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Antique pine furniture Vs antique oak furniture

Antique pine furniture Vs antique oak furniture


What is the difference between pine and oak and which is better for furniture? Here, we look at the differences between the two most common woods used for furniture, and examine the enduring popularity of both.

What's the difference between pine and oak?

The main difference between oak and pine is that oak is classified as a hardwood while pine is a softwood. These terms do not refer to how hard the wood is, but to the type of tree it comes from. Hardwood is from deciduous trees that drop their leaves in winter and whose seeds have a fleshy covering (as with cherries) or a hard covering (acorns). A softwood is from evergreen conifers which retain their scaly leaves or needles year-round and which have bare, exposed seeds.

Is pine a good wood for furniture?

Being a softwood, pine is less dense than oak and is easy to work with and can be cut and shaped without any trouble. It is a naturally light-coloured, strong wood with a striking grain and distinctive knots which gives furniture a very authentic look. Pine can be stained, varnished or painted giving it a versatility that allows it to blend seamlessly into any style of interior and complement other types of wood. Antique pine furniture will endure and has a patina that develops into a warm, rich appearance. It is also resistant to shrinkage and cracking and benefits from a regular application of furniture oil to maintain its condition.

Is antique pine still popular?

Pine furniture has fallen in and out of favour over the decades but always enjoys a resurgence in popularity when interior design trends swing towards the rustic or country feel. Interestingly, the pine pieces often coveted by collectors would originally have been the humble belongings of servants and the poorer members of society, and the New York Times called it the “poor man’s furniture of Britain” in 1982. Indeed, the rise in the demand for English antique pine, particularly in the US, coincided with the birth of the English Cottage style of designers like Laura Ashley in the 1980s. Today, antique pine is still popular and is seen as a strong, long term investment: antique pine tables are particularly popular as they can work in every room of the house.

Is oak a good wood for furniture?

Oak is one of the oldest furniture materials in the world and is a durable, hard wood. Native to the UK, oak trees have a long life span, taking 150-200 years to reach maturity, which produces a dense and hard-wearing wood that doesn’t scratch or damage easily. Red and white oak are popular varieties and furniture was often made from quarter sawn oak, a method that ensures the wood remains at its most solid. Quarter sawn oak also allows the wood’s naturally occurring medullary rays to be seen.  Oak was the dominant timber used for furniture in Georgian England and was a favourite of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Antique oak furniture needs nothing more than regular waxing every 3-4 months to keep it looking its best. It is bold and dramatic and contrasts well with the neutral palette favoured by contemporary interior designers. Buyers of antique oak furniture should look for a rich colour and patina, good proportions and strong designs; rarer pieces will have complex and intricate inlays.

Which is better for furniture?

When it comes to pine and oak, neither wood is better than the other for furniture, and the choice comes down to personal choice. Both woods have a beautiful grain and although oak is a naturally longer lasting material, pine offers great endurance.

At Hemswell Antique Centres, our dealers’ period furniture and antique pine pieces attract interest from around the world. We appreciate that overseas buyers are not always able to visit in person, and that it can be hard to judge a piece of furniture accurately online. To provide our international customers with a better shopping experience with us, we offer Live Virtual Shopping Tours. Using the latest technology, we can accompany you around our four buildings, highlighting products of interest and showcasing individual items in detail. This gives our clients the peace of mind that what they are purchasing is exactly as described and seen, and this has proved extremely popular with clients looking for larger pieces of furniture.

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