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Grades Of Hardwood Flooring

by Canadian Sanders

Different Grades Of Hardwood Floors

When it comes to hardwood flooring, the grade of the floor is a key factor in determining the different plank textures and natural features. It’s important to note that knots, grains, shakes, checks, or other character traits do not affect the quality of the planks. Ultimately, the choice of grade is a matter of personal preference and design aesthetic, as it will impact the overall feel of your floor. High-grade wood has a very polished and perfect look, while low-grade timber has a more natural, rugged appearance with lots of character. The grading system was established over 100 years ago by the National Hardwood Lumber Association and is commonly used to describe hardwood flooring.

The grade of the wood flooring is determined by the type of wood used and how it was manufactured. There are two main categories of wood flooring: solid hardwood and engineered. Solid wood floor is made from a single piece of wood that is milled into a completely solid board. Engineered wood, on the other hand, is made from several layers of wood that are glued together, with the top layer being made of solid wood. The four most common grades of hardwood flooring are AB, ABC, ABCD, and CD. It’s important to note that these grades can apply to both types of hardwood flooring.

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You can expect a flawless appearance when it comes to prime-grade hardwood flooring. Knots, if any, will be tiny and scarce, and there will be very little filler used, with the color of the fill being complementary rather than an exact match. The wood pieces will also have minimal color variation, resulting in a uniform look. Keep in mind that while the grade of the wood affects its appearance, it doesn’t impact its durability or structural integrity. 


This type of flooring may have some slight color variations and knots but nothing too drastic. It’s worth noting that there may be some minor imperfections in the milling process, as well as tiny pin knots or holes. However, overall, the face of the plank should be smooth and free of defects like streaks, blisters, chips, or scratches.



 If you’re looking for wood with a classic or character grade, you may be interested in our natural grade option. This grade is also known as second, millrun, or #1 common. It’s worth noting that natural-grade wood will have virtually limitless knots in terms of both number and size, and there will be larger amounts of sapwood, heartwood, and filler than in classic-grade wood. Additionally, you may notice larger knots, small splits, knot holes, variations in the angle of end matching, uncoated bevels, minor dents, and tiny bubbles. 


Rustic also referred to as #2 common or third-grade boards. They tend to be shorter than natural boards and are known for their imperfections, such as plank faces that have a grainy surface. These boards are great for areas where a more natural-looking appearance is desired.


 For a more cost-effective choice, you may want to consider our tavern or cabin grade, also known as utility grade. This option may consist of mixed wood products and permit more apparent defects such as larger open knots, missing tongues, machine damage, more significant wood splits, and bigger variations in color. You might experience up to 25 percent wastage. 


When planning your hardwood floor, it is important to consider the hardwood grade. The grade of the floor plays a significant role in establishing the final look and character of your floor. It is not always necessary to opt for the highest grade possible. In fact, the more rustic grades can be a great choice for certain spaces and applications. To avoid making mistakes, it is advisable to talk to a hardwood flooring professional. They can guide you through the different grades and help you make an informed decision.

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