Oak vs. Other Woods: Is Oak Good for Your Dining Table?

is oak good for dining table

Imagine gathering around a table that’s more than just a piece of furniture; it’s a centerpiece of daily life, a symbol of stability and style. This brings us to an intriguing question: Is oak the right choice for your dining table? Think of oak, not just as a material, but as a character in your home’s story. It’s a wood that echoes with the whispers of ancient forests, offering a combination of rugged endurance and timeless elegance. Every oak dining table is a canvas, showcasing unique grain patterns like nature’s own art. It’s where durability meets design, where family meals turn into cherished memories, and where style meets substance. So, as you ponder this decision, picture the warm, inviting presence of an oak table in your home. Could this be the unsung hero of your dining room, waiting to anchor your space with its enduring charm?

Which Wood Is Best For A Dining Table?

Which Wood Is Best For A Dining Table

When pondering over the wood options for a dining room table, it’s essential to consider how this piece becomes central to our homes. It’s where family and friends gather to celebrate holidays and special occasions, or simply share a meal on a daily basis. Whether it’s an informal setting for work, projects, or relaxing conversation, these important moments require a dining table that’s not just comfortable and functional, but also beautiful.

In my years of experience, especially during my time interacting with customers at the Evanston showroom, I’ve realized the choice of wood isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s about finding that perfect balance of qualities and characteristics like weight, density, grain pattern, and of course, price. Among the most popular woods, there’s a reason why builders often recommend North-American hardwood species such as Red Oak, Quarter Sawn White Oak, Brown Maple, Hard Maple, Hickory, Elm, and Cherry. Each of these woods brings a unique set of attributes to the table – quite literally!

Let me share a bit from our blog about these different wood types. Red Oak, for instance, offers durability and a classic look, making it a best choice for many. If you’re looking for something with a unique twist, the Quarter Sawn White Oak exhibits a distinctive grain pattern that sets any dining table apart. Hickory, known for its rugged strength, can withstand the rigors of daily use, while Cherry adds a touch of elegance with its rich, deep color.

The selection process, as I always emphasize to my clients, should involve considering how the wood aligns with their lifestyle and the shapes, styles, and sizes of their space. It’s about how the table will host those moments of celebration or relaxing evenings. Moreover, knowing that your choice is a responsibly harvested one adds to the satisfaction. It’s not just a table; it’s a story of sustainability and craftsmanship.


Oak dining table

In the realm of classic wood choices for a dining table, Oak stands out for its hardwearing nature, able to handle frequent and long-time usage with ease. A bonus is its distinctive patterning, a feature that makes oak a popular choice in table production. Its beautiful wood grain comes to full glory, making it a perfect fit for the family home. This hard wood’s ability to resist even little dents makes it ideal for daily life.

Considering reclaimed oak dining tables is a great way to approach purchasing eco-consciously. Not only do these tables add unique character to your space, but they also bring a story with them. Whether it’s brand new oak dining tables or reclaimed ones, each piece speaks of durability and timeless beauty, making it a treasured addition to any home.





Shifting focus from the robustness of oak to the elegance of Walnut, one of the hardest woods available, we find a unique blend of patterning and shades that elevate any piece of furniture. Walnut has gained popularity in furniture production, especially for those seeking an urban feel or industrial design in their dining table. Its ability to be straight cut lends itself to designs that are slim, sleek, and characterized by clean lines. This contrast with oak’s often more pronounced grain and warmer tones allows walnut to stand out as a sophisticated, contemporary choice, offering a distinct flair to modern dining spaces.


Maple Dining Table

While discussing hard woods like Oak for dining tables, it’s impossible not to mention Maple. This hard wood is renowned for its smooth touch and tighter grain compared to Oak, offering a significant advantage with its silky look. The very smooth finish of Maple, especially that of Brown Maple, positions it as an economical yet elegant choice within a varied price range. It brings a subtle, refined elegance to dining spaces, blending durability with a more contemporary feel. Its less pronounced grain compared to oak offers a cleaner, more uniform appearance, making it ideal for those seeking simplicity and sophistication in their furniture.

