If you’re in the market for new home furniture, you’re probably facing the old oak vs pine grain dilemma, seeing as they’re the two most popular types of timber used in making furniture.
What are the reasons behind such recommendations, though? How does the grain of pinewood differ from that of oak wood? Stick around to find out!
The Short Answer
Oakwood is characterised by its straight grain and slightly coarse texture. In contrast, pinewood is characterised by its wavy or striped grain and fine-to-rough texture, based on the species.
Choosing Between Oak and Pine Based on Grain
Simply put, the grain is the way by which wood-cell fibres are arranged. Many furniture qualities can be determined by knowing the grain of a wood type, from its texture to its strength.
Let’s take a look at how oak and pine differ in terms of grain pattern and see how the differences influence their appearance and strength.
Before we talk about oak wood’s grain pattern, it’s important to point out that over 600 species of wood fall under the ‘oak’ category. And even though all oak species vary in terms of colour and shade, their grain patterns are more or less the same.
Oakwood varieties are characterised by their straight grain pattern and their texture of medium coarseness. Colour-wise, oak species range from light brown to golden-medium brown. Two of the most popular species of oak wood are Quercus alba and Quercus robur, or simply, American White Oak and European Oak, respectively.
For centuries, oak wood has been utilised in a wide range of crafts and rackets, making it one of the oldest types of timber used by man. In fact, it was historically used for barrels and ships.
To this day, oak wood’s timeless appeal and remarkable durability continue to astonish, which is why it’s still used in the production of furniture. Moreover, oak is so versatile that it fits perfectly with both modern and traditional home layouts.
Like oak wood, there are several pine species worldwide, over 126 species, to be explicit. That said, you should expect each species to have its own unique shade and colour.
To generalize, the majority of pinewood varieties are on the lighter side when it comes to colour and shade. This makes pine more versatile than oak wood as far as finishing options, which, in turn, makes it compatible with more colour schemes and furniture styles.
Pine varieties can easily be identified by looking at their sapwood and heartwood, which tend to be yellow-white and reddish-yellow, respectively. One of the most common pine wood species is Pinus sylvestris, known simply as Scots Pine.
Grain-wise, pine has a wavy or striped grain, which makes it easy to differentiate from oak. And as far as texture, it all boils down to the species. Some pine species have a fine texture, while others are quite rough.
Also, note that pine belongs to the softwoods family, which come from evergreen conifer trees, while oak belongs to the family of hardwoods, which are obtained from deciduous trees that lose their leaves yearly.
Hardwoods grow slower than softwoods, which makes them denser, heavier, and more durable And due to their more extended growth period, hardwoods tend to be more expensive than softwoods.
Note, also, that both oak and pine are grown natively in the UK.
Most Common Uses of Oak and Pine Varieties
Even though oak and pine are both used to make furniture, they’re each synonymous with different types of furniture.
Oakwood is typically utilised in projects intended to stand the test of time, which comes as no surprise considering its outstanding durability and timeless look. It’s also perfect for projects intended to handle a lot of use.
As far as furniture, oak is used to make tables, beds, desks, chairs, dressers, doors, and more. Other uses of oak wood include decking, flooring, cladding, skirting, and framing.
As the less durable of the two, pine is utilised for projects that have a shorter lifespan or that are intended for short-term use. An excellent example would be children’s furniture.
Pinewood varieties are also great for budget-friendly beds, chairs, tables, and desks, as they’re more affordable than oak wood varieties.
The Difference in Cost Between Oak and Pine
Both oak and pine are by no means rare; they’re both readily available all around the world. So, why is one more expensive than the other?
Oak is more expensive than pine because it takes longer for oak trees to mature, around 30-40 years, to be exact. Pine trees, on the other hand, can develop in approximately 25 years.
The longer growth period of oak trees makes for denser, more resilient wood, which is another reason why oak is more expensive than pine.
Despite its steep price, oak does provide a ton of value for the money, considering it can last a lifetime with proper care.
To conclude, oak and pine are two completely different types of wood. The former is a hardwood with a straight grain and a slightly coarse texture, whereas the latter is a softwood with a wavy or striped grain and a fine-to-rough texture.
Generally speaking, oak varieties are sturdier and more hardwearing than pine varieties, making them ideal for long-term projects. On the other hand, pine is lighter and more affordable, making it perfect for projects intended for short-term use. You can also read about our oak vs ash debate right here.