If you’re shopping around for hardwood floors, you may begin to get a little confused about what the hardwood flooring grade means. Why is this? There is no universal grading system for hardwood floors! Many manufacturers will create their own fancy terms to describe their floors. The grade simply describes the look and character of the flooring, stating differences in color variations, grains, lengths and patterns between grades.
Although manufacturers can use their own terms to describe hardwood flooring grades, they’re definitions are based on a common list of terms and definitions set forth by the National Wood Flooring Association.
For pre-finished hardwoods, common grades include:
- Clear Grade: Few variations in color, length, or pattern. It’s considered the best grade for hardwood floors.
- Select and Better: Slightly more knots and patterns exposed, but still very uniform in color and length.
- #1 Common: Slightly more color variation, shorter length, and more patterns.
- #2 Common: Even more color variation, with visible knots and pinholes.
- Cabin Grade: More rustic appeal with unfilled knots and pinholes.
- Shorts: The most unique grade with no two planks looking the same.
If you’re purchasing an unfinished hardwood product, this is the common terminology:
- Clear Grade: Few variations in color or pattern.
- Select and Better: Slightly more variation, but still quite uniform.
- Country or Exclusive Grades: More variation in color and plank length. Also, an increase in pinholes and knots.
- Traditional, Antique, or Character Grades: Natural coloring and patterns visible.
- Tavern or Cabin Grade: Visible character and higher color variation.
The grade will usually only play a factor in your decision based on the look you are looking to achieve. It may also play a factor in price. Use this common system to help compare your choices between different manufacturers!
Interested in learning more about hardwood floors? Check out these articles:
- What is the Janka Rating Scale?
- What is the difference between Solid and Engineered Hardwood Floors?
- What is the most durable hardwood floor out there?