When looking at hardwood flooring you may have heard talk about grades. Hardwood flooring is graded based on the characteristics present in the wood. Red oak has its own specific rules for grading, we will explain the difference in all the grades below. Some grades have more than one name for the same level which can be confusing. Your hardwood installer should know which of the different grades will work for your design tastes!
Clear- The highest grade of red oak is the clear grain. Clear grade wood is cut and harvested from the heartwood or innermost wood of the tree. Knots, wormholes and color variations are at the absolute minimum or are non existent in this grade of wood. Graining is prominent and gives the wood a clean overall look. These pieces are picked carefully by the mill and all the elements of the milling process are done precisely.
Select and Better– Select and better wood is milled from the sapwood. These bundles often include some clear pieces. There are essentially no knots or wormholes but there are some present. Graining appearance is strong and there is a slight color variation between the heartwood and sapwood. You typically do not need to use wood filler or wood putty in these grades.
Number One Common– No. 1 Common has more variation and discrepancies than the other gradings. There are knots and wormholes but not an excessive amount. There is also color variation and the color is not as uniform as the clear of select gradings. There will be lighter and darker boards and even a combination of colors on the same board.
Number Two Common– No. 2 Common has a lot of light and dark color variations from the use of both heartwood and sapwood. There are a lot of worm holes and knots and the floor may have a more rustic appearance.
Number three common and shorts are two additional grading types but are generally not recommended.
The grading of the floor will not affect the overall quality of your floor. These gradings are just related to the aesthetics of the food and do not affect the hardness of the wood. You may see some difference in the milling but not the overall hardness or quality. With proper care (hardwood cleaning) and maintenance any grade of red oak will last a lifetime.