March 8, 2024

Why is Oak more Expensive than Pine?

Written by Michelle Martin

A Comparative Guide to the Best Choice for your Project

There’s no denying that pine and oak both look great in architectural designs. But which one is the best for your project? Both options have their pros and cons but ultimately your decision will come down to your situation and requirements. Deciding factors will include a mix of budget, the aesthetic you’re trying to achieve and what the furniture will be used for. 

Oak Trees – The Background 

Oak tree

Comprising over 600 species, Oak trees are one of the oldest and most widely spread trees in the world. In Britain, there are five species of oak, two of which are native; Common oak, also known as English oak, and Sessile oak, with three other species, Holm oak, Red oak and Turkey oak, which are imported. 

 The oak tree has a significant association with the English countryside and is easily recognisable thanks to its distinctive shape and size. Oak trees can grow up to 148 feet tall and live up to 1000 years, although the usual lifespan of an oak tree is about 200 years. 

 Young oaks have smooth, silvery brown bark but, as they age, the trunk grows rugged and is covered in finger-shaped platelets with deep grooves in between. The trunk can grow to a massive size; a circumference of up to 10 metres has been known in older trees. 


Pine Trees – The Background 

Pine tree

Comprising over 100 different species, Pine trees are the most common coniferous tree in the world. These trees are native to most countries in the Northern Hemisphere and tend to form large forests that are characterised by wide-open areas. In the UK, two of the most ubiquitous species of pine are Scots Pine and Austrian Pine. 

Pine trees are easily identifiable due to their cone shape and needle-like leaves. The needles produced can vary from one to 11 inches long and range from blue to dark green. Another feature characteristic of the pine tree is its reddish-brown or grey bark. Similar to the oak tree, a pine tree’s bark will be smooth when the tree is young but will likely become flaky as it ages. 

These trees are considered evergreen meaning they keep their needles for at least two years and, when old needles fall, new ones are ready to grow in their place. 

The pine tree can reach a range of sizes in their maturity sizes depending on the species; some species have been known to reach up to 100 feet tall. 

Soft vs Hardwood 

When it comes to picking wood for your build, you may wonder what the difference is between softwood and hardwood. Surprisingly, hardwood isn’t necessarily harder than softwood, nor is softwood necessarily softer than hardwood. 

The distinction between the two actually has to do with their plant reproduction. All trees reproduce by producing seeds, but the seed structure varies between hardwood trees and softwood trees. Hardwood trees, such as Oak, produce seeds that have an outer shell or “covering”; like an acorn. On the other hand, softwood trees, such as pine, let their seeds fall to the ground with no covering meaning their seed spread covers a much wider area. 

In addition, softwood trees tend to be less structurally dense than hardwood trees and are, therefore, generally easier to cut and work with. 

Environmental Impact 

Pine that is used in architecture is usually grown in vast, but controlled plantations; when an older tree is being harvested, seedlings are put down to ensure there are always new trees growing. 

Unlike pine trees, which are often grown in dense forests, oak trees require greater biodiversity and space. This means they can’t be grown as efficiently as pine and, coupled with their longer growing time, often means they aren’t as sustainable unless they’re carefully managed which of course impacts the cost. 

Because Pine is easier to manage, replace and quicker to grow, it is generally considered the better option for those concerned about their environmental impact. 

Grain and Appearance 

Oak comes in a number of different hues, but it’s the grain pattern that makes it unique. Oak grains tend to be wavier with more knots and unique markings than pine, which, combined with its natural golden colour, creates a beautiful piece of furniture that is truly one of a kind. 

Pine varies in colour, from creamy white to yellow, although the specific shade can vary. This light colour makes pinewood really versatile as it can be stained to pretty much any colour you want to match your existing furnishings. Pine takes various stains and waxes well, so you’re guaranteed quality results no matter what finish option you choose. Pine also has a prominent grain with knots darker than the wood giving it an incredibly unique look which many people love. 

When the wood is unfinished or has a natural finish, pine will usually be lighter in colour than oak, although there are occasions where particular oak trees or species will have very pale wood. 

However, the natural colour of oak and pine will rarely actually impact your choice of which material to choose for your furniture; both pine and oak can be finished differently to alter the appearance. Different finishes can make furniture lighter or darker so you can get the look you want. 

Why not check out our Guide to Wood in Interior Design and Architecture.


Oak takes over a hundred years to grow which is why the wood is so strong naturally. Nonetheless, when a suitable finish is applied to oak, it makes the wood even more durable and generally tougher than most types of other wood (including pine). 

Pine is a very stiff type of wood which still makes it a durable option. An added advantage to using pine, being a softwood, is that hardwood will often warp in humid environments whereas pine will have minimal shrinking or swelling issues. 

 Nonetheless, in the context of most projects, oak is much harder-wearing than pine which is more prone to wear and tear over time.


When the weights of pine and oak are compared, it’s probably not surprising that oak wood is heavier due to its density. 

Can Oak and Pine be Painted? 

Both oak and pine can be painted. While painted oak details in a building are not uncommon, pine actually lends itself better to painting. This can be another great reason to choose pine for windows where a specific design is wanted — it can be repainted years down the line if it begins to look tired or out of date.  

Is Oak better than Pine?

There’s a common conception that oak is better than pine. However, this isn’t true. Oak and pine have their own benefits such as wood hardness, colour and durability. It depends on what you need as to which is better for you. Oak is longer-lasting, while pine is friendlier on your wallet while still being sturdy and attractive. 


If you're looking to use oak or pine timber on your project contact the team at Avino who would able to discuss the project acquirements and suggest possible solutions.