Birch Wood Floors vs. Oak Floors

Hardwood flooring is one of the most popular varieties of flooring for homes. Hardwood flooring provides a warm, welcoming and comfortable environment, and the quality and color of the wood can add depth and richness to any interior style. Birch hardwood flooring and oak hardwood flooring are two of the most popular varieties of wood floors. When trying to decide which one to use in your home, you should examine the pros and cons of each variety.

White kitchen with hardwood floor
credit: Luxy Images/Luxy/GettyImages
Hardwood flooring is one of the most popular varieties of flooring for homes.

Birch Wood Flooring

Birch wood flooring is one of the most popular and most common hardwood flooring species. The birch species can be divided into two subspecies that are most often used for flooring, the Yellow Birch and the Red Birch. Both have a 1290 rating on the Janka Hardness scale.

Despite its name, Red Birch tends to have a golden color, with slight red undertones. This wood is taken from the heart of the birch tree. The Yellow Birch, on the other hand, is drawn from the sapwood of the birch tree and has a creamy color, more off-white than yellow.

Birch wood is popular because it has very little grain visibility and uniformity that leaves it as a warm and light-colored backdrop. It's durable while still feeling soft underfoot, and gives a nurturing, airy feel to any room or space where it's used. Each board has a slight variation, which keeps the tones from feeling too flat.

Oak Wood Flooring

Birch versus oak is a popular rivalry in the wood species space. Similar to birch, oak wood flooring has two popular varieties, White Oak and Red Oak. Red Oak has a very visible grain pattern. Its undertones are reddish, but the overall hue of the wood is a light creamy shade of pink and reddish-brown. With a Janka hardness rating of 1290, Red Oak is widely considered to be the most popular of all domestic flooring species.

White Oak is also immensely popular. Even harder than Red Oak, White oak has a Janka hardness rating of 1360. The colors available in White Oak range tremendously, from grayish undertones with light blonde color to more golden brown shades. White Oak is popular because of the rich grain pattern found in the wood.

White Oak is extremely durable and stable. It is used not only for flooring, but also boat building and wine barrel. It is one of the most airtight woods; however, all wood, no matter how durable, will be affected by moisture.

Birch vs Oak

Whether you are considering wide plank birch flooring, narrow planks or some other wood configuration, deciding between birch and oak wood flooring will come down to several factors, including cost, personal preference, and your overall aesthetic style. Many people like a neutral-colored wood because it makes spaces feel larger, it reflects light beautifully, and it allows the furnishings in the room to provide the most color, leaving the floors as a backdrop to showcase interesting pieces and styles.

Birch is popular because it is one of the most durable woods you can buy for a price that is fairly commensurate with other, less sturdy woods. There is a variation that suits all decorating tastes, and you can get birch wood with a richness and vibrancy that will help to bring your space to life. Birch's color variations are darker than a lot of other light wood, making it unique among wood flooring species.

Oak hardwood flooring is generally cheaper than birch, but lacks the same richness in variation within the wood. Other than that, the wood species are very similar. Birch may have deeper and richer color variations, and there is a slight difference in hardness, but beyond that, the quality, strength and versatility of the two kinds of wood species are very comparable.


Ashley Friedman

Ashley Friedman

Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience working in the home, design and interiors space.