The appearance of the wood determines its “grade.” All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each affords you a different look.
Clear wood is free of defects, though it may have minor imperfections.
Select wood is almost clear, but contains some natural characteristics such as knots and color variations.
Common wood (No. 1 and No. 2) has more natural characteristics such as knots and color variations than either clear or select grades, and often is chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room. No. 1 Common has a variegated appearance, light and dark colors, knots, flags and wormholes. No. 2 Common is rustic in appearance and emphasize all wood characteristics of the species.
First grade wood has the best appearance, natural color variations and limited character marks.
Second grade wood is variegated in appearance with varying sound wood characteristics of species.
Third grade wood is rustic in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species.
The angle at which a board is cut determines how the finished product looks. Wood flooring is either plainsawn quartersawn or riftsawn:
Plainsawn is the most common cut. The board contains more variation than the other two cuts because grain patterns resulting from the growth rings are more obvious.
Quartersawing produces less board feet per log than plainsawing and is therefore more expensive. Quartersawn wood twists and cups less and wears more evenly which is why it is recommended to be used when there is a floor heating system.
Riftsawn is similar to quartersawing, but the cut is made at a slightly different angle. It is also recommended to be used with a floor heating system.