Wood Floor Maintenance

Understanding Wood Flooring Grade

Rob Patwary

Rob Patwary

January 15, 2020

Wood flooring is a layered topic that doesn’t just begin and end with a colour and wood species. There are many specialist terms you will hear when looking for hardwood flooring for your home, one of which will be ‘wood flooring grade’.
It’s important to have a firm understanding on wood grades before you purchase so that you can make an informed decision.

In this blog, we’re going to break down exactly what ‘grade’ means, the different types of wood flooring grade available for your home and which might be best for you.

What are wood flooring grades?

Woods are given a grade by manufacturers according to a number of different features and, generally speaking, the higher the grade the higher the price.

The features that woods are graded on include the number and size of knots (knots are the case of a side branch or a dormant bud around which the grain flows), the amount of sap present (sap are the cells of a tree which transport water and nutrients throughout the tree), and its colour variation.

A wood with smaller knots, lower sap content and uniformity in its colour would fall under a higher wood grade and be deemed ‘better quality’ or more desirable.

However, in reality, no wood grade is essentially better than the other, they just each achieve a different look and feel, which is why it’s important to choose your wood grade based on its appearance rather than simply because it’s a higher grade.

Identifying each grade of wood

There are four types of wood grade starting with the highest which is prime, through to select, natural and rustic, which is the lowest grade.


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This is the highest wood grade and is cut from the centre of the log of wood.
As a result it has few knots, low sap content and minimal colour variation making it uniform in appearance.
It also comes with a high price tag, mainly due to the fact that each tree only contains a limited amount of prime grade wood.


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The next grade, just below prime, is select. It contains a small number of knots, some sap and minor colour variation, yet it’s still considered a highly uniform and consistent wood flooring option.
It’s only a slight step down from prime but could be a better choice if you want that stylish and clean finish without the large expense.


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Third of the list of wood grades is natural, known for its affordability and character (which may be why it’s also often known as the character grade). This grade of wood contains sap, bigger and more visible knots than ‘select’ grade, and it has some colour variation; all of which add to is natural charm and beauty.

This wood grade works best in more traditional looking homes, or in spaces where you want the floor to be a standout feature.


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Finally, there is the lowest wood grade - rustic. It should come as no surprise that this wood has the largest range of colour variation and more knots and sap than the other three grades of wood.
Though this grade is not to everyone’s taste at first glance, it has a lot of potential and has recently become more of a trend with people embracing the ‘farmhouse’, ‘country style’ interior.

This grade of wood certainly looks more traditional, vintage and untouched which lends itself to having a raw beauty about it.

Which grade of wood is best for your home?

Using the above characteristics, you should be able to decipher which wood grade will work best for you and the aesthetic that you would like to achieve.
For example, if you are leaning more towards a more worn and vintage looking room than the rustic grade would be your best option, whereas, if you want something very clean and contemporary then you should stick with select or prime grade.
This is due to the higher grades of wood having a smooth and streamlined finish that lends itself more to modern spaces with a sleek aesthetic whilst the lower wood grades are more ‘rough around the edges’, working best in rooms that have character and charm and aren’t concerned about looking proper and perfect.
They are quite juxtaposing choices, so it should be quite obvious which would work best for your space based on the interior design theme that you have chosen.

Do keep in mind the pricing variation from the lower grades of wood to the higher grades, as financial budgets might also need to be considered when making this decision.

If you would like any more information about prolonging the loft of your wood floors, or if you are interested in any of our products or services then call us today on 0121 684 4772 or email info@innerspaceflooring.co.uk