What is Select Grade Flooring? Houston

When you buy new oak flooring for your house, you may hear the flooring referred to as “select”. The word “select” seems to imply that the flooring is high quality. And it probably is. But while the select flooring that you have purchased is likely high quality flooring, the word select refers not to the quality, but to the grade. (click above to see our home page and other company info)

The appearance of a piece of wood flooring is referred to by grade. Oak flooring grades, as sanctioned by the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association (NOFMA), are as follows: clear, select, number 1 common, and number 2 common. All grades of solid oak flooring are high quality in that they are all milled to the same standard, i.e.; they are all solid oak, all ¾” thick (although the face-width can vary), and all milled with a tongue on one side and a groove on the other side (thus the term “tongue & groove”).
Since all grades are milled the same, the difference in the grades is the appearance.

Clear Grade. Clear grade solid oak has a minimum amount of open grain, therefore each piece has more straight grain, or vertical grain (meaning the grain lines on each piece appear to run from one end of the piece to the other, as opposed to across the piece). A floor constructed of all clear grade oak will thus have a more uniform appearance than a floor constructed of another grade oak.

Select Grade. Select grade oak has an abundance of open grain, thus each flooring piece will have plenty of swirls and burls so often associated with oak flooring. Select grade oak is by far the most commonly used solid oak flooring. Many if not most builders who use solid oak flooring in a newly constructed home will use select grade, and if you have solid oak flooring in your home, chances are that it is select grade.

Number 1 Common Grade. Number 1 common also has the open grain and swirls and curls as does select grade, but has more dark areas, in which the grain appears to be squeezed, and more dark steaks and spots, and small worm holes, providing for more variation in color. Many would say that a number 1 common floor has more “character”, and many homeowners, if they are given the option, would actually prefer a number 1 common grade oak floor.

Number 2 Common Grade. Again, number 2 common has the open grain of select flooring, and has the dark areas and streaks of number 1, but number 2 is actually likely to have small open knot holes, as well as edges in places that are grooved out and dark, much like most of us have seen on a standard pine 2 x 4 piece of lumber. Number 2 common oak flooring is occasionally referred to by retailers as “rustic”, or “cabin grade”, but the sanctioned grade is number 2 common.

One last note: all of the above grades are “plain-sawn” flooring, referring to the method that the individual boards are cut from the log. Another method of cutting flooring from logs is to quarter-cut the log, thus producing “quarter-sawn” flooring. Although quarter-sawn flooring is often referred to as being the highest grade of solid oak flooring, it actually is not a grade of flooring but is cut differently from the log. The difference in plain-sawn flooring and quarter-sawn flooring will be the subject of a future article on this website.

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