Is Red Oak Good For Outdoor Use?

We like oak wood and use it occasionally in our woodworking projects. 

Oak wood is a popular choice for many different types of projects because of its strength, durability, and beauty. Here are some good uses for oak wood:

Key Points:

  • It’s important to understand the differences between red oak and white oak when considering their uses for outdoor projects.
  • Red oak is more porous, less dense, and less resistant to rot than white oak.
  • Those qualities of red oak make it a bad choice for outdoor use, and sealing it will get you only so far.
  • Furniture: Oak is a popular choice for furniture because it is strong and durable. It can be used to make a variety of furniture pieces, including tables, chairs, beds, and cabinets.
  • Flooring: Oak flooring is a classic and elegant choice. It is hard-wearing and easy to maintain.
  • Cabinetry: Oak is a good choice for cabinetry because it is strong and durable. It can be used to make a variety of cabinetry pieces, including kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, and office furniture.
  • Barrels: Oak barrels are used to age wine, whiskey, and other alcoholic beverages. The wood imparts a unique flavor to the beverage.
  • Architectural elements: Oak can be used for a variety of architectural elements, such as beams, columns, and doors. It is a strong and durable wood that can withstand the elements.
  • Woodturning: Oak is a good choice for woodturning because it is strong and easy to work with. It can be turned into a variety of objects, such as bowls, vases, and sculptures.

These are just a few of the many good uses for oak wood. With its strength, durability, and beauty, oak is a versatile wood that can be used for a variety of projects.

What about outdoor use, though?  Is oak a good choice for outdoor furniture, for instance?

What Woods Are Good Choices For Outdoor Use?

You probably have an idea already about woods that make excellent choices for outdoor use.  Some are better than others, but the list would certainly include:

  • Teak is a tropical hardwood that is naturally resistant to water, rot, and insects. It is also very strong and durable. Teak is a good choice for outdoor furniture, decking, and other applications where a long-lasting and high-quality wood is desired.
  • Ipe is another tropical hardwood that is very resistant to the elements. It is also very hard and dense, making it a good choice for high-traffic areas. Ipe is often used for decking, fencing, and other outdoor structures.
  • Redwood is a softwood that is naturally resistant to rot and decay. It is also very dimensionally stable, meaning that it does not shrink or swell much with changes in moisture content. Redwood is a good choice for outdoor furniture, decking, and siding.
  • Cedar is another softwood that is naturally resistant to rot and decay. It has a pleasant cedar scent and is also very durable. Cedar is a good choice for outdoor furniture, decking, and fencing.
  • Pressure-treated pine is a softwood that has been treated with chemicals to make it more resistant to rot and decay. It is a less expensive option than some of the other woods on this list, but it is still a good choice for outdoor applications.

These are just a few of the many woods that are good choices for outdoor use. The best wood for your project will depend on your specific needs and budget.

Why Is Teak A Good Choice For Outdoor Use?

Water on Teak Wood
  • Naturally resistant to water, rot, and insects. Teak contains natural oils that make it resistant to water and decay. This means that teak furniture can be left outdoors year-round without the need for special treatment.
  • Very strong and durable. Teak is a very strong and durable wood. It can withstand heavy use and is not prone to warping or splitting.
  • Beautiful and elegant. Teak has a rich, golden brown color that ages beautifully over time. It is also a very versatile wood that can be used in a variety of styles.
  • Low-maintenance. Teak furniture requires very little maintenance. A simple cleaning with soap and water will keep it looking its best.

Overall, teak is a great choice for outdoor use because it is naturally resistant to the elements, strong and durable, beautiful, and low-maintenance.

Here are some additional benefits of using teak for outdoor furniture:

  • It is recyclable and sustainable. Teak is a renewable resource that can be harvested without harming the environment.
  • It has a pleasant aroma. Teak furniture has a natural, pleasant aroma that can make your outdoor space more inviting.
  • It is a good investment. Teak furniture can last for many years, making it a good value for your money.

But what about oak?  It depends on which oak you are considering, actually.  You might be considering oak for an outdoor project but don’t know whether you should use white oak or red oak.  We can help.

