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Should You Buy Cabin Grade Hardwood Flooring or Factory Seconds?

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    Hardwood flooring is separated into several different categories that will tell you a lot about the quality and the appearance of the wood. The highest grade of hardwood flooring is typically called select grade. Select grade hardwood flooring has a fairly uniform grain pattern, consistent coloring, very few blemishes, and no knots. That makes it the highest grade for flooring and used in some of the nicest floors. However, that uniformity also lacks some character. Furthermore, it will be the most expensive flooring option you can find. However, if you want to save money, you have options. There are several other grades of hardwood flooring. The lowest grade is typically “factory seconds.” There is no standardization to the grades of hardwood flooring, so many producers will conflate “factory seconds” and “cabin grade.”

    What is Cabin Grade?

    Cabin grade is named thus because it was deemed only appropriate for creating the floors of sheds, cabins, and other utilitarian purposes. Therefore, it’s also called utility grade. Utility or cabin grade wood will have several different blemishes, marks, burns, splits, and more. Cabin grade planks are typically much shorter than select grade or higher grades of wood. They’re also going to be in many irregular lengths and widths. You’ll have a hard time finding two boards that look the saem or are the same size. Cabin grade wood will have serious inconsistencies in color as well, even if the wood is all from the same species.

    Trees have several different types of wood that have many different colors. Wood can also become discolored due to factory processes that accidentally burn the wood, applying the wrong stain, or an improperly mixed stain. Furthermore, the wood can become discolored due to mold, mildew, or just moisture; this wood often turns grayish and is called swamp wood.

    What About Factory Seconds?

    Factory seconds are sometimes the same thing as cabin or utility grade. In other cases, factory seconds are even lower grade than cabin grade. Factory seconds will have mismatched colors, swamp wood, factory defects, sander burns, cracks, chips, and severely mis-milled boards. When the two grades are differentiated, the difference is usually that cabin grade wood might be cosmetically inconsistent but it will produce a solid floor. Factory seconds, on the other hand, might not produce a stable floor.

    If you’re choosing factory seconds, you should make sure you order much more than you need. You will likely end up with about 20% waste with cabin grade and even higher waste with factory seconds.

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