Paul's European Touch Pro Wood Floors, Inc. email

Grades Of Wood Flooring

The cosmetic appearance of the wood determines how it is "graded". All grades are equally strong and serviceable, yet afford the consumer different looks.

Oak and ash have four basic grades.

"Clear" is free of defects though it may have minor imperfections.
"Select" is almost clear, but contains slightly more natural characteristics such as color variations.
"Common" grades (No. 1 and No. 2) have more markings than either clear or select and are often chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room. No. 1 Common has a variegated appearance, light and dark colors, small knots, flags and worm holes. No 2 Common is rustic in appearance and allow all wood characteristics of the species.

Hard maple, beech, birch and pecan have three grades:

"First" grade has the best appearance, natural color variations and limited character marks.
"Second" grade is variegated in appearance with varying sound wood characteristics of species.
"Third" grade is rustic in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species.

Flooring "Cuts"

The angle at which a board is cut makes big differences in how the finished product looks. Wood flooring is either plainsawn, quartersawn or riftsawn. The examples below are based on white oak.


Plainsawn is the most common cut. The board contains more variation than the other two cuts because figure patterns resulting from the growth rings are more conspicuous.


Quartersawn type cutting produces less board feet per log than plainsawing and is therefore more expensive. Quartersawn wood is more dimensionally stable than plainsawn, it twists and cups less and wears more evenly. This type of cut produces the so called "tiger pattern" in the grain. While one can order quartered only, quarter and rift sawn (see below) are often sold together as "rift & quartered".


Riftsawn is similar to quartersawn, but the cut is made at a slightly different angle.