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What Do Wood Flooring Grades Mean?

While you’re browsing our flooring collections at Leader Floors, you’ll find that our solid wood flooring is categorised by flooring grades. While all those letters and names can look confusing at first, flooring grades are actually pretty simple. When wood flooring is made, it’s graded by the manufacturer depending on its appearance.

What Characteristics Define Flooring Grades?

When the manufacturer looks at a piece of wood flooring, they’ll look at:

1. Number of knots  |  2. Size of the knots  |  3. Colour variations  |  4. Sap content


The highest grade of wood is likely to have small if next to no knots, giving it a very uniform appearance and colour. The more knotted and varied the wood, the lower the grade. There are four grades in total:

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


Let’s take a closer look at what those grades mean so you understand exactly what you’re buying:



This is the highest grade of wood flooring (and therefore generally the most expensive. You may find that industry experts refer to this as AB high grade. This wood flooring is cut right from the centre of the log, which means that the wood grade is very uniform in appearance and colour, with very few knots to be seen. If there are any knots, they’ll likely be very small and quite faint in colour.


Why Choose Prime Grade Flooring?

If you’re looking for wood flooring that’s very uniform in appearance but still gives you that natural wood effect, prime grade is the wood flooring grade for you.



This wood flooring grade is the next step down from prime grade and can often be referred to as ABC grade, or Classic grade. While it contains a few more variations than prime grade, select grade wood flooring is still largely uniform in appearance with moderate colour variation which give it a more natural appearance. It’s the cleanest grade of flooring as it’s free from sapwood.


Why Choose Select Grade Flooring?

This flooring type is great for those looking for a fairly even colouration from their flooring but may be on a tighter budget. Select grade flooring works great in contemporary homes to create a clean, minimalist style appearance.



Otherwise known as mill run or ABCD grade flooring, natural grade flooring has plenty of knots and colour variation to show off. Natural grade flooring sometimes has holes in, so you’ll often find that the manufacturer uses a colour wood filler on any natural holes to give you that smooth appearance.


Why Choose Natural Grade Flooring?

Perfect for creating a slightly more traditional look in the home, natural grade flooring will conjure up a cosy atmosphere with its warm and varied colouration and natural knots.



The final grade of wood flooring, rustic grade flooring (otherwise known as CD grade) is the most natural looking of all the flooring types. It has the largest range of colour variation and will have plenty of knots and natural grooves - again filled in with natural wood filler for a smooth yet rustic appearance.


Why Choose Rustic Grade Flooring?

As the name suggests, this flooring is right at home in a rustic, farmhouse styled room.

What Are Laminate Flooring Grades?

Perhaps you’re not looking for real wood flooring? If you’ve been browsing our laminate flooring collection, you may have noticed that laminate comes with an AC rating. AC means abrasion class rating, what this means is that the laminate flooring has been graded to a certain standard via the Abrasion Rating System.


The ARS system means that your laminate flooring has been through a series of tests that monitor resistance against impact, burns, stains and swelling. Once the results are in, the laminate flooring will be assigned one of the following ratings:

1. AC1 - appropriate for residential areas with light traffic (eg. bedrooms)

2. AC2 - may withstand moderate traffic in a residential area (eg. living & dining rooms)

3. AC3 - can withstand heavy residential traffic and light workplace traffic (eg. hallways)

4. AC4 - designed to be used in commercial areas with moderate traffic (eg. small shops & offices)

5. AC5 - a rough finish that can withstand high traffic commercial areas (eg. office buildings & shopping centres)


At Leader Floors, we want you to get the longest use out of your laminate flooring, so all of our laminate is available in AC3 to AC5.


If you have any further questions about flooring grades available at Leader Floors and which may be better suited to your home or commercial space, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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