American white oak is a hardwood common throughout the eastern United States. The name ‘white oak’ encompasses numerous species, eight of which are commercially available as timber. Very similar in appearance and colour to the European oak, American white oak has light-coloured sapwood and a light to dark brown heartwood. White oak is mostly straight grained with a medium to coarse texture, with longer rays and more figure than American red oak. It has large distinctive growth rings, and some medullary rays may be present.
American white oak is used for a wide range of applications, including shipping and boat building, flooring, architectural joinery, exterior joinery, railways sleepers and timber bridges due to its strength and resistance to decay. It is also an excellent timber for high-grade furniture, interior woodwork and paneling. Because of its impermeability, the timber is suitable for vats and casks holding liquids such as wine and spirits.
American white oak is a hard, heavy wood, and has low stiffness and good overall strength, making it increasingly popular as a structural timber. It also has very good steam bending properties. White oak machines well and is easy to glue, nail and screw. It readily accepts stains and polishes to a good finish. The heartwood is susceptible to lyctid borer attack and to termites.