Oak, American white

American white oak is the trade name for a variety of hardwood species from the Quercus genus. The timber is imported from eastern USA and used for a variety of applications, including furniture, flooring and joinery.

Other Names

Northern White Oak, Southern White Oak, True White Oak, White Oak, Overcup Oak, Swamp Chestnut Oak, Chestnut Oak (Q. prinus, Q. montana), Overcup Oak (Q. lyrata), Swamp Chestnut Oak (Q. michauxii)

Botanical Name

Quercus alba

Common Form
Sawn
Species Type

American white oak is a hardwood common throughout the eastern United States. The name 'white oak' encompasses numerous species, eight of which are commercially available as timber. Very similar in appearance and colour to the European oak, American white oak has light-coloured sapwood and a light to dark brown heartwood. White oak is mostly straight grained with a medium to coarse texture, with longer rays and more figure than American red oak. It has large distinctive growth rings, and some medullary rays may be present.

American white oak is used for a wide range of applications, including shipping and boat building, flooring, architectural joinery, exterior joinery, railways sleepers and timber bridges due to its strength and resistance to decay.  It is also an excellent timber for high-grade furniture, interior woodwork and paneling. Because of its impermeability, the timber is suitable for vats and casks holding liquids such as wine and spirits.

American white oak is a hard, heavy wood, and has low stiffness and good overall strength, making it increasingly popular as a structural timber. It also has very good steam bending properties. White oak machines well and is easy to glue, nail and screw. It readily accepts stains and polishes to a good finish. The heartwood is susceptible to lyctid borer attack and to termites.

American white oak is imported into Australia and is readily available through specialist wood dealers.  

 

Shrinkage

Very Low Low Medium High Very High

Tangential :

6.60%

Radial :

3.20%

Unit Movement Tangential:

0.37%

Unit Movement Radial:

0.18%

Strength Group

Very High

High

Reasonably High

Medium High

Medium

Reasonably Low

Low

Very Low

Unseasoned:

S1

S2

S3

S4

S5

S6

S7

S8

Seasoned:

SD1

SD2

SD3

SD4

SD5

SD6

SD7

SD8

Stress Grade

Structural
No. 1
Structural
No. 2
Structural
No. 3
Structural
No. 4
Structural
No. 5

Unseasoned:

Seasoned:

F14

F11

F8

F7

F5

Density per Standard

Seasoned:

750kg/m3

Unseasoned:

985kg/m3

Joint Group

Very High

High

Reasonably High

Medium

Low

Very Low

Unseasoned:

J1

J2

J3

J4

J5

J6

Seasoned:

JD1

JD2

JD3

JD4

JD5

JD6

Colour

  White, yellow, pale straw to light brown Pink to pink brown Light to dark red Brown, chocolate, mottled or streaky
   

Mechanical Properties

Modulus of Rupture - Unseasoned:

57

Modulus of Rupture - Seasoned:

105

Modulus of Elasticity - Unseasoned:

8.6

Modulus of Elasticity - Seasoned:

12.3

Maximum Crushing Strength - Unseasoned:

25

Maximum Crushing Strength - Seasoned:

51

Impact - Unseasoned:

Impact - Seasoned:

Toughness - Unseasoned:

High - 25 Nm and above

Toughness - Seasoned:

High - 25 Nm and above

Hardness - Unseasoned:

4.7

Hardness - Seasoned:

6

Durability

Low Moderate Reasonably High High
(0 - 5 yrs) (5 - 15 yrs) (15 - 25 yrs) (more than 25 yrs)

In-Ground:

(0 - 7 yrs) (7 - 15 yrs) (15 - 40 yrs) (More than 40 yrs)

Above ground:

(0 - 20 yrs, usually < 5) (21 - 40 yrs) (41 - 64 yrs) (More than 60 yrs)

Marine Borer Resistance:

Lyctid Borer Susceptibility:

Susceptible

Lyctid Borer Susceptibility - Other:

Termite Resistance:

Not Resistant

Fire Properties

1 - non-combustible 2 - reasonably non-combustible 3 - slightly combustible 4 - combustible

Fire Properties Group
Number:

Average Specific Extinction Area:

<250

Bushfire Resistance:

BAL 12.5 and 19 - All AS 3959 Required Applications
Appearance

The heartwood of American white oak is pale yellow-brown to mid-brown, sometimes with a pink tinge. The sapwood is light coloured. It is mostly straight grained with a medium to coarse texture, and with longer rays and more figure than red oak. It has large distinctive growth rings and some medullary rays may be present.

Common Applications

In the United States American white oak is used for a wide variety of purposes, including structural, exterior and interior applications, and in the making of vats for spirits and wine. Due to its interesting and prominent grain pattern and consistency of colour throughout the range of subspecies marketed as American white oak, it is a popular species for flooring, and in Australia is mostly for this purpose and for joinery and furniture.

Workability

American white oak is a hard and heavy wood, with low stiffness and medium crushing and bending strength. It also has extremely good steam bending properties. American white oak is easy to machine, nail, glue and screw. It stains easily and can take a wide variety of colours. It is a slow-drying wood, so care needs to be taken to avoid checking. Also, given its high shrinkage rate, under variable moisture conditions it is susceptible to some movement.

Origin of timber
North America
Eastern Canada
Readily Available
NSW
American White Oak is readily available from specialist timber dealers throughout Australia.
Source of timber
Native Forest
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Joinery

Timber joinery offers a classic, stylish touch to any interior or exterior space.
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Mouldings

Mouldings are extremely versatile and durable, enhancing the aesthetics of any interior and functioning as the icing on the cake for designs with a focus on beauty and splendour.
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Rails and Balustrades, Interior

With its natural beauty and inherent strength, timber is a popular material choice for internal balustrades. Commonly built from treated softwoods and durable hardwoods, interior balustrades and handrails are typically finished with a clear lacquer to generate the most natural result.
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Stairs, Interior

Timber is the material of choice for designers seeking internal staircases of strength, beauty and durability.
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Flooring

The warmth, strength and natural beauty of timber flooring is enduringly popular in a wide variety of domestic, commercial and industrial applications.

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