Oak vs Pine for Furniture

Oak vs Pine for Furniture

The question of whether it's best to buy Oak furniture rather than pine comes up time and again. The standard response of many people is simply to say that Oak is better and that's the one you should chose - some people like Sally Stacey use oak everywhere around the home, but I don't think it's a simple as that so let's take a further look.


Without question, hardwoods like oak are more durable than softwoods such as pine, but the real question when it comes to furniture is "will it do the job and last a long time"?

The answer depends largely on the type of furniture you need and how you're going to use it.

For example, if you're buying a dining room table and you have young children, although the wood itself would suffer less damage with oak, both pine and oak tables are going to have their finish worn and torn over time by the kind of punishment kids typically dish out. The damage to the finish is generally going to be the most conspicuous aspect of wear and tear.

On the other hand, if you're looking for an outdoor setting for your deck or patio, then oak will require less maintenance over the long run to stand up to the elements of mother nature.

If you're getting a wardrobe for a child's bedroom - does it really need to last 50 years?

So think about what you're using the furniture for, how much maintenance you're happy to perform over the years, and then you can decide whether or not you need the additional durability that oak offers.


If a natural finish is applied, pine will always be quite light in color. Oak on the other hand comes in a variety of natural hues with some whiter than pine and others being much darker.

Of course if you're going to stain, lacquer, or even paint the wood, you'll be able to achieve which ever amount of light and dark you want, and given this is what many people do the color issue becomes moot.

The main difference between these two options are the differences in the wood grain itself, but as the furniture expert from ECustomFinishes in the video below shows, the final finish involves how much sanding and smoothing is done in addition to any coloration applied. Basically, it comes down to personal taste as to what kind of finish you achieve with either type of wood.


Oak is typically a lot heavier than pine - this is a significant contributing factor to its durability.

If your new wood furniture is going to be something that isn't moved around often, like a dining room table, then you don't really need to worry about how heavy it is. On the other hand, if you're getting a coffee table or a table in a games room where some regular amount of moving around is likely to take place, then you should take weight into account.

Environmental Impact

Oak takes significantly longer to grow than Pine. I live near a pine plantation and I'm amazed year after year how quickly the plantation changes as the tall trees are cut down and replaced by new seedlings.

Oak is far less often grown in plantations due to its slow growing nature and also because some species struggle to develop in a monoculture setting. As a result oak tends to be taken from old growth forests having a much greater impact on the environment - particularly in relation to animal habitats.

Don't be afraid to ask your furniture supplier where the wood comes from and if you don't like their answer, find someone else.

One way to avoid the environmental issues with any type of wood is to buy furniture made from Reclaimed Wood. This type of wood is usually taken from old structures like barns, bridges and even old boats. I even know of one guitar luthier who uses old church doors and even shipwrecked cargo.


I did a quick scan of furniture shops including Furniture Plus Online in the UK and Leonard's Oak World in the US - both these companies sell oak and pine furniture.

As you might expect, it's pretty clear that oak does cost more than pine - so if price is your main consideration then pine is probably your best choice.


While it largely boils down to personal preferences, Oak is best for durability and Pine dominates when it comes to price.

If you're like me and you take your environmental footprint into consideration, then go with pine unless you can get reclaimed oak.

You might also like to read:
Can You Have Too Much Oak?
5 Steps to Restoring Old Wooden Tables

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