Wood ‘grade’: in what ways does it affect my floor’s appearance?

Wood ‘grade’: in what ways does it affect my floor’s appearance?

Oak, Wenge, Garapa, Doussie… Various types of wood can be used to create beautiful wooden flooring.

Wood ‘grade’: in what ways does it affect my floor’s appearance?

The grade of a wood used for flooring tells you how carefully the strips have been selected. Whatever wood is chosen, the strips used for the flooring will display natural defects. This is part of wood’s appeal as a refined and elegant, living material. Nevertheless, some of the irregularities that occur in wood are less aesthetically desirable than others. In basic terms, the more care taken in selecting the flooring strips, the less noticeable the natural irregularities, i.e. knots, sapwood, cracks, etc. When we talk about grade, therefore, we are referring to the strictness of the flooring strip selection process at manufacture.Note: the choice of grade does not affect the flooring’s toughness and resistance to wear and tear. These qualities must be clearly indicated by the manufacturer.

Exotic woods

A Grade: The ‘Select’ grade, the highest grade of wood, offering a regular and consistent appearance, free from knots and sapwood.
B Grade: Some natural irregularities are present with this grade, including some sapwood.
C Grade: The ‘Nature’ grade, with natural defects making up a greater proportion of the wood.

European woods: As with exotic woods, a system of classification is used for European woods.

Oak: In the case of oak, the aesthetic quality of flooring strips is also expressed in terms of ‘grade’, and has a significant effect on purchase price:

A GRADE (in accordance with French norm NF B-001).
Has a uniform color and a largely straight grain. 
The solid wood facing is free from defects. A+ is the highest grade of wood in terms of the following:

- Rare, and often expensive
- 30 to 40 % more expensive than A Grade
- No knots
- Straight grain
- No sapwood

Relatively uniform in color, small knots, no sapwood.Allowed on the solid wood facing:

- Sound knots less than 8 mm in size, or 2 mm when occurring in groups
- Unobtrusive burls, non-prominent black knots

No sapwoodAllowed on the backlayer:

- Sound sapwood where it does not affect the center of the wear layer
- All types of defect that do not compromise the installed flooring’s robustness or durability
- Streaks less than 10 mm wide extending over a maximum of 10% of the strip’s total length

Multi-length strips measure:

- Minimum: 35 cm
- Average: >=55 cm
- Fewer than 20% of strips shorter than 45 cm

AB GRADE (in accordance with French norm NF B-001)

AB grade is one of the highest quality oaks. The flooring strips are made from the inner heartwood of the tree. Very small knots and light traces of sapwood are permitted on the face side of the flooring strip.

Allowed on the solid wood facing:
- Knots less than 10 mm in size
- Unobtrusive burls, non-prominent black knots
- No sapwood

Allowed on the backlayer:
- Sound sapwood not affecting the centre of the wear layer
- All types of defect that do not compromise the installed flooring’s robustness or durability
- Streaks less than 10 mm wide extending over a maximum of 10% of the strip’s total length

Multi-length strips measure:
- Minimum: 35 cm
- Average: >=55 cm
- Fewer than 20% of strips shorter than 45 cm

RUSTIC CHOICE (UK) 

Allowed on the solid wood facing:
- All types of knot, defects/imperfections, cracks, burls and worm holes, as well as minor machining imperfections where their size and position do not compromise the installed flooring’s robustness or durability
- No sapwood 

Allowed on the backlayer:
-Sound sapwood not affecting the centre of the wear layer
- All types of defect that do not compromise the installed flooring’s robustness or durability
- Streaks less than 10mm wide extending over a maximum of 10% of the strip’s total length

COUNTRY CHOICE (CA)

Allowed on the solid wood facing:
- All types of knot, defects/imperfections, cracks, burls and worm holes, as well as minor machining imperfections where their size and position do not compromise the installed flooring’s robustness or durability
- No sapwood 

Allowed on the backlayer:
- Sound sapwood not affecting the center of the wear layer
- All types of defect that do not compromise the installed flooring’s robustness or durability
- Streaks less than 10mm wide extending over a maximum of 10% of the strip’s total length 

Multi-length strips measure:
- Minimum: 25 cm
- Average: 45 cm
- Fewer than 25% of strips shorter than 35 cm

CDD GRADE (NA)

Identical to CD grade but unlimited sapwood allowed on the facing.

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