Hardwood floors come in a wide-variety of options that extend past color, texture and species choices. Although most hardwoods have similar durability ratings, they vary greatly in terms of look. The aesthetics of hardwood floors are classified using a Character Scale. The character grade or rating of a floor is based on it’s natural characteristics, like color, mineral streaks and knots.
Hardwood floors are broken down into three grades: Select, #1 Common and #2 Common. None of the hardwood floor grades are better than the other in terms of quality, rather the hardwood floors are sorted based on their appearance. This characterization simply makes the hardwood selection process easier for consumers.
Now that you understand what hardwood flooring grades are, let’s dive into the differences between the three!
Select hardwood floors are called Select for a reason; these hardwood floors are carefully chosen for their uniform look and lack of imperfections. With Select grade hardwood floors, you will find the planks all have a similar color and uniform lengths. Additionally, Select hardwood floors won’t have a lot of knots, flaws or character markings; in fact, to be classified as “Select” only small knots are permitted every three feet.
Although you will get a smooth, consistent look with Select hardwood floors, they don’t come cheap; because the floors have so many desirable qualities, they come at a premium price. However, if true uniformity is important to you, you will have to budget for Select grade floors.
Grade: #1 Common
Cheaper than Select floors and with more aesthetic variations, #1 Common floors are labeled appropriately. This flooring grade will have color discrepancies from plank to plank, and have natural imperfections like knots and holes. Unlike the equal length you will find between Select hardwood planks, #1 Common plank lengths will vary.
Grade #2 Common
#2 Common floors are the cheapest of the three wood flooring grades because they have the most inconsistencies. Often referred to as “rustic grade”, #2 Common floors will have great color and length variations from board to board. You will also see an abundance of mineral streaks, holes, and knots.
Like we mentioned above, although hardwood floors are “graded”, a lower grade doesn’t mean lower quality, it simply means it will have more character flaws. Selecting a hardwood floor grade is entirely dependent on your personal style and budget.
To summarize, if you’re looking for a consistent, modern look, Select hardwood floors are going to be your best bet, but you will have to make sure your budget has room for the expense. If you’re not quite as picky about consistency, #1 Common floors should finish your project nicely at a fair price. #2 Common floors should be selected if you’re looking for a rustic look, or want to finish your flooring project at the cheapest price.
No matter which flooring grade is the best fit for your project, our hardwood experts are available to answer any questions you may have!