Oak : European vs American Oak

The European and American timbers differ from each other and they are both used for different kinds of work. So, it is important to know which one will be suitable for your project in order to get the most out of your timber

External Work

This is really where European Oak excels compared to its American cousin. European Oak is commonly used for exterior cladding, decking and landscaping. When used externally kiln dried Oak does need treating to help seal the wood and prevent moisture from getting in, this helps to minimize warping.

American Oak can be used outdoors, however, because it has wider cells than the European, Moisture is more likely to get in so the timber warps more easily. The timber also tends to discolour and turn black when outside (although, all timbers will eventually turn silvery grey as they are bleached by sunlight unless treated).

Interior Work

European Oak is suitable for interior work and is often used for furniture, flooring and work tops. The timber can be worked well and polished to grant a great finish to your product. The timber wouldn’t need to be treated for moisture movement except in rooms with a high moisture content in the air, such as the bathroom.

American Oak is also highly used internally and takes nails and screws well. The American timber is highly sought after for cabinet and furniture making and although it is similar in appearance to the European it does have a wider colour variation, ranging from a pale yellow-brown to a pale reddish-brown. American oak can also be used for trimmings like skirting, architrave and sills.

Constructional Work

All Oak is heavily used in construction and, not so coincidentally, European tends to be used in Europe and American in America. Both green and air dried Oak is suitable for construction and it is normal for the green Oak to split and check as it dries, and air dried Oak will already have cracks and surface checking because it has been left to dry.

Cracks and splits have no bearing on the structural integrity of Oak and if anything as Oak dries in place it becomes more stable and it closes around any fixings (when using metal fixing’s, it’s important to use stainless steel).