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Wood grains

Wood Selection

Once we have an approved bid and project plan, we begin by ordering the right flooring materials for your job to deliver the desired look, feel, and performance of your flooring.

What to Consider

Together with you, we will discuss important details:

We will also procure other necessary accessories like flush-mount vents. 

Because wood naturally expands and contracts with changes in humidity, we will have the wood delivered to your home to acclimate prior to installation. Wood must be properly acclimatized to reduce warping, cupping, or shrinking after installation.

Wood Species

So many choices...each with its advantages. 

  • Red Oak is one of the most common species used for hardwood flooring. It has a reddish-brown hue, a distinctive grain pattern with wide and prominent rays, and is known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear.

  • White Oak has a neutral light-brown color tighter, a less pronounced grain pattern with smaller rays, and is slightly harder and more dense than red oak. Because of its neutral color—it is absent of 75%-90% of the red undertone in red oak—it is one of the best species to take stain. 

  • Maple is a higher-end, hard and dense wood that is often used in high-traffic areas. It has a light color and a subtle grain pattern and is typically not stained.

  • Cherry is a medium density wood with a warm, reddish-brown color that deepens with age. It has a fine, straight grain and a smooth texture.

  • Brazilian Cherry is a high-end, very dense wood with a rich, reddish-brown color and a distinct grain pattern. It is known for its hardness and durability.

  • Walnut is a rich, dark wood with a straight grain and a smooth texture. It is known for its hardness and durability.

  • Hickory is a hard, durable wood that has a distinctive, rustic appearance. It has a light color and a strong grain pattern and is nearly impossible to stain. 

  • Ash is a light-colored wood with a pale-yellow hue and straight grain pattern. It is of medium hardness and durability.

  • Pine is a softwood with a light color and natural grain pattern that adds warmth and character to a space. It is relatively inexpensive and is often used in historic farmhouses. It is more prone to dents and scratches than hardwoods. 

  • Fir is a softwood with a clear looking appearance. Like pine, it is often used in farmhouses and is less durable than hardwoods. 

  • Bamboo is a grass that is a sustainable alternative to traditional hardwood flooring. It has a unique, striped appearance and is known for its hardness and durability.

  • Cork is made from the bark of the cork oak tree and is a popular eco-friendly option for flooring. It has natural insulation properties, a unique texture and appearance that can add visual interest to a space. It is soft and comfortable underfoot but can be prone to fading and moisture damage if not properly sealed and maintained.

Ultimately the choice comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your project. All wood species have their strengths and can create beautiful, long-lasting flooring.

brazilian cherry floor
Maple floor
White oak

Type of Cut

There are three main types of hardwood flooring board cuts: flat grain, quartersawn, and rift cut. Because each has its own unique appearance and characteristics, it is an important factor to consider when choosing new hardwood flooring or matching an existing floor.

  • Mills start by determining the best way to cut a log to expose as much of the flat grain as possible. Flat grain, also known as plain sawn, is the most common cut for hardwood flooring. At the mill, logs are cut into planks by slicing parallel to the growth rings. This results in planks with a distinctive cathedral or flame pattern. Flat grain has the most obvious grain as shown in the horizontal boards at the bottom of the photo. Because they are easier to produce, flat grain boards tend to be more affordable than the other cuts.

  • After slicing logs to produce flat grain, mills can then rotate logs one quarter turn to get quartersawn. This cut involves slicing the log into quarters and then cutting the planks perpendicular to the growth rings. This produces boards with a straight, uniform grain pattern that is highly resistant to warping and cupping. The boards have a more consistent color and grain throughout and are prized for their dramatic flecks and rays. The unique and striking look of quartersawn boards are shown in the photo on the vertically placed board. Quartersawn boards are more expensive due to the additional labor involved in production and because there is less material produced.

  • Rift cut is a byproduct of the other two cuts. This cut involves slicing the log at a slight angle to the growth rings, producing boards with a tight, straight grain pattern. This cut is the most expensive and time-consuming to produce, but it also is the most stable and durable. Rift cut boards are highly resistant to cupping and warping and have a more uniform appearance than flat grain boards. The look of rift cut boards is shown in the horizontal boards at the top of the photo.

Quarter-sawn wood
rift-sawn wood
Rift cut (top),  flat grain (bottom), quartersawn (vertical)
Flat-grain wood

Flooring Grade

Hardwood flooring grades refer to different levels of quality in the appearance of the wood. The primary differences between grades are the number of knots, mineral streaks, color variations, and other natural characteristics present in the wood. 

  • Select: This grade is the highest quality and clearest grade meaning it has very few pin-sized knots, no mineral streaks, or other imperfections. It has a clear, consistent color and a uniform appearance. It typically comes in longer board lengths.

  • #1: This grade is the middle grade. It has some color variation, smaller sized knots (but not within 4 feet of each other), and some mineral streaking. It has a natural appearance.

  • #2: This grade is a more rustic flooring grade. This grade has more knots, mineral streaks, and other natural imperfections. It has a very rustic appearance with a lot of color variation. 

The grade of the hardwood flooring does affect price, as higher grades are typically more expensive. However, the grade does not affect the durability or strength of the flooring, as all grades are made from the same quality of wood. 

Ultimately, the choice of grade depends on personal preference and the desired look of the flooring, so it’s an important factor when choosing a new floor or matching an existing one.

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