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Appearance of Wood Floors

Other things can influence how a species looks as well, including grain and cut.


Grades Available

The appearance of the wood determines its grade. All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each affords you a different look.

Clear Grade clear-gradesis a flooring product with minimal character marks that provides the most uniform appearance.  It may still include the natural color variations inherent in the species and varying grain patterns.

Select Grade – or, more commonly Select & Better Grade is a flooring product with natural heartwood/sapwood color variations and varying grain patterns that may also include small infrequent knots and mineral streaks, etc.

#1 Common Grade has more natural characteristics such as tight knots, color and grain variations and wormholes than either clear or select grades, and often is chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room.

#2 and #3 Common Grade is rustic in appearance and emphasizes all wood characteristics of the species – large, possibly open knots, color and grain variations, mineral streaks and worm holes and tracks.

First Grade has a uniform appearance, natural color variations and limited character marks. It is similar to a select grade.

Second Grade is varied in appearance and features knots and some variation in color. It is similar to a #1 Common grade.

Third Grade is rustic in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species. It is similar to a #2 & #3 Common grade.


Grain Patterns Available

The angle at which a board is cut determines how the finished product looks. Wood flooring is either plain sawn, quarter sawn or rift sawn.

Plain Sawn is the most common cut – the growth rings are from 0 – 30° to the face (more or less parallel to the face – which is why it is sometimes called Flat Sawn). Characteristics are its wavy, flame like grain appearance. It is the least expensive because it is easier to produce from the log.  This grade is available in all species.

Quarter Sawn is more expensive than plain sawn – with the growth rings from 45° – 90° to the face. Characteristics are relatively straight parallel lines and more uniform grain appearance with iridescent ray flecks in Red & White Oak. Other woods, such as Walnut & Beech can exhibit a wavy undulating appearance to the grain.

Rift Sawn is more expensive than plain sawn, as well – with its growth rings typically from 30° – 60° to the face of the board. It has the same straight parallel grain as quarter sawn but without the ray flecks, giving it the most benign and minimalist appearance. .