What Are The Different Grades Of Wood Flooring?

What Are The Different Grades Of Wood Flooring?

Are you thinking about upgrading your property with some brand new flooring? Maybe you’re in the middle of a new build, and you’re wondering what grade of flooring is best for your property?

This is an important decision! Choosing the flooring grade that suits your needs and your property’s needs is vital for your home’s integrity. 

Choosing a suitable grade of flooring is quite tricky as it can be a real challenge to identify the different grades. But with a bit of help, you’ll be able to get the exact flooring you need for your build. 

Today we’ll show you exactly how to identify the different wood flooring grades. 

By taking in what our flooring experts have to say, you’ll have a much better understanding of wood flooring grades. You’ll also have more confidence when picking out the correct grade of flooring for your home! 

How can you tell the difference between the grades of wood flooring?

When it comes to flooring grades, there are four main categories, and these are:

  • Prime grade
  • Select or classic grade
  • Character grade
  • Rustic grade

The grade of timber refers to the number of knots, sapwood, and imperfections in a piece of wood. 

So, for example, an extremely high grade of wood flooring would have:

  • Small knots
  • A low amount of sapwood
  • Little to no imperfections 
  • Less colour variation

Let’s take a closer look at what affects the wood flooring grade and the four grade categories. 

What features indicate the grade of wood flooring?

There are four main things to look out for when indicating the grade of wood flooring. These are knots, sapwood and heartwood, checks and shakes, and medullary rays. 

Let’s take a closer look at what each of these features means when it comes to the grade of your wooden flooring. 

  1. Knots

Knots are a relatively common natural feature found in wood. These imperfections are formed from branches that cause the wood grain to grow around them and develop a knot. 

Sometimes knots can be replaced with filler to create a better-looking floor. But if you want flooring without the appearance of knots, you’ll have to carefully select a higher grade of wood that doesn’t have them. 

  1. Sapwood and heartwood

Wood is categorised into two categories:

  1. Sapwood
  2. Heartwood

Sapwood is the living part of the tree. It’s the tree’s outer layer and is often lighter in colour and softer than heartwood. 

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Depending on the type of flooring you’re looking at, the amount of sapwood and heartwood varies. For example, the majority of hardwood flooring features a lot of heartwood. 

Heartwood is the inner part of the tree. It’s a lot more solid and is a darker shade of colour than sapwood. Generally, a higher grade of flooring will have more heartwood than sapwood.  

  1. Checks and shakes 

Shakes and cracks on the surface of your wood are usually because of how it was seasoned after it was felled. But, sometimes, it can occur during the tree’s growth, depending on its growing conditions. 

The forming of shakes can be minimised as the wood is seasoned. By regulating the temperature and moisture levels the wood is exposed to the number of shakes will be reduced. 

Checks are another kind of crack that forms in the wood when it’s seasoned. As the surface of the wood dries if the wood reacts unevenly to the moisture loss stress will build up. This reaction causes the wood’s fibres to split apart and form checks – reducing the grade of the wood. 

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  1. Medullary Rays

Medullary rays are often found on high-quality wood flooring. Medullary rays are proof that the wood you’re using is quarter sawn. They’re what remains of the cells within the once-living wood. They run at a perpendicular angle to the grain. 

These cells in the wood performed the essential function of transporting nutrients around the tree. 

Quarter sawing produces the strongest grade of wood as it cuts directly across the grain. So if you see medullary rays, you know you’re using incredibly high-quality wood for your flooring. 

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The four main categories of wood flooring grades

  1. Prime grade
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Prime grade timber is the highest grade available for wood flooring. It has minimal to almost no knots, and if a piece of timber did have knots, they’d be very small and not very noticeable. 

Any filler on the flooring will be a colour that complements the surrounding wood. This grade of flooring also has very minimal sapwood content. This helps create a more uniform appearance meaning there is very little variation in colour between each plank.

If you’re looking for a smooth, finished look for your home, then prime-grade timber is precisely what you should be choosing for your flooring. It looks exquisite when it’s down, and it’ll give your home a sleek finish. 

  1. Select or classic grade
Picture 2

Like the prime grade, select grade timber is timber made up of a majority of excellent grade timber and a mix of other timber. Some timber might contain minor knots, but it’s usually quite knot-free. 

Select grade, or classic grade as it’s also known, contains slightly more sapwood than prime grade and has a bit of colour variation between each plank. 

Any knots on select grade wood are usually filled with filler to complement the tones in the timber, so it’s barely noticeable when laid down. 

  1. Character grade
Picture 3

Character grade is a lot like classic grade, but it has a lot more knots. The knots are often a lot larger in size compared to the small ones found on classic grade wood. 

The planks of character grade timber often include both heartwood and sapwood, which causes a lot more colour variation. The wood tends to have more checks and shakes too. 

Knots, holes, and other imperfections are covered with coloured filler to help complement the natural structure of the wood. 

  1. Rustic grade
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Known as a natural or rustic grade, this type of timber is full of character. There are no limits to the size and number of knots in the wood, and there are often plenty of checks and shakes. 

The imperfections can be filled or left unfilled. The colour variations are maximised with this type of timber grade, and many people love to use this for their home if they’re going for a farmhouse, rustic look!

We hope our blog has helped you understand the different wood flooring grades. 

If you’re considering upgrading your home with new flooring this year, or you want to find the perfect timber floor for your new build, our team is here for you. 

Freshwoods has over 30 years of experience refurbishing, replacing, and installing floors. Our team is ready to help you get the perfect flooring for your home. 

Get in touch with our team today to schedule a quote!

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