Brown Maple

Brown Maple

In the context of choosing wood for a dining table, where Oak is often the traditional go-to, Brown Maple offers a delightful alternative. Known for its light weight, Brown Maple distinctively absorbs colored stains well, allowing for a versatile range of finishes. Its smooth grain makes it a prime candidate for contemporary and modern pieces, bringing a soothing and welcoming presence to any dining area. This wood fits various dining styles, from casual use every day to more formal settings. Its ability to adapt to different aesthetics while maintaining functionality makes Brown Maple a unique and practical choice for those looking to blend tradition with modernity.

Hard Maple 

Hard Maple

Transitioning from the versatility of Oak, let’s delve into Hard Maple, a wood that exudes a smooth look and brings unparalleled robustness to dining tables. It is denser, heavier, and harder than many other woods, often reflected in being higher priced. But with this cost comes exceptional quality. Hard Maple is so dense that it stains poorly, a trait that underscores its natural beauty and eliminates the need for excessive treatments. In a dining room, a Hard Maple table makes a statement – it’s bold and elegant, fitting perfectly into dining rooms that aim to be both distinctive and durable. It’s an addition to your home that not only stands the test of time but also elevates the space with its natural elegance.


 Elm dining table

While Oak is often the quintessential choice for dining tables, let’s explore the unique allure of Elm. This beautiful wood is characterized by its interplay of dark and light lines, sprinkled with small flakes, creating a visual texture that enlivens any dining room. Imagine an Elm hutch, a table, and chairs that reflect your unique taste. Its grain closely resembles Quail feathers, instilling a feeling of one-of-a-kind design. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Elm is a strong wood with impressive tensile strength, granting it the ability to be bent and shaped in creative ways. This blend of beauty and strength makes Elm an intriguing option for those seeking to add a touch of the extraordinary to their dining spaces.


Cherry wood

In the world of wood dining furniture, while Oak is celebrated for its robustness, Cherry wood brings a different aesthetic to the table. Known for its smooth and even patterns, Cherry is adorned with tiny pits, soft lines, light curves, and dark outlines. The rich grain of Cherry, with its small dark spots and flecks of pits or mineral deposits, adds a layer of sophistication. Its inherent nature to darken upon exposure to light enhances its natural finish, often making it a preferred no-stain option. While it’s softer and lighter than other hardwoods, it’s still prone to dings and dents, unlike harder woods like Oak. Yet, this doesn’t detract from the warmth and elegance it brings to any room.

Reclaimed / Rustic

When considering Reclaimed wood for dining tables, it’s a journey from the past to the present. Unlike new wood sourced from initially mature trees, Reclaimed wood is popular not only for its environmentally friendly approach to furniture production but also for the lives it has seen. Each piece of furniture made from reclaimed wood adds a sense of warmth, history, and individuality to a dining room. These woods have grown and matured over years, often quickly repurposed specifically for furniture. This process infuses a rustic charm, telling a story of resilience and transformation, making every table unique in its character and appearance.

Learn More: How Large is a 10 Seater Dining Table

Why Oak Is The Best Wood For Dining Table

In this article, we take a deep dive into why Oak wood stands out among various wood species used for dining tables. While wood slabs like Olive wood and Purple Heart have their unique specific characteristics and have gained a spotlight in the furniture industry, it is Oak wood that continues to be the top choice for both homeowners and furniture makers. Its versatility goes beyond mere aesthetics; the colour tone of oak blends seamlessly with different decor styles, adding to its widespread appeal. But it’s the reliability of this timber that makes it most sought after. Oak’s durability and timeless elegance make it a staple in homes, proving time and again why it is the best choice for a dining table.


Tracing the origins of Oak, a subspecies widely dispersed across multiple continents, we find its common species used in dining tables is the European Oak. Cherished by furniture makers for its immense size and width, this timber can reach staggering lengths of up to 12 metres and widths of nearly 3 metres. The European Oak trees stand as some of the oldest tree species in the world, living up to 1200 years. Their huge size and the aged sturdiness make them an ideal dining table option for homeowners, especially those with big families. This ancient wood, rich in history and robustness, brings not just utility but a sense of continuity and heritage to the heart of the home.


