Flooring Grades – What Do They Mean?

Renovating your property is a big task and making sure you get the flooring right is an essential element in the overall outcome. Whether choosing Engineered Wood Flooring or Solid Real Wood Flooring, you will more than likely encounter a number of types of timber, or ‘Flooring Grades’.

No matter whether you’re upgrading an existing property with an elegant renovation or you’re creating a new-build luxury home of your dreams, you will want to make sure you choose a flooring to exactly suit your needs.

When it comes to choosing a wood flooring, the wood used during manufacture is graded according to it’s appearance. This can often be a stumbling block for customers, who often don’t know the difference between each grade or what each option brings to the table.

That is why we wanted to put together a guide on each, to help you fully understand and choose the perfect flooring for you.

Generally speaking, the features taken into account when grading a wood flooring include (but are not limited to);

  • The number & size of knots.
  • The amount of sap present in the wood.
  • Level of variation in colour.

As a rule of thumb, the smaller the knots, the lower the sap content and the more uniform the colour, the higher the grade of wood used and therefore the higher the price.

When deciding which grade is best for your flooring, it is worth noting that there are four grades of wood to choose from and that each grade gives off a slightly different look & feel.

These Grades are known as;

  1. AB Grade (Prime Grade)
  2. ABC Grade (Select Grade)
  3. ABCD Grade (Natural Grade)
  4. CD Grade (Rustic Grade)

To help you differentiate between each and help you make your decision here’s some of the main characteristics of each wood flooring grade;

AB Prime Grade

Prime Grade Timber is the highest grade available in wood flooring. This wood is cut from the centre of the timber log, meaning the wood used is much more uniform in appearance and has very few, if any knots. If the wood does have knots then they are usually very small and unobtrusive. Another feature of prime grade flooring is that the wood is low in sap content, usually no more than 5% of the plank. Lastly, and perhaps the most important point to consider when choosing a prime grade wood flooring is that the colour variation of each plank will be minimal.

In Summary: A floor laid using prime grade wood will have a more uniform, yet natural look.

ABC Select Grade

Select Grade Timber is the next grade available. Also known as ABC grade, this wood contains slightly more knots than AB grade wood and they are often larger in size. In order to be considered an ABC select grade, the knots may be no more than 20mm in size. This wood grade also contains a higher amount of sap, up to 10% of the plank and more overall colour variation between planks.

In Summary: A floor laid using prime grade wood will be slightly less uniform than prime, but still smooth and consistent between planks.

ABCD Natural Grade

Natural Grade Timber is up next. Often described as ABCD grade timber, or mill run timber, this grade contains more knots than both AB prime grade and ABC select grade timber. These knots can be up to a maximum of 30mm in size, containing a more sap than the retrospective grades. Manufacturers of ABCD grade flooring will often use a coloured wood filler on this  timber, filling in any holes or imperfections which are a natural feature of the wood.

In Summary:  A floor laid using natural grade wood will be less uniform than the aforementioned grades but will still be relatively consistent with a smooth overall look.

CD Rustic Grade

Rustic Grade Timber is the final grade available for real wood flooring. Also known as CD grade timber, this grade of wood offers a wider colour variation between the planks and contains a higher quantity of sap and knots of up to 35mm in size. As the name suggests, this grade of wood gives a more rustic, provincial timber feel. As with natural grade timber any holes or imperfections are filled using wood filler, which again results in a smooth finish, but with a much more varied overall look between planks.

In Summary:  A floor laid using rustic grade wood will be much less uniform than other available grades, but will suit those applications where a true to life natural feel is necessary.

Hopefully this has helped to outline the main differences in wood grades, which should help you to further ensure that you get the exact floor you are looking for. If you have any further questions on any thing Flooring related (Or any other product on our website!), then please visit the Contact Us page and get in touch!

Many Thanks,

Leader Floors

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