Oak furniture is a solid choice, literally and figuratively.
Indeed, there are few downsides to buying a piece of oak furniture, be it a table, TV stand, bed frame or cabinet. But it is not all the same. There are different varieties of oak, each with its own characteristics. And there are various styles of furniture. And some is truly solid oak, while others feature an oak veneer.
It can be tricky to navigate it all while looking for that perfect oak table, bed frame, cabinet, coffee table or desk.
One thing is true in all cases: Oak is incredibly durable, one of the most hardy of the hardwoods. A well-crafted piece made from oak could last hundreds of years without falling apart or even sagging, in part because of its strength and hardness but also because it is resistant to insect and fungal attack. The furniture will likely outlast its owner.
At the same time, oak is appealing to look at, with deep colors and attractive grain markings.
That's why it is a favorite among furniture buyers, as well those woodworkers who make the products.
The wood holds up so well over time that it is often salvaged from the floors of old warehouses and factory buildings that are scheduled to be demolished. The wood is "reclaimed," and either reused for residential flooring or fashioned into furniture pieces.
|Oak Amish cabinet|
Even if a piece of oak furniture has been worn down by use, a light sanding, finishing and polishing can usually restore the deep colors and warmth. For antiques, particularly ones with the original finish, it's recommended that you contact a professional before taking on that type of project.
While it's best to have furniture that utilizes oak throughout, even on drawer backs and bottoms, an oak veneer on furniture is one of the best veneers on the market.
For centuries, oak has been used to construct furniture, and now oak furniture comes in a wide variety of styles, designs and finishes that fit most any decor. And no matter of the style, oak is timeless.
Oak furniture styles
The most popular styles:
-- Traditional, which can include antique pieces or newer ones that mimic the vintage look, with intricate details.
-- Rustic, which can be a piece such as a farm table or coffee table that accentuates the natural beauty of the wood, without the polish and finish of more traditional furniture. Sometimes, pieces are "distressed," meaning they show the wear and tear of useage by design.
-- Modern, which is marked by clean lines and smooth finishes, unlike both the traditional and rustic styles.
Not all oak is the same
The oak wood itself comes in numerous varieties.
In North America, there's red oak, which is one of the most popular types for use in furniture. Like the name implies, it takes a sort of red hue, and it has a straight gain marking. White oak also has a straight grain, but this type doesn't allow much water to penetrate it, which makes it better for flooring.
In Europe, there's the English oak, a very strong wood with a straight grain that is often used outdoors, and at one time, used for planking on ships.
Furniture made from Tiger oak is highly desirable because of striped appearance that looks sort of like a tiger's coat, hence the name. Pippy oak can be easily identified by its grain, which looks like the markings of a cat's paws.
Then there is bog oak. It's rare because it comes about only from the wood being submerged naturally in a peat bog for hundreds of years. Because of it rarity and its dark, rich hues, the wood is extremely expensive.
How to care for oak
For all of its durability, oak does need the proper care and maintenance.
Oak furniture that has a new home should be allowed to adjust to the humidity levels of the new location. Some experts say a hardwood polish should be used on the piece every few months and applied in the same direction as the grain.
|Oak dining table|
The selection of a cleaning products is crucial. They should be formulated specially for hardwoods. Generic cleaners could actually damage the oak.
Location in the home is also important. Try to keep the furniture out of direct sunlight, if possible, and away from radiators. And spills should be cleaned immediately by blotting with a moist soft cloth. Wiping the spill might spread it farther.