The primary difference between oak and pine is that oak is a hardwood, while pine is considered a softwood. Oak is known for its superior strength and durability. It is long-lasting and has a fairly high resistance to moisture and humidity. Pine is stiff and sturdy, but it cannot match the hardness and durability of oak. It tends to wear down over time, especially when exposed to heavy use.
Most types of oak are darker than pine and have a pronounced grain pattern. When you touch an oak door, you are likely to feel some type of texture because of its heavy grain, while a pine door will usually be smooth to the touch. Pine has a much more rustic look and tends to show natural characteristics like knots and other flaws.
An interior oak door will almost always cost more than a pine door of a similar grade. This is partially because of the long growth period required for oak, but also because pine trees are more plentiful in the U.S. Oak doors can cost double or even triple the price of pine, but they also tend to be more durable and longer-lasting. This higher upfront cost should be carefully weighed against the longer expected life of the door before making a purchase.
Buyers should consider whether they plan to paint or stain their doors before deciding to choose either pine or oak. The heavy grain on an oak door can often look unattractive when painted, but is considered very appealing when stained or sealed. Pine's fine-grain patterns can look boring when stained, but they give the door a smooth surface for painting. Pine is also porous and does not absorb stain evenly, making oak the better choice for staining.
Each of these wood species is available in several different varieties to give buyers a choice when it comes to color and grain. Red oak has a dark reddish-brown color and an open grain, while white oak is much lighter with a tight, even grain pattern. Yellow pine has a yellow or red color and a fairly deep grain, while white pine is pale with a grain that is barely visible. Red pine is the darkest of the three types of pine and has the heaviest grain.