Not all Red Oak is the Same

If you have been around the hardwood lumber industry for any amount of time you have probably already learned that not all red oak is the same.

Some people categorize or label red oak as northern red oak and southern red oak and they truly are different. Northern red oak is from the Quercus rubra family and is typically found in the forests stretching from Southern Canada to Tennessee. Southern red oak, sometimes called pin oak, Spanish oak or scarlet oak is from the Quercus falcate family and found in the southeastern states spanning mostly from Mississippi to South Carolina.

Red Oak Northern hardwood lumberMany of our customers prefer one type of red oak versus the other because of what their manufacturing priorities or needs are when using the lumber. For example, Northern Red Oak, because of the shorter growing season and fewer native species variants, is known to have tighter growth rings and better color consistency. So for applications that require those special red oak characteristics Northern is their preferred choice. In addition, the size and quality of the logs also enable sawmills to cut thicker stock which means you are more likely to see Northern Red Oak used when thicker lumber is required such as doors.

On the other hand, Southern Red Oak, because of its longer growing season, can typically be attractive to manufacturers that require larger average lengths and widths. Many of our moulding and millwork customers have requested southern red oak material for this very reason.

Red Oak hardwood lumber SouthernBoth types of red oak can be of high quality. The point here is that you should work with a hardwood supplier who strives to understand your needs and applications and provides you the lumber that would work best for you. Let us know if our team of lumber traders would be able to help you with any of your red oak needs. They understand the difference between the red oak species and when they work best!

Tony C.
The Baillie Group
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