Know the Source of your Red Oak!

Among the plethora of North American hardwood species, Red Oak is one of the most commonly used and plentiful hardwoods in the industry. It also remains the most exported North American hardwood lumber species. It can be found in a variety of products you see and use every day, furniture, cabinets, interior decorative items, flooring, stairs, and mouldings. However, not all Red Oak lumber is the same, and understanding the sourcing regions can give you a better idea of what to expect.

Red Oak is typically found in the eastern half of North America (United States & Canada). Regardless of where it is sourced, Red Oak is known for its straight grain, coarse texture, and is heaviness in contrast to most hardwood species. But while there are similarities, there are a few subtle differences between the Red Oaks found throughout such a large growing region that can make one option more attractive than the other, depending on your specific use.RedOak

Northern Red Oak. Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) is from the Quercus rubra family and is typically understood to have grown in the Northern and Appalachian regions stretching from Southern Canada to Tennessee.  Red Oak from this area typically has an attractive light pink/red color heartwood, tighter growth rings, and greater overall color consistency. For manufactures that covet those “special” Red Oak characteristics for their specific use, Northern Red Oak is the popular choice.

An excellent example of the prized properties of Northern Red Oak can be seen in our 8/4 Prime Red Oak from our Titusville, PA facility.

Southern Red Oak. Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata) 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. Lumber sourced from this region typically has a darker, pleasing reddish-brown coloration. Due to the longer growing season down south, the timber that is sawn often produces lumber that has above average lengths and widths. This makes it a great fit for many of our millwork and moulding customers that require these longer lengths and widths for their production.  

Why do we mention all this? Simply because many of our customers prefer one type of Red Oak versus another.  Some of that is based on their manufacturing needs. For others, it could be desiring a certain aesthetic appeal. This is where the few subtle differences between Northern and Southern Red Oak can really make a difference to manufactures.

The key is to work with a supplier that understands your specific needs and can provide you with the high-quality Red Oak lumber that works best for you.

If you are in the market for Red Oak please let us know. We typically carry a wide availability of Red Oak lumber in thicknesses ranging from 4/4 through 8/4.  We generally have some 10/4 and thicker Red Oak stock in inventory in our system. Also, for customers that require it, we can even surface (S2S) and SLR2E upon request. And in these times of wide short lumber supply, we recommend reaching out to your regular Baillie contact for the most current and up-to-date availability.

Call us today. Let us be your trusted hardwood advisor and the supplier that works for your best interests!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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