Discussing durability, particularly of European Oak, it’s essential to note its status as a strong and moderately dense wood slab. In the furniture industry, durability is often gauged by the Janka scale, ranging from 0 to 4,000. European Oak boasts a hardness rating of around 1360, placing it well within the acceptable hardness range for a dining table. This rating assures that it can resist crack even under daily use. Furniture makers also value its resistance to fungal infestations and lesser tendency to be prone to rot and decay. Its high density and natural properties endow the wood with enough strength and durability to withstand everyday use. Even in tropical countries like Singapore, where humidity can be a concern, European Oak remains a reliable choice due to its inherent robustness.

Colour & Appearance

The colour and appearance of European Oak play a pivotal role in its popularity. Ranging from whitish brown to light brown, its colour tone resonates well with homeowners who lean towards trendy home aesthetics. This wood is a staple in Scandinavian and Japanese interior designs, known for their clean lines and natural elements. It’s a safe choice for many, thanks to its neutral tone that complements various home colour palettes. The European Oak is mostly straight-grained, a quality that lends the wood slab a clean and minimal look, making it an ideal choice for those who appreciate subtlety and elegance in their furniture choices.


European Oak is a remarkable choice for a dining table, owing to its sturdy wood slabs. However, to maintain its elegance, proper care is essential. A well coated surface, often with Rubio Monocoat or similar finish, is vital. This type of oil-based finish not only protects the surface but also penetrates into the core of the wood, ensuring good protection against daily hazards like water spills and scratch-resistance.

Maintaining the table involves routine cleaning of the surface with a damp, lint-free cloth. This should be done regularly to avoid the build-up of dust and debris. Routine dusting is also necessary to preserve the natural beauty of this natural material, which can be sensitive to temperature variations and direct sunlight.

Using coasters and placemats when serving food and drinks is highly encouraged. These small practices go a long way in preserving the integrity of the table. Additionally, detailed care instructions specific to the type of finish used on your European Oak table should be followed to ensure its longevity and aesthetic appeal.

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The Advantages of Having An Oak Dining Table 

What Is It That Makes Oak Such An Excellent Wood?

Oak, known as one of the best hardwoods, is exceptionally hard and solid, making it ideal for everyday use over many years. This is particularly true for dining tables, where durability is key. The grain of Oak is distinct, often showcasing a pattern of long, fine lines that sets it apart from other woods like Maple and Ash, which have a broader grain. Unlike Walnut, known for its unique marbling and dark brown tones, Oak offers a more subtle, yet equally refined and elegant appearance, making it a timeless choice for generations in a home.

From my experience, especially when crafting tables at Loewen Design Studios, we often see families desiring a piece that will grow with them, something their children will cherish. Oak fits this concept perfectly. For those unsure about the finish, we always recommend looking at samples to see how it complements your space before you order.

Everything You Should Know Before Buying A Wooden Dining Table

When choosing a solid-wood dining table, there are different factors to consider. The type of wood and the finish you apply can greatly depend on the look you wish to achieve for your space. With numerous options available, it can be hard to know where to start. A well-pulled together guide can be invaluable in buying your perfect wooden table, serving as a helping hand in this decision-making process.

From my experience, understanding the nuances of wood types and finishes is crucial. It’s not just about the aesthetic appeal; each type of wood and finish has its own set of characteristics that can affect the table’s longevity, maintenance requirements, and how it complements your existing decor.

Best Finish For Dining Tables

When it comes to a dining table made of oak, applying the right finish is a step that can make it last longer and look better. In furniture making, this part of the process is incredibly important. Finishing involves applying a special liquid to the wood surface which then dries to form a protective layer. The choice of finish can transform the appearance of the table by highlighting its natural beauty or changing its colour.

There are several options when it comes to finishing wood. These include wax, oil, and varnish, each with its own set of pros and cons. For example, wax creates a soft sheen and is easy to apply but offers less protection than varnish, which, while providing a durable finish, can alter the wood’s natural appearance. Oil finishes, on the other hand, penetrate deep into the wood, enhancing its natural grain and color.


Varnish, a sticky liquid that dries to a hard, clear, and shiny surface, is an excellent finish for oak dining tables. As it cures, it excels in sealing and protecting the wood from scuffs, stains, dirt, and liquids, forming a hard-wearing layer that doesn’t obscure the natural texture and grain of the wood. If damaged over time, the beauty of varnish is that you can sand down to the bare wood and re-varnish, ensuring the finish can last for years. Though it may need to be refinished eventually, it’s a great choice for those who prefer minimal maintenance.

