Deciding on oak flooring grade is a decision faced by many flooring buyers. Whether you have chosen to fit solid flooring or engineered flooring, if the floorboard is made from Oak (in the case of solid) or using Oak (in the case of engineered), you will need to decide on a suitable grade. Grade represents the visual decorative side of the wood. Contrary to some myths, the decision to choose one grade over the other will not determine the service life of the wood; it is simply an indication of how refine the wood is. Service life will be determined by the overall quality of the floor, how well it is maintained and how suitable it is for the property.
There are four oak flooring grades. The higher the grade is, the more ‘polished’ the wood is and consequently the more it would cost. Your decision to prefer one grade to the other is completely subjective and based on your interior design taste and of course your available budget to spend. The four grades are:
Prime Grade OR AB Grade
Prime is the highest grade and the most expensive grade. It is refined to such as degree that knots are very few in between and the floorboards will match one another in terms of colour variation and shade. Its uniform looks arrive from the way in which the wood is cut. Unlike other grades, the wood is cut from the middle of the log that also contributed to a very slow ratio of sap.
Select Grade OR ABC Grade
As we go down from prime grade, floorboards will posses more knots and an increasing amount of colour variation between the floorboards. However, in the case of select grade, you are still looking at a uniform look, though to a lesser extent. In this grade of oak, knots of up to 20mm are common and some colour variations between the floorboards.
Natural Grade OR ABCD Grade
From here on, colour variations between the floorboards are more common and so are larger knots of 30mm. But don’t be fooled, this is an exceptionally popular grade of oak wood because of its price tag and more so because the slight difference is colour give the floor a real character.
Rustic Grade OR CD Grade
Also known as country or rural look, variations between the floorboards are very common and so are knots of 35mm. As you have gathered by now, rustic are the most affordable grade of oak and unsurprisingly the most popular. The same features that make this grade more affordable (knots and colour variations) also give the floor an unmatched character and a wood with a real attitude.
Choosing oak for your wood flooring is a safe way to ensure durability of the wood. Your decision to choose one grade instead of the other is purely individual.
Oak Flooring Grades Comparison
|Prime Grade (AB Grade)
|Select Grade (ABC Grade)
|Natural Grade (ABCD Grade)
|Rustic Grade (CD Grade)
|Few knots, matching floorboards in terms of colour variation and shade
|More knots and increasing amount of colour variation between floorboards
|Colour variations between floorboards are common, larger knots of up to 30mm
|Variations between floorboards and knots of up to 35mm are very common
|Cut of Wood
|Wood is cut from the middle of the log, contributing to a very slow ratio of sap
|Varies, but still maintains a somewhat uniform look
|Varies, with a tendency towards non-uniformity
|Varies, with a tendency towards non-uniformity, giving it a rural look
|Most expensive grade due to its refinement
|Lesser expensive than Prime grade, yet still has a uniform look
|More affordable due to its common colour variations and larger knots
|Most affordable due to its common knots and colour variations
|Interiors needing highly refined and uniform flooring
|Interiors that prefer slight variations and character in flooring
|Interiors that prefer character and variation in flooring
|Interiors looking for a more rural or country look
1. What does the term ‘grade’ mean when choosing oak flooring?
Grade represents the visual decorative side of the wood. The decision to choose one grade over the other doesn’t determine the service life of the wood; it is an indication of how refined the wood is. Service life is determined by the overall quality of the floor, its maintenance, and how suitable it is for the property.
2. What is Prime Grade or AB Grade oak flooring?
Prime Grade or AB Grade is the highest and most expensive grade. It is refined to a degree where knots are very few and the floorboards match one another in terms of colour variation and shade. The uniform look comes from the way the wood is cut from the middle of the log, contributing to a very low ratio of sap.
3. What is Select Grade or ABC Grade oak flooring?
Select Grade or ABC Grade oak flooring has more knots and an increasing amount of colour variation between the floorboards compared to Prime Grade. However, it still maintains a uniform look, albeit to a lesser extent. Knots of up to 20mm are common in this grade.
4. How is Natural Grade or ABCD Grade oak flooring characterized?
Natural Grade or ABCD Grade oak flooring often has colour variations between the floorboards and larger knots of up to 30mm. This grade is exceptionally popular due to its price tag and the slight colour differences that give the floor real character.
5. What are the characteristics of Rustic Grade or CD Grade oak flooring?
Also known as country or rural look, Rustic Grade or CD Grade oak flooring commonly has variations between the floorboards and knots of up to 35mm. This grade is the most affordable and most popular due to the same features that make it affordable – knots and color variations – which also give the floor an unmatched character.