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Flooring grades explained


Flooring grades explained

The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) is the recognized representative in the wood flooring industry. They along with National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association (NOFMA) set the industry standards and help create consistency in the quality of flooring in the United States. The grading system they have put together gives the customer an indicator of what they can expect from the face of the board from the grade they choose to install.
Hardwood flooring grades

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No. 3 common oak

Also known as cabin grade is a great budget-friendly material with very high degree of color variation from board to board, large knots, open hole knots, as well as pocket knots. Large mineral streaks throughout the material. Some boards will have broken tongue & grooves, cracks on the ends. Best used in homes with a rustic feel, and looks best hand scraped with darker colored stains. OaKline Floors specializes in #3 floors and the installation of them. We are the largest purchaser of #3 flooring in the US and have extensive experience of designing aesthetically beautiful floors, OaKline is an expert in installing this grade of flooring. We have installed over 2.5 Million square feet of #3 flooring and 360,000 in 2019 alone. This grade of flooring gives our customers the opportunity to have a solid hardwood floor at a fraction of the price.
Contains sound natural and manufacturing variations including knot holes, open worm holes, and other open characters along with prominent color variations. Manufacturing variations include drying characters and machining irregularities. No. 2 Common is most desirable for applications where numerous notable character marks and prominent color contrast is desired. This option is perfect for the modern farmhouse design.

No. 2 common oak


No. 1 common oak

A flooring product characterized by prominent color variation that also contains prominent characters (with size limits) such as knots, open checks, worm holes, along with machining and drying variations. No. 1 Common is a tasteful floor where prominent variation is expected. Perfect for any stain color. This option looks best with a light hand scrape or smooth finish.
Contains all the variations in coloration produced by the contrasting differences of heartwood and sapwood. Also included are minimal character marks, such as small knots, worm holes, and mineral streaks, as well as slightly open characters. The combination creates a floor where the light sapwood and dark heartwood are combined with small characters and other small color interruptions. Much like the clear-cut option, select oak is beautiful when flat sanded in modern and contemporary designs.

Select oak


Clear oak

A mostly heartwood flooring product that allows all the natural heartwood color variations with minimal character marks and limited color variation. This combination features the infinitely variable grain patterns with the minimal distraction from character marks and color variation. This cut is gorgeous when flat sanded and left natural or tinted with a lighter color stain.
Wide variation in both color & natural characters consisting of a mixture of all grades, allowing for a floor with longer planks. Purpose is to draw focus away from floor down to the individual planks’ characteristics. Boards lengths range from 2’-10’ Stunning with lighter colors in contemporary homes

Euro character


Rift & quartered

Rift and quartered lumber, although sawn slightly differently, are usually manufactured together as compliments of one another. Rift sawn lumber, also known as straight grain, is cut at the sawmill with the grains intersecting the face of the board at an angle between 30 and 60 degrees and quarter sawn lumber is cut with the grains intersecting the face board the board at an angle between 60 and 90 degrees. Both of these sawing techniques produce boards with a straight or linear grain pattern throughout the board. Lighter colors with either a flat sand or light hand scrape helps to highlight the linear grain patterns.

Standard board length guidelines

The standard board length guidelines are provided by associations like NOFMA and NWFA. For the width of a board less than three inches, the average board length of Clear grade is 36 inches, Select grade is 33 inches, Common #1 is 30 inches, and Common #2 is 24 inches. For the width of a board from 3 to 5 inches, the average board length of Clear grade is 36 inches, Select grade is 32 inches, Common #1 is 28 inches, and Common #2 is 24 inches.

Go ahead with whatever suits you

Multiple factors can affect someone’s choice while deciding on a hardwood grade. Every grade has its benefits, depending on the look you are going for, along with your budget will greatly determine the grade of flooring you should choose. Are you finding it difficult to choose the best grade wood for your flooring options? Don’t worry at all; OaKline has it all covered for you. Just contact us, and we will give you a proper guideline about your flooring options and its installation services.