Oak and pine are two of the most frequently-used woods in houses. Both are broadly classified by color; oak red or white and pine yellow or white, although both woods come from a variety of species. Oak is a hardwood, pine a softwood; oak is rated at 1,000 to 1,300, pine at 300 to 600 on the Janka scale of hardness, an industry standard for the force required to dent wood.
Oak Stains Well
Oak is traditionally used for hardwood flooring, cabinets and trim molding, at the base of walls, at ceilings for crowns, on walls for chair rails. It is a very strong wood with impressive grain patterns. It can be easily shaped into decorative moldings and takes stain well. White oak is preferred for exterior molding because it resists water rot better. Red oak is generally used for inside molding.
Pine for Paint
Pine is very easy to form into molding designs and to install. It is light and easy to nail as molding trim on walls, around doors or windows or any other application. It takes stain well and can be finished in a wide variety of colors. It also takes paint well and is preferred for applications where molding will be painted to match or contrast with walls.
Oak has two basic grain patterns, vertical and flat. Vertical grains are very fine, with grain lines parallel and very close to each other. Flat grains are most common and are distinguished by a slight arch in the grain. Flat grain oak is usually used in trims and moldings. Oak molding can be an expensive option. Oak moldings are almost always finished naturally, to let the grain show.
Pine Is Inexpensive
Pine is one of the least expensive woods and one of the easiest to work with. It is the standard lumber for framing houses and is usually used for exterior trim and molding, on roof facings and around exterior doors and windows. It lacks the distinctive grain pattern of oak. The most common type for molding is southern pine, usually white pine for interior molding, yellow for framing and exterior trim.
Both oak and pine moldings are installed with finishing nails, either driven with a hammer or with an air nailer or gun. Nail heads are countersunk, driven below the surface of the wood, and the holes filled with a wood filler to match the wood. The choice between the molding types is usually based on cost and decoration -- oak for natural wood finishing, pine for paint.