Hardwood Flooring Grades

Picture of Joshua Crossman

Joshua Crossman

Owner of PTL Flooring LLC

Hardwood floors typically come in different grades.  Which provide consistency to the look of the floor.  Appearance alone determines the grades of hardwood flooring since all grades are to be equally strong and serviceable in any application.

Choosing a lower grade of flooring doesn’t mean you are getting an inferior product, it just changes the look of the floor.  One of the best ways to save money on a new hardwood floor installation is after you find the color of floor you like try a lower grade.  This point alone could save you $.50-$1.00 sq ft.

(Note: Characters applied to a higher grade may appear in lower grades)

Oak, one of the most popular woods for floors, typically comes in 4 different grades.  Clear, Select & Better, No. 1 common, No. 2 common.  You can also get it in Quarter/Rift Sawn in the different grades which produces a tighter grain pattern and a more stable product.  You can read my post about Rift and Quarter Sawn here.

A Clear grade produces the most uniformity in appearance.  Most people do not choose this because the cost is the highest of the grades and there is very little differences between the boards.  “Looks fake” is the most common comment.  Select Oak is a flooring product with color variations produced by differences of natural heartwood and sapwood.  May contain a small tight knot every 3′, pin worm holes, slight imperfections in the milling, and a few checks.  No. 1 Common is a very popular choice, it offers a reasonable price with a beautiful look that doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of board variance.   You’ll get varying colors and characteristics. No. 2 Common Oak may contain sound natural variations of the forest product and manufacturing imperfections.  This is a great choice for those who want a sound floor with the most variety of character and color variations, and it offers a better value for cost.

Different species of wood have different grades to them such as Maple is graded by: First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Second & Better, Third & Better.

If you come across Mill Run this means the mill will take lumber of a certain grade turn it into flooring.  Instead of separating the flooring into different grades such as clear, select, common, the flooring is a mix of grades.  This typically will produce a longer than average board length and is more economical to produce.  Only boards with a manufacturing defect or unsound will be rejected.   This is my favorite because I like the long lengths and the variety of boards you get.

Plank flooring and Pre-Finished flooring generally have proprietary grades set by the manufacturer.

It is important to remember that wood is a natural product of nature and no two boards will be the same.  It’s wood and will have natural characteristics that pertain to a natural product.

Mill run is my favorite grade what is yours?

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