All About Oak

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All About Oak

Published 21/11/2016

Oak is one of the hardest and most durable timbers on the planet, so much so that even its Latin name Quercus robur, translates as ‘strength’. Due to its versatility, resilience and robustness it is an extremely popular material in design and construction. Here, we take a look at the characteristics, benefits and uses of oak and how it can be used to enhance any interior.

Where does oak come from?
The characteristics of oak
What is the difference between red and white oak?
The many uses for oak
What are the alternatives to solid oak?
Fourteen fascinating facts about oak

Where does oak come from?

Oak is native to North America, however, oak trees are now found in many different locations across the globe, including most of Europe, the Himalayas, areas of South America and China. There are over 400 different species of oak tree - most oak trees are deciduous, however, a couple of species are evergreen. Oak trees are notoriously large in size, reaching up to around 100 feet in height and around 9 feet in width. The two main types of oak are red oak and white oak; the leaves of a red oak feature pointed lobes, whereas the white oak leaves have rounded lobes.

What is the difference between white oak and red oak

White Oak

  • White oak has a high resistance to rot. It is suitable for building boats, doors, outdoor furniture and vessels designed to hold water.
  • White oak is denser and less porous than red oak.
  • White oak has a grain that resembles a tiger-like stripe with yellow coloured flecks and rays.

Red oak

  • Red oak is only suitable for indoor use and is a popular choice for furniture.
  • Red oak isn’t as heavy as white oak.
  • Red oak has an open grain, making it more porous than white oak.
  • The colour of red oak ranges from light brown to a pinkish red. It generally has a swirling pattern that resembles the movement of water

The many uses for oak

Oak lends itself to numerous different uses, in particular:

  • heavy duty furniture, including bed frames, tables, cabinets
  • architectural beams and timber framed buildings
  • doors
  • fencing and stakes
  • flooring
  • panelling in prestigious historical buildings
  • ship building
  • barrels to contain wine or spirits
  • tanning leather
  • smoking foods, including meats, cheeses and fish

What are the alternatives to solid oak?

Whilst solid oak is a good choice for many different uses, in some instances it may be beneficial to look at alternative materials that have the same look and feel as solid oak.

Doors are a great example of this, as they often have to meet specific performance requirements to meet Building Regulations , especially in the case of fire doors. This is where the new range of Factory Glazed Premium Oak doors from Premdor presents an ideal alternative to solid oak. These doors are veneered with real American White oak, however, they contain a solid fire resistant core, meaning that from the outside they look exactly like solid oak, whilst providing thirty minutes’ resistance in the event of a fire.

Aside from their fire door properties, these doors present numerous additional benefits, such as:

  • Unlike some glazed fire doors, this range has recently been independently assessed by Exova Warringtonfire as a complete glazed unit to BS 476: Part 22, resulting in up-to-date and compliant fire certification for Part B specifications
  • Doors are factory glazed with 7mm thick clear laminated safety and fire-rated glass for added assurance
  • The engineered core within oak veneer doors makes them less prone to splitting and warping when compared to solid oak doors.
  • The construction of these doors ensures that they are extremely robust and hard wearing.
  • Veneered oak is a more sustainable option than solid oak. It is only the surface of the door that contains oak (in the form of a veneer), which means that the door uses far less of the raw material.
  • These doors also come as a non-fire rated option, so a property can have matching oak doors throughout the whole house, with fire doors only positioned where needed.