Having worked with various finishes on oak tables, I’ve found that varnish stands out for its durability and ease of care. It maintains the natural look of the wood while offering a robust protective layer, making it ideal for a dining table that sees daily use

Hard Wax Oil

Hard Wax Oil is a hard-wearing alternative to traditional wax and oil finishes, being a blend of solid waxes and oil. This combination creates a tough, yet durable finish that’s both easy to apply and maintain. Over time, if the finish becomes worn, repair is straightforward, helping maintain the natural look and feel of the wood. It forms a barrier that is hardwearing yet requires less frequent upkeep, typically every 12 months for re-applying.

For anyone purchasing a solid wood dining table, this finish is an excellent choice. Not only is it easy to refinish, but it can give your table a new lease of life. I’ve seen many tables, especially those with a beautiful tabletop, benefit greatly from this finish, rejuvenating their appearance and extending their durability.

Wood Oil

Wood oils are an excellent option for a table finish, adept at both protecting the table and maintaining its natural feel and texture. These oils excel in enhancing the natural colour of the wood while protecting it from spillages and general use. Although more frequent reapplication may be required for tables that are regularly used, the process is relatively easy and can be done at home. Much like wax oils, they work to enhance the natural beauty of the wood, and although they may fade over time, topping up every 12 months depending on usage is typically sufficient.

In my experience, wood oils are particularly popular for those who love the raw, unaltered look of wood. They provide a practical yet aesthetically pleasing solution, keeping the wood well-preserved and highlighting its natural patterns and hues.


Wax finishes have been the ‘go-to’ for tables for centuries, known to enhance the grain of the wood while filling in voids in reclaimed wood. They are especially effective on tables that have been repaired or maintained. Although wax requires more frequent re-application for upkeep, typically every 6 months, it ensures the surface is consistently protected and retains its natural charm.

In my personal woodworking journey, using wax on oak dining tables has always been a rewarding experience. It subtly accentuates the wood’s natural patterns, adding a depth and warmth that other finishes sometimes fail to achieve. While it may need regular maintenance, the process is straightforward and adds to the overall longevity and beauty of the table.

Hard Wax Oil

Hard Wax Oil presents itself as a hard-wearing alternative to traditional wax and oil, combining the best of both. This blend of solid waxes and oil results in a tough and durable finish, ideal for the demands of a dining table. It’s straightforward to apply, maintain, and even repair when it becomes worn over time. This finish retains the natural look and feel of wood while providing a robust barrier against daily wear and tear.

In my experience with hardwearing finishes, especially on solid wood dining tables, Hard Wax Oil stands out. It not only protects the wood but also enhances its natural beauty. Typically, it needs re-applying every 12 months, making it a practical choice for busy households. The ease with which it can be refinished gives your table a new lease of life, especially beneficial for rejuvenating the tabletop and keeping it looking its best.

Learn More: How to Pair Kitchen and Dining Lights

The Pros and Cons of Oak Dining Tables

Oak has been a staple in furniture for centuries, its quality and esteemed status making it a top choice among homeowners. Especially for dining tables, it remains a popular option, often serving as the centrepiece in a natural living space. Its look is timeless, and these pieces are more than just furniture; they’re quality investments for your home. However, like any choice, there are both pros and cons to choosing to buy an oak dining table.

From my perspective, the positives of oak furniture are numerous. Its durability and timeless appearance make it a wise investment. However, the negatives cannot be overlooked. Oak furniture can be heavier and more expensive than other materials, requiring a significant commitment in both moving and financial terms.

Pros Of Oak Dining Tables

Durable and Long Lasting

Oak, being a dense hardwood, is exceptionally firm and durable, resilient to pressure, heat, and moisture. This innate strength makes it highly suitable for dining room furniture, where sturdiness is a key benefit for daily use. It’s a futureproof choice for any home, as an oak table is built to last.

In my personal experience working with various types of wood, oak stands out for its durability. Whether it’s the finishing touch in a family dining room or a centerpiece for gatherings, an oak table is more than just a piece of furniture; it’s a long-term investment, symbolizing strength and endurance.

