Poplar Vs Red Oak: Which One is the Best for Your Project?

The reason Poplar and Red Oak are so famous is for their quality to make your home more beautiful. These are hardwoods and you can get domestic enhancement through them. As these woods are hugely different from each other, people want to learn more about Poplar Vs Red Oak.

Apart from their sameness in material that they are basically wood, there are differences in many other aspects. You cannot just pick any of these two types of wood and make anything out of them. For making these woods work, you need to learn if they are capable of it or not.

The Primal Differences

A piece of wood comes with several attributes with which one has to judge and differ from the other. Similarly, Poplar and Red Oak have differences in density, appearance, grain pattern, and many other facts. While Red Oak wood is less porous than Poplar wood, the former has more density than the latter. Because of this attribute, Poplar wood has more flexibility too. Besides, these two kinds of woods have different color too and this also puts an impact on their grain pattern.

Apart from these things, there are other differences which might give you new insights about them. For now, watch out for this comparison table for quick information.

Poplar Vs Red Oak: A Comparison Table

FeaturesPoplarRed Oak
AppearanceWhitish or green cast like and featurelessReddish and featured
DurabilityLess                       More

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About Poplar Wood

Poplar Wood

For your woodworking projects, the use of poplar wood is immense. It’s because they are less expensive and better for carving experimental wooden art pieces. You cannot be really a very big fan of poplar because it is bland in its grain pattern.

Besides that, there are several downsides of poplar wood. But we are not downsizing this wood entirely. It has good qualities too. Because this type of wood is less dense and more porous, it comes with flexibility. So, there is a good chance that you can make great carving with this flexibility in your wood-related DIY project.

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Things We Liked about Poplar

  • Great for many types of woodworking project
  • Offers great flexibility and thus does not crack easily
  • Soft despite being hardwood and has a suitable stain
  • Very cheap than other many hardwoods

Things We Didn’t Like about Poplar

  • Comes with a very bland feature
  • Less remarkable as a type of hardwood

About Red Oak Wood

Red Oak Wood

Oak wood has a major fan base. It’s because of their tremendous wood grain pattern. The appearance of this red oak wood is so great that anything you made out of it looks amazing. For making beautiful pieces of furniture to handle big projects of woodworking, red oak has a great name.

Besides, for making panels, red oak wood provides the perfect shape and grain pattern. As the wood is very denser, it does not have any pores. Most importantly, the moisture level of this wood is at a lower level and this will help the wood prevent damage, and warping. But the flexibility is not so great in this wood and it is a little bit expensive.

Things We Liked about Red Oak

  • Marvelous wood grain enhances the beauty of your furniture
  • Great density within offers low moisture
  • You can get several shades and colors of it
  • With its high durability, you can get longer service

Things We Didn’t Like about Red Oak

  • Very expensive
  • Comes with less flexibility

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Difference between Poplar and Red Oak

There are many differences between these two types of hardwoods. If you go through the dissimilarities, you will definitely find them as different as Jazz music is from classic. Well, let’s discuss this in detail.


The major difference on the surface level lies in their appearance. Poplar wood has a very featureless appearance and it almost looks bland. On the other hand, red oak wood comes with a great feature. It has a defined grain pattern and they look amazing from both close and distant glance.

Besides, from the color scheme, poplar has a whitish or off-white color pattern which does not give off the vibe of raw wood. Red oak, in this aspect, comes with the raw and authentic red complexion of wood and its intricate grain pattern adds the real flavor of a top-notch piece of wood.

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Density and Flexibility

Poplar wood does not come with dense construction. It has more pores and they prevent the density of this hardwood. Red oak wood has a great density in this case. It’s because this wood is less porous and that’s why offers great density. That’s why the latter has less flexibility too.

It cracks or breaks down if you don’t act carefully to measure its flexibility. Poplar cuts you some slack in this respect.

Hardness and Usability

One has to measure the hardness of the woods and then measure which category of the woodwork the wood kind fits mostly. According to Janka Scale, red oak is 1220Ibf hard and Poplar is only 540Ibf. Therefore, you cannot use poplar for making heavy-duty elements.

Mostly, both these two hardwoods are used for indoor enhancement. While red oak is used for different designing and heavy-end walls, chairs, work tables, or panels for windows and doors, poplar is used to make pieces of furniture that have no heavy job to do and other low-key woodworking projects. The latter also contributes as a backing material.

Work Efficiency

You can already tell how efficient red oak is than poplar wood. Because the former has a great wooden features with its tremendous hardness, its versatility is huge. But poplar wood is not attractive and does not offer much workability and that’s why it is hardly used as enhancing an important part of a house. But for carving, poplar assists in a better way.  

Infections of Molds or Insects

As wood is sensitive, they prone to attract mold, mildew, and other insects too. Both red oak and poplar woods attract these infestations too. But if you clean them regularly they will behave. But in this case, you can tame red oak easily by washing them with soapy water regularly.

Conversely, poplar, being more porous, penetrates water while cleaning and increases the moisture level of wood. It helps to decay the wood sooner. That’s why a regular checkup and mild wash are necessary on them.

Price Range

Knowing all the greater benefits that you get from red oak wood, you can already guess that it can expensive to highly expensive. Conversely, poplar is very cheap.

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So, which one is better?

Judging from all their superficial and in-depth aspects, it can be told that bringing red oak to make different high-end wood projects will last longer and ensure durability as well. Besides, it is easy to maintain and can be repaired after its damage to some extent.

But if you want to have budget-friendly hardwood, then poplar can be your call. You just need to take care of it more and you can get better service through it as well.

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Is poplar a high-quality wood?

Judging from the strength and hardness, poplar is not so high-quality wood. It has less water-resistant power and less density. Overall, it carries some disadvantages, yet it is better than many other vulnerable types of wood.

Is red oak the hardest wood?

Red oak is one of the hardest woods but not on the top list. But its great hardness makes it very popular for making high-end pieces of equipment indoors.  

How hard is poplar compared to red oak?

Poplar is rather fragile compared to red oak. It is red oak that is super hard than poplar. It is almost 680Ibf stronger than the poplar wood according to the Janka scale.

Can poplar be as strong as oak?

Poplar can be strong, but not as strong as oak.

Is Red Oak the hardest type of wood?

No, Red Oak is not the hardest wood, but it is a durable hardwood.

Is poplar a good quality wood?

Poplar is considered a medium-quality wood, but it is suitable for a variety of projects.

Is poplar a type of red wood?

Poplar is not a type of redwood; it is a hardwood that is light in color.

Is poplar an affordable type of wood?

Poplar is generally an affordable type of wood.

What is poplar best used for?

Poplar is best suited for indoor furniture, trim, and other decorative applications.

Why is poplar a popular choice for wood?

Poplar is popular because it is easy to work with, affordable, and versatile.

What type of wood is similar to poplar?

Birch and maple woods are similar to poplar.

Is poplar a soft or hard type of wood?

Poplar is considered a hardwood, but it is softer than other hardwoods like oak and maple.

How strong is poplar wood?

Poplar wood’s strength varies depending on its density and moisture content.