Oak and pine are relatively distinct varieties of wood used in making furniture and flooring. Along with maple, they are the most common woods used in commercial furniture construction. Both are used to make household furniture such as chairs, cupboards, tables and bookshelves, and both are sturdy and finish well. However, oak and pine differ greatly in terms of color, price, hardness, weight, durability and style.
Knock on the wood. Oak is a hard wood and is heavier and more wear-resistant than its soft wood competitor, thus it will have a more solid, denser sound. Pine, while heavy in its own right, is notably lighter than oak, yet very stiff, enabling it to better resist shock.
Compare the prices of both types of wood. Oak trees grow much more slowly than pine trees, and it is this investment in time that makes oak more expensive.
Examine the color of the wood. Oak generally has a dark, reddish color and spans a wider array of styles, from contemporary furniture to traditional country designs. Pine varies in color from creamy white to yellow, and is more suited to rustic and traditional styles.
Visit a furniture store and examine the different showcases. Oak is used mainly for making traditional, long-lasting furniture such as counters, islands and pianos. Its high strength and wear-resistance also make it ideal for flooring and ship construction. Pine is more commonly used to make light, relatively portable furniture such as chairs, tables, cupboards and beds.
Cynthia Chen has been writing for various online publications since 2002. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Science in marketing from the University of Connecticut.