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Wood Flooring Grades Explained

What to expect from Prime, Select, Character and Rustic Hardwood Flooring Grades

Havwoods’ wood flooring is sourced from many different countries, each with different grading rules and industry standards. To make it easier for you, we have established our own definitions. And, since oak is by far the most popular species, we use this as an example of what you can expect when you buy wooden flooring from ourselves.

We show what is likely to be typical in terms of the knot sizes, sapwood and other characteristics of the raw material. Please remember that, since they are usually selected by eye, there is always scope for an occasional board to fall outside of these parameters. Part of the beauty of wood is that each and every plank is unique, so our criteria is merely a guide, given in good faith and to the best of our knowledge. Should you wish to discuss with us please get in touch!

 

PRIME GRADE

Typically, prime grade has few, if any knots, and these will be of minimal size. There will also be a minimal amount of sapwood and filler, if any at all. Where filler is used its colour is carefully selected to complement the wood rather than to match it exactly, and the colour of the filler may vary from batch to batch. There will be a relatively small amount of colour variation in the timber itself.

 

SELECT/CLASSIC GRADE

Typically, this grade will have a mix of almost prime boards with other planks which have more knots of a limited size. Expect some variation in tone from heartwood and sapwood as well as small checks (cracks across the growth ring). There will be some filled elements, such as broken knots. The colour of the filler is intended to complement the natural structure of the wood, where features such as knots are in contrast to the surrounding timber, and it may vary from batch to batch. Please refer to our full range of products to see examples.

 

CHARACTER GRADE

Typically, character grade will include both heartwood and sapwood and allows a wider range of colour variation. Knots are larger and you should expect checks (cracks across the growth ring) and possibly some end shake (cracks between the rings). The colour of the filler is intended to complement the natural structure of the wood, where features such as knots are in contrast to the surrounding timber, and it may vary from batch to batch. Discover different Havwoods ranges of products here.

 

NATURAL/RUSTIC GRADE

Known as either natural or rustic grade this allows a virtually limitless size and number of knots. Heartwood will be used, there will be colour variation, sapwood and filler; you should also expect checks (cracks across the growth ring) and possibly some end shake (cracks between the rings). The colour of the filler is intended to complement the natural structure of the wood, where features such as knots are in contrast to the surrounding timber, and it may vary from batch to batch.

SAPWOOD

Sapwood is the living part of the tree through which water and sap flow. It tends to be lighter in colour than the heartwood, and certain fuming, smoking and colouring processes emphasise it since it doesn’t react to these treatments to the same degree. By definition sapwood contains more moisture, however this is no cause for concern since all Havwoods’ timber has been carefully dried and its stability is ensured when supplied in an engineered form.

KNOTS AND FILLERS

A knot is either the base of a side branch or a dormant bud around which the grain flows. A knot is sometimes replaced by filler and this may be of various colours: white, grey, brown and black are shown here.

MEDULLARY RAYS, CHECKS AND SHAKES

These white, ribbon-like medullary rays are an indication that the plank has been crafted from quarter-sawn timber. Checks and shakes usually occur at the end of a board and may be cut off.


If you have any questions on any of the above information then please do not hesitate in contacting Havwoods.

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