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red oak tree

Red Oak Stair Parts

What is Red Oak?

Red oak (Quercus rubra) stands as one of the iconic hardwoods native to North America. Let’s explore the features of this majestic tree.

Description and Characteristics


  • Heartwood ranges from light to medium brown, often with a reddish cast.
  • Paler sapwood blends into the heartwood without a sharp demarcation.
  • Quartersawn sections exhibit prominent ray fleck patterns.
  • The bark features ridges with shiny stripes down the center, making it easily recognizable.

Growth and Size:

  • Red oak trees typically reach heights of 80 to 115 feet (25–35 meters) with a trunk diameter of 3 to 6 feet (1–2 meters).
  • Exceptional specimens can grow even taller.
  • Open-grown trees develop stouter trunks.


  • Red oak trees can live up to 400 years.
  • Some living examples have been documented to be over 300 years old.

 Wood Properties

Grain and Texture

  • Red oak has a straight grain with a coarse, uneven texture.
  • Its large, open pores are a distinctive feature.
  • The wood is porous enough that air can pass through from one end to the other.

Durability and Rot Resistance

  • Rated as non-durable to perishable with poor insect resistance.
  • When in contact with water, especially in porous growth ring areas, red oak can become discolored and stained.
  • It lacks the decay and rot resistance of white oak.


  • Red oak responds well to hand and machine tools.
  • It steam-bends effectively.
  • Glues, stains, and finishes beautifully.

Common Uses

  • Cabinetry: Red oak is a popular choice for kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
  • Furniture: It’s commonly used in furniture making due to its strength and moderate price.
  • Interior Trim: Red oak adds character to baseboards, moldings, and door frames.
  • Flooring: Its durability makes it suitable for hardwood flooring.
  • Veneer: Red oak is also used for decorative veneer.

Arguably the most recognizable hardwood in the United States, red oak graces homes, furniture, and interiors with its warm tones and distinctive grain. Whether you’re admiring its fall foliage or appreciating its strength, red oak remains a timeless choice for woodworkers.

Red Oak Stair Parts

Red Oak is a popular hardwood that is commonly used for a variety of wood stair parts due to its durability, workability, and attractive appearance. Here are some stair parts that can be made with Red Oak:

  • Handrails: Red Oak provides a sturdy and smooth surface for handrails, which are essential for safety and support.
  • Newels: These are the large posts that anchor the handrail system at the bottom and top of the staircase.
  • Balusters: Also known as spindles, these are the vertical posts that support the handrail.
  • Stair Treads: These are the horizontal parts of the staircase that you step on. Red Oak stair treads are durable and can range in size from 36″ to 60″.
  • Risers: These are the vertical sections between each tread. Red Oak risers can be finished to match the treads for a cohesive look.
  • Winder Treads: These are specialized treads used in turns and transitions in staircases.
  • Stair Fittings: Various fittings like volutes, turnouts, and goosenecks can be crafted from Red Oak to add decorative elements to the staircase.

Red Oak’s natural beauty and strength make it an excellent choice for all these stair parts, providing a classic look that can be finished in a variety of stains to match any home decor.

The Difference Between White Oak vs Red Oak

Key Differences and Best Uses

When it comes to hardwoods used in furniture, flooring, and construction, white oak and red oak are two of the most popular choices. Although they may appear similar at first glance, there are significant differences between the two that can impact their durability, aesthetics, and cost. Let’s explore these differences to help you make informed decisions:

Characteristics of White Oak

Color and Grain Pattern:

  • White oak has a light to medium brown color with a slightly reddish hue.
  • The grain pattern is straight and has a coarse texture.
  • When quarter-sawn, white oak exhibits a unique ray fleck pattern.

Density and Hardness:

  • White oak is dense and heavy, making it harder than red oak.
  • Its Janka hardness rating is 1360, indicating better resistance to wear and tear.

Durability and Rot Resistance:

  • White oak excels in durability and rot resistance.
  • It’s suitable for outdoor applications like decks, boatbuilding, and exterior construction due to its natural oils and tannins that protect against decay and insects.


  • White oak is easy to work with using hand and power tools.
  • It machines well and finishes beautifully, allowing for various finishes.
  • Gluing can be challenging due to its high density and natural oils.

Availability and Cost:

  • Widely available, white oak is less expensive than exotic hardwoods.
  • Sustainable forest management practices ensure its continued availability.

Characteristics of Red Oak

Grain and Color:

  • Red oak has open grains and is more porous than white oak.
  • Its color ranges from light tan to pinkish-brown.


  • Red oak has a Janka hardness rating of 1290, slightly lower than white oak.
  • It’s prone to dents and scratches but still durable.

Indoor Use:

  • Red oak is ideal for indoor furniture due to its easy polishing and staining.
  • The visible grain patterns add character to furniture and flooring.

Outdoor Use:

  • White oak is better suited for outdoor furniture because of its small pores and moisture resistance.
  • Red oak’s open pores collect stains, making it less suitable for outdoor applications.

So let’s enhance the mist important quality of each wood:

White Oak: Versatile, durable, and excellent for outdoor projects.

Red Oak: Affordable, visually striking, and great for indoor furniture and flooring.

Remember to consider your intended use, aesthetic preferences, and budget when choosing between white oak and red oak. Both kinds of wood have their unique qualities, so choose wisely based on your specific needs

Different Red Oak Finishes and Stains

Red Oak is renowned for its beautiful grain patterns and warm tones, making it a popular choice for woodworking projects. The right wood stain can enhance the elegance and character of Red Oak, transforming a simple piece into a stunning masterpiece. Here are some of the different Red Oak finishes and stains that are popular among woodworkers:

  1. Coffee Brown: A rich, warm stain that adds depth and elegance to Red Oak, highlighting its natural grain.
  2. Gold Oak: A light-toned stain that adds a subtle golden hue, enhancing the wood’s natural warmth.
  3. Rosewood Stain: A reddish-brown option that gives Red Oak personality and warmth.
  4. Provincial Stain: Known for its classic and sophisticated appearance.
  5. Nutmeg Shade: Offers a unique, spicy tone to the wood.
  6. Special Walnut: A popular choice for a natural and traditional look.
  7. Golden Pecan: Adds a light, nutty color to the wood, perfect for a subtle enhancement.
  8. Golden Brown: A deeper brown that enriches the Red Oak’s appearance.
  9. Colonial Maple: Ideal for those seeking a lighter, more natural finish.
  10. Spice Brown: A darker stain that provides a rich, inviting tone.
  11. Fruitwood Stain: Offers a balanced, medium tone with warmth.
  12. True Black: For a bold, striking contrast that still showcases the grain.
  13. Red Mahogany: A deep, rich red that emphasizes the wood’s natural hues.
  14. Ebony Stain: Provides a sleek, contemporary look with its dark finish.
  15. English Chestnut: A classic stain that brings out the beauty of the wood’s grain.
  16. Gunstock Stain: A medium shade that’s perfect for a traditional setting.
  17. Jacobean Hue: Offers a timeless, elegant look with its dark tone.
  18. Mosquito Red: A unique, vibrant red that can make a statement.
  19. Sedona Red: A southwestern-inspired tone that’s both warm and bold.
  20. Country White: A light, airy stain that can brighten up the wood and give it a modern feel.

These stains can be applied to various Red Oak stair parts, including treads, risers, handrails, balusters, and newels, to create a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing staircase. It’s important to test the stain on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it provides the desired finish.

At Dutchess Millwork we manufacture custom wood stair parts to order, including red oak stair parts. Call us or get in touch for a quote for your project today.