In the last post we talked about log selection and covered the differences between plain sawn, quarter sawn and rift sawn logs in the manufacturing process for solid hardwood. Engineered wood floors are cut using the dry sawn method or processed with the rotary peel or sliced peel method.

Now we'll move into grading. When you're looking at how hardwood flooring is made, grading plays a very important role. Different grades can produce vastly different appearances and may result in varying styles and life spans.

Understanding Different Wood Flooring Grades

Prefinished wood flooring grades are different than unfinished hardwood flooring grades, although you'll spot a similar pattern.

Clear Grade is at the top of the list in both cases. The highest grade possible, this type of wood flooring presents consistent coloring, and is clear of knots, wanes and holes. Clear grade is stable and expensive.

Select and/or Better is next on the grading scale, and looks very similar to clear. When the plank has slightly more discoloration, knots or holes than those in the clear grade category, it's placed in select or better. Many homeowners and commercial landowners choose this grade for the near perfect appearance.

#1 and #2 Common are the next two grades on the scale for prefinished wood floors. Unfinished varieties don't often go below select or better, although country and exclusive grades may be available in domestic woods from the smaller manufacturers.

#1 and #2 Common grades boast a decent strength and fairly attractive appearance, but when compared to a select or clear grade this type of wood has more character and knots when compared to their counterparts.

Those searching for a rough hewn look should ask for cabin grade or shorts, the bottom grades in prefinished wood floors that offer noticeable visual flaws, checking and unfilled holes.

Planing and T&G

Once graded for appearance, hardwood flooring planks are then planed to create a smooth surface on each side of the board. From that point the planed wood is passed through equipment to cut the distinctive tongue and groove shape.

Allowing for tightly fitted flooring that still has room to breathe, wood floors have a tongue on two sides (top or bottom and left or right side) and matching grooves on the others. This allows the planks to fit together during installation.

Click lock engineered wood floors are made by adhering the graded hardwood veneer to a thick foundation of specially fitted plywood. Click lock styles are formed in a similar shape as tongue and groove hardwood, although the tongues click into place and stay there as a result of the distinctive formation.

Finishing touches are the last stage on our journey of discovering how hardwood flooring is made. Tune into the next post for an inside look on how each type of finish is created.