Timeless Design

Oak furniture has graced homes for hundreds of years, exuding a natural warmth and character that’s both dignified and respectable, yet homely and inviting. Its timeless appearance effortlessly bridges the gap between classic and contemporary styles, ensuring it never looks odd or out of place. Whether your choice leans towards country rustic or shabby chic, or even more modern furniture styles, oak adapts to the style of your home and fits seamlessly.

In my experience, the enduring appeal of oak lies in its versatility. Its timeless elegance makes it a favorite for those who appreciate furniture that stands the test of time, both in durability and design. An oak dining table can be a centerpiece in any home, blending with various interior styles and evolving with changing decor trends.

Low Maintenance

Oak furniture is surprisingly easy to care for, without needing any specialist cleaning products to keep it looking good. Its natural ability to withstand both heat and moisture, especially with the right finish, means it can take a knock or scratch and still maintain its character. On a day-to-day basis, simple dust removal is often all that’s needed to keep this real wood looking like new.

My experience with oak furniture has shown me that its durability is matched by its ease of maintenance. Regular dusting and the occasional polish are often all it takes to maintain its appearance, making it an ideal choice for a busy household where a low maintenance routine is a priority.

Cons Of Oak Dining Tables

Bulky and Heavy

While the firm and durable solidity of Oak makes it ideal for dining tables, this strength comes with a trade-off: they can be quite bulky and heavy. This can pose a challenge when you need to rearrange furniture regularly, as their weight and size add to the difficulty. Such heft might limit some dining options, especially in smaller spaces or for those who enjoy frequently changing their room’s layout.

From my own experience in furniture design and interior planning, oak dining tables are often chosen for their lasting quality. However, I always advise considering the practicality of moving such a substantial piece, especially in dynamic or multi-use spaces. The weight of oak can be a significant factor for some homeowners, influencing their choice of dining table

Old Fashioned

Some might consider oak to have an old-fashioned look and style, especially when aiming for an ultra-modern aesthetic. While its classic appeal is undeniable, it’s important to recognize that oak can also be crafted to create alternative options that align with contemporary designs.

In my experience with interior design, oak’s traditional image is often a misconception. With innovative design techniques and finishes, oak furniture, including dining tables, can be transformed to fit modern, minimalist, or avant-garde styles, effectively challenging the notion that oak is purely old-fashioned.


The solid and durable nature of oak often comes with a hefty price tag, and this high cost can be off-putting when purchasing a dining table. While there are cheaper options available, especially during sale or discount periods, it’s worth noting that what you pay for with oak is its longevity and timeless appeal.

Through my experiences in furniture selection and design, I’ve seen many clients initially hesitate at the cost of oak dining tables. However, those who do invest in oak often find that the higher upfront cost is offset by the table’s durability and the timeless elegance it brings to their dining space, proving to be a worthwhile investment in the long run.

People Also Searching

What Is The Most Durable Dining Table Top?

Among the various materials available, oak stands out as one of the most durable and commonly used woods in dining furniture. Its wide, open grain structure not only adds to its aesthetic appeal but also plays a practical role. Minor surface scratches can be easily sanded down and refinished, extending the life of the table significantly.

Is Pine Or Oak Better For A Table?

When it comes to creating durable and long-lasting furniture, oak often emerges as the better choice over pine, despite the cost factor. While oak is more expensive, its longevity means fewer worries about replacing it over the years. On the other hand, pine can be a perfect option for those on a tighter budget or looking for a lighter material.

What Material Is Best For Dining Table?

When it comes to dining tables, wood remains the most traditional and popular choice due to its natural, durable nature. This material can be stained or painted to match any decor. Among hardwoods, oak, maple, and mahogany are top contenders, each renowned for their strength and durability.

How Thick Should An Oak Table Top Be?

For a wooden table top, especially made of oak, an ideal thickness is around one inch, which provides optimal stability and durability. However, the thickness can vary depending on the type of wood and its intended usage, be it a dining table, side table, or coffee table.

Which Dining Table Is Easy To Maintain?

For a formal style dining room, a glass dining table is often considered the easiest to maintain. Its surface is simple to clean and doesn’t require the regular care that wooden tables do.

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