Is Red Oak A Good Choice For Outdoor Furniture?

There’s a lot to love about Red Oak wood. It’s sturdy, beautiful, and resistant to wear and tear.

Which is why it’s a popular choice for interior furniture, molding, and cabinets. And it’s warm color palette can also add character to any indoor space.

But, can Red Oak be used for outdoor furniture and decking?

Well, in this post, you’ll discover which wood is the most durable for outdoor furniture. You’ll also find out why Red Oak isn’t anywhere near as weatherproof as White Oak.

And we reveal whether or not Red Oak is really suitable for outdoor furniture.

is red oak wood good for outdoor furniture

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What Is The Most Durable Wood For Outdoor Furniture?

Teak wood is a rot-resistant, bug-proof, tough wood that is ideal for exterior furniture and decking.

It’s even tougher than Cedar wood (which is another popular exterior wood). Yet, what makes Teak wood extra special is its natural water-resistance.

This particular lumber is saturated with its own wood preserving tree oil. In fact its grain is so full of natural oil, that penetrating wood stains struggle to sink into Teak.

And this is because Teak’s tree oil prevents anything, (including water), from absorbing into Teak. Which in turn prevents warping, wood rot and bug attacks.

So, if you can afford this tropical hardwood, then Teak is easily your best choice for outdoor furniture.

Related Post: Can You Apply Lemon Oil On A Teak Wood Surface?

What About Red Oak? Is It OK For Outdoor Garden Sets?

Red Oak is not durable because it will happily soak up water, moisture and even vapor.

Now, just to be clear, Red Oak is a tough hard timber. And it’s only a touch softer than White Oak. However, its toughness means next-to-nothing outside, if Red Oak cannot stave fight decay and insects.

In short, Red Oak isn’t weather-resistant, and it has next-to-no durability when you compare it to White Oak.

Related Post: Beginners Guide To Reducing Oak Grain Contrast (Explained)

And Why Is White Oak More Rot Resistant Than Red Oak?

White Oak (also known as European Oak) has an unusual characteristic to it. White Oak has unique cell growths sealing over its pores, while Red Oak doesn’t.

These White Oak cell growths are called Tyloses. And they tend to form on plants during times of severe drought. They act as a way of protecting the plant, by preventing moisture from escaping wood pores.

And this prevents White Oak from absorbing water as easily as its Red Oak wood peer.

Related Post: Can You Really Use Untreated Oak For Raised Beds?

So What Is Red Oak Wood Even Good For?

Red Oak is great for interior wood items, such as moldings, doors, tables, and chairs.

Of course, this is so long as you avoid placing Red Oak in high humidity areas (i.e. Kitchen or Bathroom).

Will Red Oak Readily Absorb Water? Does Red Oak Rot?

Compared to White Oak? Absolutely it will.

Red Oak doesn’t have any natural defense mechanism to prevent, (or slow down the rate of), water absorption.

And without any water-resisting defense, this hardwood will become damp. And if wood gets damp, wood rot can take hold.

You see, wood is a very hygroscopic material. Which is a fancy way of saying that wood absorbs water like a sponge. Even a mist of vapor can get drawn into it.

This is why wood finishing is such a key final step in most woodworking projects. Otherwise, non-durable lumbers such as Red Oak, would have zero protection from water damage.

Is Red Oak As Strong As White Oak?

Well, according to their comparative Janka hardness ratings, White Oak is a little bit tougher than Red Oak.

The Janka rating reflects the compressional strength of a piece of wood, and it is measured using pounds of force (lbf). So, the Janka rating is an easy way to compare the toughness of different types of wood.

The higher the Janka rating, then the more pounds of force it takes to crack a piece of wood. And the more pounds of force it takes to crack a piece of wood, then the harder the wood.

White Oak wood has a Janka rating of 1360 lbf. Which means it takes 1360 pounds of force to crack the surface of this Oak subspecies. While Red Oak has a Janka rating of 1290 lbf.

But, this marginal difference is barely noticeable when it comes to how well either one handles scratches and scrapes.

What Is Compressional Strength? The compressional strength of wood measures how well a piece of wood can hold up before collapsing under compressional stress.

To Sum Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). Red Oak is a tough hardwood that is great for making interior furniture and moldings.
  • 2). But this wood is not durable. It is very susceptible to wood rot and decay.
  • 3). Do not choose Red Oak for outdoor furniture. Instead, one of the best choice woods for outdoor furniture is Teak wood.


Aloui, F., et al. “Durability of European oak (Quercus petraea and Quercus robur) against white rot fungi (Coriolus versicolor): relations with phenol extractives.” Holz als Roh-und Werkstoff 62.4 (2004): 286-290.

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