Is Oak An Expensive Wood and Why?

There are different factors that determine the price of oak wood. In general, products made of oak wood have a very large range of prices. Oak furniture is very expensive, but oak flooring is one of the cheapest hardwood flooring available.

Oak wood is expensive because it is a hardwood. Hardwoods are more dense and durable but grow much slower than softwood which makes them more expensive.

Although on a grand scale of all existing woods, oak is on the more expensive side because it is classified as a hardwood, oak is one of the cheapest hardwoods.

The price of Oak wood ranges between $1505 to $2520/cubic meter ($43 to $72 per cubic foot). This is excluding VAT, and not kiln dried which adds another 10% on top of that.

In terms of the value for money that you get, the price is relatively fair. There is a very large supply of oak, therefore even though it grows very slowly, at the moment the world has enough of it to satisfy all of the many people that want to buy oak.

What makes oak wood expensive

One of the top factors that makes oak wood, and many other hardwoods expensive is the rate of growth.

An oak wood typically takes 40-55 years to reach a stage where it produces acorns. At this stage, the tree grows at a much slower rate, and it is often cut down to use for wood.

This is considerably longer than many other kinds of wood take to grow. In addition to that, oak trees don’t all grow to a large size, which means you need more land and more care for the same amount of wood.

Due to its density, oak wood is not very easy to cut. With factors such as sharper tools and risk of irreparable damage oak wood also takes much longer to cut down.

Oak wood is also high in tannin, which makes it resistant to pests and fungal infections. This makes many woodworkers prefer oak to some other kinds of wood raising demand.

Why is there a high demand for oak?

If you ever studied economics you will know that the higher the demand the higher the price gets. This is very much the case with oak wood.

Oak wood is perfect for making furniture, in fact, it is one the best and most commonly used wood for tables, chairs, and all other necessary furniture around the house.

The reason that oak is so commonly used in furniture is for two simple reasons:

  • Oak is one of the cheapest hardwoods
  • Oak is durable because of its high density.

As mentioned before what makes oak so expensive that unlike spruce, pine, and redwood, oak is a hardwood and not a softwood. With that said it is not so expensive for a hardwood as other woods such as walnut or mahogany.

The density of hardwood is shown on the diagram below:

Oak (Hardwood)Density (lb/ft3): 37-56

Oak can reach one of the highest possible densities than any other hardwood can reach, only second to Hickory, which is a hardwood that can reach 58 lb/ft3.

What Are The Disadvantages of Oak Wood

Oak wood is very heavy which is good because it means it’s dense and more durable, but also it’s bad because it’s… heavy.

Apart from that, there are a few other things you should know about oak when planning to buy it in any form. Whether it is in the form of flooring, expensive furniture, or wood carving.

Oak wood can sometimes react badly with oily finishes if it is surrounded by high tannin content, moisture, or cold for a long period of time. This means that while most likely you are going to be fine with furniture inside your house, there may be some issues in the future if you leave oak wood outside.

The last disadvantage of oak wood is that it is a little pricy and can be more expensive than you would want it to be. However, there are some alternatives to oak wood that you may want to consider

Alternative To Oak Wood

There are many alternatives to oak wood, but the closest wood to oak is most likely maple wood.

Hard maple is similar to oak in many ways. It is slightly cheaper than oak wood making it a more affordable choice for projects that don’t require as much durability, water-resistance and overall solidness, but you still want them to look aesthetically pleasing.

While oak makes your interior/exterior look very rich and more “luxury” maple is light and less noticable.

Most of the qualities that maple does not have that oak wood does come from the fact that oak is much denser than maple. So much that it is even visible.

It is also important to note that oak wood projects can last you as long as a lifetime due to its high durability

Maple is a much lighter wood, which has its advantages mostly as it has a better value for its price. Even though it is a fair competitor and a great alternative for oak wood, it is a slight downgrade.

How To Identify Real Oak Wood

Oak wood has a few unique traits which are good to keep in mind so that you are confident that whatever it is that you are buying is real oak wood and not a darker version of a pinetree.

Oak lumber is easily identifiable by the yellow lines that appear in a circular form inside the wood. This can be seen when the wood is cut in blocks such as in the picture above. Take a look at exactly what those lines are in this short 58-second video.

The next point in making sure that you are holding a project made out of oak wood is determening its weight. Oak wood is heavy, it is dense and very sturdy. You can feel all these traits my simply picking up the sample of the wood.

Lastly, to be sure in the origin of your wood, see if it is stained or if the color is natural. The easiest way to do that is to sandpaper a sample of the wood, this will reveal the true color of the wood and you can be sure the dark color is oak and not paint.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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