When you think of wood furniture, it’s natural to assume that all types of wood must be suitable for making tables, chairs, and other items. However, this is not always the case. Some woods are more challenging than others to work with, as well as being more expensive than others; they all have varying characteristics. Wood from different trees has differences when it comes to strength, appearance, and cost.
Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of using walnut vs. oak wood for your home’s furniture.
What is Oak?
There are close to 600 species of oak trees, and it is a type of hardwood that commonly grows across the northern hemisphere. Oak trees grow in both evergreen and deciduous varieties, and humans have used them for timber and furniture for many years.
The two common types of oak used to create furniture are white oak and red oak. It can take as long as 150 years for an oak tree to be ready to be harvested and used for construction.
What is Walnut?
Like oak, walnuts is a strong hardwood that is available in different varieties. In certain countries, black walnut is the primary type that is commonly found, which makes it the preferred species of walnut to use for woodworking.
Oak Vs. Walnut Wood Furniture
There are a few differences between oak and walnut wood furniture, as well as some similarities.
The appearance of oak furniture can vary depending on the type of oak used. Red oak is pinkish red to light brown, and its grain pattern is almost in a swirl shape. White oak, on the other hand, varies and shades of yellow, and its grains are similar to that of tiger stripes. Regardless, the grain patterns for oak are very prominent and are a key characteristic of oak furniture; the grain pattern from each tree is unique, so no two pieces are alike.
Walnut has a straighter grain than oak, and the colours of the wood can range from dark brown to Yellow; the colour depends on where the wood is taken from the tree. Walnut has a rich colour and a subtle, tighter grain pattern.
In general, wood furniture tends to be more durable and stronger than furniture crafted from synthetic materials. In comparing walnuts and oak furniture, oak is a harder wood than walnut and stands stronger against abrasions, scratches, gouges, and discoloration. Oak is also very resistant to swelling and warping in different humidity levels and is also more naturally resistant to pests and fungi.
Walnut hardwood is just as strong and durable as oak but easily discolours when exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods of time. When using walnut furniture, where it is placed in the room is important to consider.
Both walnut and oak are very easy to maintain. Oak can easily be waxed twice a year to maintain its shine, and even though its grain pattern allows it to easily disguise normal wear and tear, oak is susceptible to stains left behind by condensation or spills. When attended to right away, staining can be avoided. However, when oak furniture is marked with rings or begins to fade, the finish can easily be sanded down, and the wood can be re-stained to rejuvenate it. Otherwise, regular dusting with a microfiber cloth will remove dust mites and debris.
The maintenance of walnut furniture is not much different, except walnut is softer than oak, so it does need a little extra care, as it can be scratched and gouged much easier. Walnut furniture also needs to be oiled occasionally to retain its lustre.
Out of the two types of wood, oak tends to be the more affordable option because it is more prominently grown. Still, out of all of the wood options for furniture, walnut and oak furniture are the two most expensive types. But, because of their durability, longevity, and easy maintenance, their value is worth it because they need to be replaced much less than other furniture.
Which is Better?
So, out of the two types of wood furniture, which is better? The truth is, neither is better than the other. Because it’s stronger, oak may be a better choice for furniture that is regularly used and has a higher chance of being scratched, while walnut might be better suited for furniture that isn’t moved around as much, such as bed frames and headboards. Really, which one is better is up to the preference of the consumer.