Which Is Better For Outdoor Use – Red Oak or White Oak?

Red and White Oak Boards

Although each is oak, and oak is a popular wood for many uses, there are differences, and those differences determine which is better for that outdoor project you’re considering.

Red oak and white oak are two of the most popular types of oak wood in the United States. They are both strong, durable, and beautiful woods, but they have some key differences.

Color

Red oak is typically a lighter color than white oak, with a reddish or pinkish hue. White oak is a darker brown color with a more golden or honeyed tone.

Grain

Red oak has a more open grain than white oak. This means that the individual wood cells are more visible, which gives red oak a more rustic appearance. White oak has a tighter grain, which gives it a more refined look.

Density

Red oak is slightly less dense than white oak. This means that red oak is slightly softer and more susceptible to dents and scratches. White oak is harder and more durable.

Rot resistance

For resistance to rot and decay, white oak is the better choice. This is because white oak contains tannins, which are natural chemicals that help to protect the wood from moisture damage. Red oak does not contain as many tannins, so it is more susceptible to rot and decay.

Uses

Both red oak and white oak are used for a variety of purposes, including indoor furniture, flooring, and cabinetry. Red oak is often used for furniture because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to work with. White oak is often used for flooring and cabinetry because it is more durable and has a more refined look.

Which is better?

White Oak Board

The best type of oak for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you are looking for a wood that is strong, durable, and easy to work with, then red oak is a good choice. If you are looking for a wood that is more resistant to rot and decay, then white oak is a better choice.

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between red oak and white oak:

FeatureRed OakWhite Oak
ColorLighter, reddish or pinkish hueDarker brown, golden or honeyed tone
GrainOpen grainTighter, more closed grain
DensitySlightly less denseSlightly denser
Rot resistanceLess resistantMore resistant
UsesFurniture, flooring, cabinetryFlooring, cabinetry, exterior applications
Best forProjects where cost and ease of working are importantProjects where durability and resistance to rot are important

So, Red Oak For Outdoor Use?

Red oak is not a good choice for outdoor use. It has poor resistance to water, rot, or insects. This means that red oak outdoor furniture will need to be treated with a sealant or finish to protect it from the elements. Even with proper treatment, red oak is not as durable as other woods that are better suited for outdoor use.

Here are some of the reasons why red oak is not a good choice for outdoor use:

  • No natural resistance to water. Red oak has open pores that allow water to penetrate the wood. This can lead to rot and decay, especially if the wood is not properly sealed.
  • Not naturally resistant to insects. Red oak is a softwood that is susceptible to insect damage. This is especially true in areas with high insect populations.
  • Not as durable as other woods. Red oak is not as durable as some other woods that are better suited for outdoor use. This means that it is more likely to warp, crack, or split over time.

If you are looking for a good type of wood for outdoor use, there are many better options than red oak. As we mentioned earlier, some types of wood that are excellent choices for outdoor use go with teak, Ipe, redwood, cedar, or pressure-treated pine.

These woods all have high water resistance, as well as natural resistance to rot and insects, and they are more durable than red oak. We chose pressure-treated pine rated for ground contact and Thompson’s Water Seal and expect to get at least 20 years from it.

Steps To Follow If You Still Want Red Oak For Outdoor Use

If you are set on using red oak for outdoor use, there are a few things you can do to help extend its lifespan:

  • First, make sure to seal the wood with a good quality sealant or finish to protect the wood from the elements.
  • Second, choose a location for your red oak furniture that is protected from the elements as much as possible. This means avoiding areas that are prone to flooding, high winds, or heavy rain.
  • Finally, inspect your red oak furniture regularly for signs of damage. If you see any signs of rot, decay, or insect damage, take steps to repair the damage as soon as possible.

We know that red oak is less expensive than white oak, as well as less expensive than most of the other woods we recommend for outdoor use (except pressure-treated pine).  But, if you have to replace red oak outdoor furniture in just a few years vs 20+ years from those other woods, is it really less expensive?

We often say the right tool for the right task, and in this case, we will say the right wood for the right purpose.  Red oak is not your best choice, not the right wood, for outdoor use.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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