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The Essential Guide to Wood Floor Grades and Finishes

Choosing solid wood flooring is not simply a question of popping into the showroom, picking the type of wood you like best and deciding how many floorboards you need. There a number of extra considerations to take into account which we can help you with.  

The grading and finish of your floor can make a huge difference to the way it will look in your home, so it’s important to spend some time learning about the various options that exist and the impact they will have.  

Wood floor grading 

All woods have natural features such as knots, holes, sapwood and colour variations, and it is these features that give the wood its charm and make every floorboard unique. The number of natural features present in each type of floorboard depends on the grade of the wood. The higher the grade, the greater the consistency of colour and the fewer sapwood and knots there will be. Lower grades will have more natural features and greater colour variation. 

Some people think of the grade of the wood as its quality, but that’s a misnomer. It actually tells you how close the wood was to the centre of the log, with higher grades sourced from the centre of the log and lower grades coming from further out.  

Wood flooring grades include:  

  1. Prime grade or AB grade – This is the highest grade of wood flooring available. Colour variation is minimal, as is the presence of knots or sapwood, but it is the most expensive. 
  2. Select or ABC grade – This is another high-grade wood floor, although they will be some sapwood and knots present up to 20mm in size.  
  3. Natural or ABCD grade – Colour variations will be present in this grade of wood, as will sapwood and knots of up to 30mm in size and black resin will be used to fill holes in the wood. 
  4. Rustic or C grade – This type of flooring will have significant colour variations and knots up to 35mm as well as sapwood and black spots from the resin filler.   

Choosing the right grade of wood for your floor will depend on your budget and the look you want to achieve. But as long as you purchase your flooring from a reputable company, any grade of wood will be equally durable in your home.  

Wood floor finishes 

One of the final things you’ll need to think about when buying a wood floor is the finish. This is the semi-translucent layer that’s applied to the floorboards to provide protection from wear and tear and help you achieve a particular look. Wood flooring may come unfinished so you can apply your finish of choice, or pre-finished and ready to install.   

There are three main options when it comes to your finish. That includes: 

  • Lacquer finish – Lacquer sits on the top of the wood, so even matt lacquers will give the appearance that a coating has been applied. However, this does mean that lacquer provides more protection to the floor, although it can become worn in high traffic areas.
     
  • Oil finish – Oil sinks into the wood grain and accentuates the natural appeal of the floor. As it doesn’t create a protective surface over the wood like lacquer, it is more prone to scratching. However, simply adding more oil to the floor will help to mask the imperfections caused by wear and tear.
     
  • UV oil finish – UV oil creates a low gloss finish which can do a better job of covering imperfections than oil. It also protects the floor from damage caused by the sun, which can be invaluable in bright rooms.    

Would you like a little help? 

There’s no wrong or right decision when it comes to choosing the grade and finish of your floor. It’s all down to personal preference and the look and level of protection you want to achieve. If you’d like to discuss your options with an expert, please get in touch for some friendly advice. We also sell a quality range of flooring finishes to suit every taste.    

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