likely to have about red oak when considering it as the ideal flooring choice. 

What is Red Oak?  

Red oak, scientific name Quercus rubra, is a type of oak that grows primarily in the Northeastern U.S. and southeastern part of Canada. The trees grow up to 115 feet tall, with the average height of a red oak reaching 75 feet to 80 feet.  

Do you want to know how to tell a red oak floor from a white oak floor? White oak has more of an olive undertone in an untreated state. Red oak has pink or red undertones. The color of red oak ranges from a light brown to a deep pink or reddish-brown shade.   

I like to have solid red oak flooring. How do you know the difference between solid red oak and flooring that is not solid red oak? The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) sets the formal definition of real wood as “The hard fibrous material that forms from the main substance of the trunk or branches and beneath the bark of a tree.”   

The association includes a definition of wood flooring as a “flooring product that contains real wood as the top-most, wearable surface of the floor.” Keep this information in mind as you shop for red oak flooring for your home.

Make sure that the “wood” is real red oak and does not indicate that it is an “engineered” red oak flooring product or a “composite engineered” red oak flooring product.   

How Hard is Red Oak Flooring?

A house interior with newly installed red oak floor.

The hardness of wood used in flooring is likely important for home builders, designers, and homeowners who want a floor to last for many years. You have the option to install the red oak flooring in a single room or throughout the entire home for the look of timeless elegance and beauty.

The Janka Hardness Scale is the standard for measuring the relative hardness of different types of wood.   

Gabriel Janka, an Austrian wood researcher, created the scale named after him. The hardness scale, standardized in 1922, provides a reliable means of testing wood density for use in industrial applications. The test measures the amount of force that it takes to embed a 0.444-inch (11.28mm) diameter steel ball into a wood plank to a depth of half the diameter of the steel ball.

Knowing the Janka ranking helps consumers to know the hardness of wood. I want to know if a particular wood is a right choice for my floors. I do not want balsa wood, for example, as my wood flooring choice, since balsa has the lowest ranking on the Janka Scale.  

Hardwood lumber comes from trees that have a Janka scale ranking of more than 1000 N. The higher the ranking, the harder the particular type of hardwood. Where does red oak rank on the Janka hardness scale? What is the significance of the ranking on the scale? 

Red oak has a Janka ranking of 1260. It is harder than several other hardwoods, including Peruvian walnut, English oak, and teak. What is the significance of having this knowledge? Tyler Brown Woodworking explains that an individual may choose to purchase red oak flooring over pine flooring because red oak flooring “is much harder and will withstand more abuse over the long term.” 

Designing Ideas indicates that red oak has a “very good dimensional stability,” with a score of 8.6.

Related: How Hard is White Oak Flooring?

Benefits of Red Oak Flooring

Close up photo of a newly factory finish red oak wood.

The Janka reading hardness is not the only benefit of choosing red oak flooring for your home. Red oak flooring offers several benefits. 

The Perfect Balance 

Red oak flooring features the perfect balance between affordability and durability. The fact that it is abundant likely helps with red oak remaining an affordable flooring option.  

A red oak floor lasts for generations. You do not have to worry about it losing its natural beauty with normal wear and tear. It is durable for single people, couples, large families, and those who have pets.  

Gorgeous Grain of Red Oak Flooring 

The gorgeous grain of red oak is one reason it is such a popular choice for flooring. The different subspecies of red oak means that there is a red flooring option with the perfect color and grain for your flooring needs.  

Choose a prime grade or a rustic grade if you want to see the knots and patterns in the red oak flooring grain. 

Easy to Stain and Finish

One popular benefit of red oak is the fact that it is easy to finish and stain. Customize your red oak flooring with the stain of your choice to achieve the look and feel that you want for the flooring in your home. 

Do you want to wake up to the natural beauty of your red oak flooring? Skip the staining and opt for sealing the floors. The natural grain and natural beauty of the red oak flooring are sure to impress your friends and family. It is also a great option if you want to have a minimalist finish or decor for your home.

Related: Can You Stain Oak Floor Grey? How?

Rely on Professionals

A renovation of a wooden floor with plywood and new red oak wooden boards.

Are you the DIY type? Skip the DIY temptation when installing your red oak flooring. Do you have the knowledge and the expertise to install flooring in your new build or your existing home? Think about whether you want to maintain the beauty of the red oak flooring or if you want your DIY efforts to show after you install the flooring. 

Wood naturally expands, and it contracts with moisture. Do you know how to acclimate red oak or how long to acclimate it? You have to let wood flooring adjust to the environment where you plan to install it. The adjustment or conditioning process is the acclimation process.  

Do not abide by a source that claims that acclimation takes a specific period. The acclimation process has more to do with the moisture content and less to do with a maximum amount of time for the wood to acclimate to the environment where you plan to install the red oak flooring. 

Professional flooring installers, contractors, and home builders know that measuring moisture content takes properly calibrated tools that measure the moisture content of the subfloor and the red oak flooring planks. Several factors affect acclimation time, including season, climate, variation in humidity, and temperature.  

Avoid the urge to install the flooring yourself. Do not risk minimizing the life of your flooring or ruining your beautiful red oak flooring.  

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