Hardwood Floor & Surface Grade Quality

Hardwood Floor & Surface Grade Quality

Characteristics & Defects

The grade of the wood is based on the amount of clear wood in the plank. Although most people find these characteristics to be natural, beautiful and essential to the overall look and feel of the lumber, they are not always factored in when determining how much clear wood is available.

Natural characteristics that are allowed to be considered clear parts of the wood are burls, gum streaks, mineral streaks, glassworm and sticker marks. Characteristics that count against clear wood include bark pockets, bird pecks, checks, decaying or rotting, unsound knots, sound knots, splits, sticker stains, the wane, worm holes, the pith and grub holes.

Depending on the species, there are some exceptions to these rules. When selecting the type of wood for your project, ask one of our hardwood consultants to give you more details about what these factors mean for you.

 

Natural Color Variation

Every species of wood has its own unique set of colors that occur naturally as the tree grows. The grain, sapwood and heartwood are all areas that can vary drastically in color, resulting in one-of-a-kind planks.

To enhance these color variations, adding a clear or light finish will help with contrast and depth. To minimize the differences, applying a dark stain will assist in uniting the numerous colors.

 

Knot Size

One of the characteristics that transforms a piece of lumber into a work of art are the knots that can be found in the wood. Knots form where branches have died and fallen off. The knots add beauty but can take away from the strength of the wood.

Experienced craftsmen know how to judge if the knots will cause problems. Just because knots may be present does not automatically mean that the wood is of lesser quality or unsafe for various uses.

WEST | WOOD Options

American Oak

 

Perfect

(applicable to rift cuts only)

With rift cuts of hardwood, there is a special category to ensure quality is maintained. Knots may be present but cannot be larger than ¼” in diameter. The planks must be at least 98% heartwood.

Perfect grade will have a linear grain with almost no flecking. If flecking does occur, it must be less than ⅛” wide and shorter than 3” in length. The flecking must not exceed a 35-degree angle from the edge of the plank.

 

Clear

This grade of wood is very uniform in color and may contain knots up to ¼” in diameter. No cracks, burls or other characteristics that some people may find distracting will be present. The planks are made up of at least 95% heartwood, allowing for 5% or less of sapwood. The end result is a very clean, modern look.

 

Select & Better

This category is made up of approximately 85% hardwood to allow for some of the variations that occur naturally. Some knots up to ¼” in diameter will be present in this combination of wood and are used very selectively to add just the right amount of personality.

You will see consistent grain texture with minor differences in color variation (more than what appears in clear grade options). This is usually because both heartwood and sapwood are used in this option.

 

Character

Character grade can be made up of 85% heartwood and 15% sapwood, displaying more differences in color from one plank to the next when compared to prime. This is the result of the different amounts of sap found in each plank.

Some crevices may be present, as well as knots up to 1” in diameter. Filler will be used to smooth out these areas using a tone that enhances the beauty of the wood.

 

Rustic

Although the term rustic usually refers to the appearance of hardwood, when it comes to grade quality, it can mean something completely different. Rustic hardwood usually has more natural imperfections, such as knots and a wider array of tones, hues and shades.

Rather than taking high grades of wood and distressing them to make them look rustic, it’s easier and more authentic to go directly to the source. Large knots are usually filled, although you do have the option of leaving them as-is.

At WEST | WOOD, we embrace these natural occurrences. The beauty created organically as the trees grow is what makes every plank of wood unique. We assure you that only rustic grade hardwood that is not structurally inferior to other grades is used.

 

European Oak

 

Prime

When it comes to prime grade hardwood, there are generally no visible knots. If there are, they tend to be tight knots and very small in size. The color variation between planks will be minimal.

With this selection, planks are almost completely made up of heartwood. Minor amounts of sapwood may be found, but this is rare.

 

Character

Character grade can be made up of both heartwood and sapwood, displaying more differences in color from one plank to the next when compared to prime. This is the result of the different amounts of sap found in each plank.

Some crevices may be present, as well as knots up to 1” in diameter. Filler will be used to smooth out these areas using a tone that enhances the beauty of the wood.