American white oak is a particularly attractive, durable type of timber with a subtle natural lustre, and is highly resistant to rot. Grown mainly across Eastern parts of the United States, it comes in light yellow-brown to pale biscuit tones, with an occasional pink tinge to the wood, depending on the region of origin.
Because oak grows slowly it is extremely tough and heavy, with densely packed growth rings creating a fine grain that is practically water-tight. This enables the timber to withstand a lot of wear and tear, making it an ideal material for staircases.
Oak takes quality wood treatments very well, polishing and staining to an excellent finish. This is necessary to seal the pores and protect the surface of the timber. With the correct finishing (we recommend Fiddes hard wax oil), American white oak provides a beautifully grained timber that will become a talking point of any home.
With its beautiful grain and colouring, oak is synonymous with luxury and quality. At Custom Wood Turning we build and supply a huge range of oak staircases and stair parts in both American white oak and European oak. We really know our timbers here, so you can be sure we can recommend the right wood for you – and we love working with oak. On this page we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of this beautiful timber, and the oak staircase designs our team can achieve.
European oak is also a premium, high quality timber with excellent strength and durability. It tends to be slightly darker than American white oak, with a more even colour tone. It normally comes in golden brown shades ranging from tan to biscuit, but can sometimes assume an attractive silver-grey tone on the end-grain once sawn.
This type of timber usually has a fine, distinctive grain which is a little smaller than the American equivalent. It offers excellent steam-bending properties and readily accepts wax and varnish. As European oak is less widely available than American white oak, it is generally more expensive
You can also use wood stain, varnish or paint for your finish – although if you are intending to paint the stairs, you may as well choose a cheaper softwood for any components that are going to be covered up.
Many of our clients prefer American white oak not just for its beauty, but its ability to be matched to flooring and skirting in similar American white oak.
If you find that your new staircase is a slightly different shade to your existing oak doors, floor or skirting boards, you can change the colour to a certain extent by coating the staircase components in wax oil, coloured varnish or wood stain. The overall effect is stunning, as you can see from this example.