Is Oak a Softwood?

Image of oak wood, is oak a softwood?Oak is a reputable type of wood and remains one of the most used for different furniture types. As a woodworker, most people come to my store, asking for structures created using oak wood more than other wood types. If you ask me why I’d say it’s because you can rely on Oakwood and it will never disappoint. However, is oak a softwood?

Oak is a Hardwood. It is classified as a deciduous (loose leaves in the Winter) angiosperm (flowering plant with fruit) tree. Its deciduous nature makes it classified as ‘hardwood.’ On the contrary, softwoods are classified as gymnosperms (cone-bearing) and commonly known as ‘evergreens’ or non-deciduous. 

White oak is the best for furniture-making because it has a more attractive figure than its red counterpart. Additionally, the white oak further provides resistance against moisture, and you can use it on outdoor furniture.

Types of Oak Wood

Oak has rich tones coupled with a steel-like structure that makes it a favorite material for many carpenters, DIYers, professionals, and beginners in woodworking. Different oak wood types come with a variety of patterns plus grains that highlight the wood. Here are some of the types of Oakwood that you’ll likely come across out there:

Red Oak

The red oak tree is the producer of the most common oak wood types in the market. It has straight grains and a coarse texture, and it is common in the North American region. The wood bears a pinkish-red shade and is a popular material among woodworkers for making furniture, shelving, and many other home projects.

White Oak

Like its red oak “sister,” the white oak is also available in North America in large numbers. It has straight grains with a medium-to-coarse texture, and it is very popular when it comes to construction and flooring. Additionally, you will realize that white oak has longer grain rays compared to the red oak. It allows for little penetration of water.

English/European Oak

European oak, alternatively English oak, has a reputation for its steel-like toughness that it brings to different structures. Like it is in the case with other oaks, this type has coarse and straight grains. This wood is pale brown and is excellent for ship construction and other outdoor woodworking projects.

Other Types of Oakwood

Other types of oak wood are named based on the appearance of their grain. Tiger oak, for instance, has a brown stripy hue. The Pippy oak has a grain with patterns similar to the paws of a cat, while burr oak is reputable because of its density.

Bog oak is a rare type of oak wood and is naturally treated by soaking inside peat bogs. It has a vibrant dark color and rarity that makes it a costly wood.

The Difference Between Softwood and Hardwood

Naturally, softwood and hardwood are differentiated using their reproduction rather and not their end appearance or attributes. Overall, hardwoods are from deciduous trees; these trees lose their leaves yearly. Softwood, on the other hand, comes from conifer, which is evergreen. The trees that produce hardwoods grow slowly and have a very high density.


Image of oak tree but is oak a softwood?Hardwood is versatile, and you can use it in virtually all environments, both interior and exterior spaces. This wood type does an excellent job when used on furniture, flooring, musical instruments, commercial building construction, and boatbuilding. 

Hardwood gives you the ultimate beauty, and it is available in many combinations of specifications and colors. Due to its condensed as well as complex structure, the hardwoods guarantee you superior strength and longevity. The most readily available hardwoods include Oak, Sapele, Teak, Iroko, and Meranti. These trees grow at a slower rate and take a lot of time to dry, especially if you are looking to stain your structures.

Hardwoods have high resilience to different destructive environmental elements than its softwood counterparts; therefore, these woods are best for woodworking projects requiring maximum durability. 

The hardwoods like beech, maple and walnut are best for bespoke joinery projects, wood crafts, wooden flooring as well as beautiful veneers. They are preferred for these tasks as they have particular aesthetic properties, such as color and the grain.


Softwood has a reputation as a versatile store and durable wood. This type of wood is available worldwide and comes with very many uses in both industrial and home environments.

Among areas that you can use softwoods includes furniture and flooring and the creation of wooden decks. You can easily manipulate softwoods to suit your different projects. They are easy to find and develop, which makes it available at affordable prices. Additionally, these woods are flexible, light, and with less density compared to the hardwoods.

Softwoods are used majorly on tasks such as interior moldings, creation of windows, framing in construction projects, as well as generation of sheet goods, for instance, plywood and or fibreboard.

Advantages of Oak Wood

Oak comes with many advantages that will suit your woodworking project, whether on the interior or exterior environment. Some of the advantages are as mentioned below:

  • Durability: The Oakwood guarantees you a great endurance to your structure when used in outdoor and indoor spaces. It has a high resistance to wrapping.
  • Natural Beauty: Oakwood has a stunning natural grain structure that gives it a beautifully unique appearance.
  • Seamless Finish: This wood type offers a naturally looking bright and smooth finish.
  • Heavy Furniture: If you are looking to manufacture heavy grade wooden materials, you should consider using oak wood.
  • Good Availability: If you compare oak and other types of hardwoods, you will find that this wood type is readily available even at your local lumber store.
  • Affordability: If you factor in the many years an oak wood can serve you, you will find it an affordable option.
  • Interaction with other finishes: An oak wood adheres properly with other wood finishes such as varnish, which gives your structure a lasting beauty.
  • Mold into Shapes: This wood type gives you the flexibility to mold it into different shapes depending on the project.
  • Great Wood for doors and windows: Oakwood is the ultimate choice for the manufacturing of Windows, Doors, and even kitchen cabinets.
  • High Resistance to Environmental Elements: This wood type comes with very high resistance against elements such as moisture and any other form of corrosion.

Disadvantages of Oak Wood

  • One notable disadvantage of oak is that it is heavy which can be hard to lift especially if you are working with bulky pieces
  • This wood is also hard to cut


If you are looking for a versatile and reliable hardwood for your woodworking project, you should consider using this type of wood. Even in its natural state, oak is a thing of beauty, and you don’t have to use finishes for protection necessarily. Much as this wood type is readily available, people still ask me this question…

Is Oak a Softwood?

No, oak is not a softwood but a hard one; it belongs to a class of plants called angiosperm, which makes it hard and suitable for different projects, whether external or internal. So if you are looking to purchase a softwood for your project, please don’t buy oak!

Having ready this blog post, you might be having a question or a suggestion to help improve this content, if that’s the case, kindly share it in the comments section below.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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