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Updated: Nov 15, 2023

grades of hardwood flooring

Grades of hardwood flooring - I have wanted to do this article for a long time, but as we all know sometimes time is not enough, finally, it is time to talk about a topic that seems extremely important when selecting your new hardwood floor,

My process when I serve my clients is to get to the bottom and find out what their tastes really are, one question I always asked is what grade would you like to see on your hardwood floor?

And this is when I realized that many people do not understand what the grade of wood means and how important it is when choosing a wood floor since we can select the same color in 3 different grades and the final result is totally different.

So Let's understand the grades of hardwood flooring!

Each grade has its own characteristics in appearance, the grade is a way to qualify the appearance of the wood, the grading scales is a measure of the natural characteristics of the wood, eg, color variation, marks, presence of knots, open cracks, mineral streaks, sapwood, etc.

Each wood flooring brand puts its own name to its grades. The most common grades are Prime, Rustic A, Rustic A/B, and Rustic. All these grades have the same durability and the marks they have are not imperfections, it is completely natural, prices change drastically from one grade to another, fewer marks cost more since less wood from the tree is used, placing Prime grade the most expensive and Rustic grade is the most economical since it has more knots, color variation, cracks, etc.

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  • Appearance: Prime grade wood, often referred to as 'Select' or 'First Grade', is characterized by its uniform appearance and minimalistic aesthetic. This grade has very few knots, sapwood, or color variations, providing a clean and consistent look. The grain is straight and even, making it ideal for a sophisticated, elegant interior.

  • Usage: Perfect for modern, minimalist designs where the focus is on simplicity and elegance.

  • Considerations: Prime grade wood can be more expensive due to its rarity and the higher wastage involved in its selection process.


  • Appearance: Rustic A grade wood is known for having more character than Prime grade. It includes more knots and color variation but still maintains a relatively uniform appearance. The knots are small to medium-sized, and the color variations are not overly dramatic.

  • Usage: Suited for spaces where a natural look is desired, but with a controlled, refined rustic charm.

  • Considerations: This grade strikes a balance between rustic and refined, making it versatile for various interior styles.


  • Appearance: A blend of Rustic A and B grades, this wood shows a moderate amount of knots and color variation. The knots are larger than in Rustic A, and the color variation is more pronounced, adding character and warmth to the wood.

  • Usage: Ideal for spaces that aim for a cozy, inviting atmosphere with a more pronounced natural wood feel.

  • Considerations: It offers a middle ground in terms of rustic appearance and is often preferred for its balanced aesthetic.


  • Appearance: The Rustic grade, also known as 'Country' or 'Third Grade', embraces the natural imperfections of wood. It features large knots, significant color variations, and possibly mineral streaks. The grain patterns are varied and prominent, contributing to a strong rustic and natural appeal.

  • Usage: Best for spaces that celebrate the raw, natural beauty of wood, such as country-style homes or vintage-themed interiors.

  • Considerations: While it provides a rich character, the high level of variation can be challenging to balance in certain design contexts. It's generally the most affordable of the grades.

Different grades of hardwood flooring

Like everything in life, the grades of wood are a matter of taste or a particular design style, some people prefer a floor that is uniform in color, that does not have knots, others prefer that charm of wood that has knots, holes, variety of color, as there are also people in between who like a little of everything in moderation.


Prime: the cleanest grade of hardwood flooring

I call this grade the cleanest since it has practically no knots or if it does have them they are very small, it has no cracks or open holes.


Rustic A: Fairly clean grade of hardwood flooring

This grade is fairly clean but not free of knots, no sapwood, cracks, or open holes.


Rustic A/B: the hardwood flooring grade with unlimited knots

This grade has unlimited knots, some color variation, no cracks or sapwood.


Rustic: hardwood grade with most knots & holes

This is the grade that has the most knots, color variation and it also comes with cracks and open holes.

With a natural or light color floor, the differences in grades are more noticeable. With a dark color, much less noticeable.

GRADE: Prime

MATERIAL: European Oak, engineered wood floor

PROJECT: Coral Gables, FL.

Prime grade of hardwood flooring

In the above Picture there is no presence of knots, cracks or holes, this material is a natural color with wire brushed which pronounces more the grains of the wood.

GRADE: Rustic A

MATERIAL: European oak, engineered wood


Rustic A hardwood floor grade example

Some color variation, few knots, no cracks, or holes, this material is a medium natural color with a smooth surface.

GRADE: Rustic A/B

MATERIAL: European Oak, engineered wood.

this is how rustic A/B hardwood flooring grade looks like

Plenty of knots and color variation, plus the band saw texture gives it a more artisanal look for a modern condo in Miami.

GRADE: Rustic

MATERIAL: French Oak, solid wood.

rustic grade of hardwood flooring capture from key biscayne project

This floor features numerous flaws, such as unlimited knots, open cracks, and a non-uniform surface, which creates a more rustic look for a Beach style home in Miami.

To know more about hardwood flooring, we've covered it for you - hardwood flooring guide 2022

Now that you know the difference between the grades of hardwood flooring, I would like to know which one is your favorite or which one will you choose for your project?


Each wood grade offers a unique aesthetic and feel, catering to different design preferences and requirements. Prime grade is about minimalistic elegance, Rustic A adds subtle character, Rustic A/B provides a balanced rustic feel, and Rustic grade celebrates the wood in its most natural and varied form. Your choice should align with the overall design theme of your space and your personal preferences in wood aesthetics.

At VOGUE Parquet, we understand the importance of these nuances and are dedicated to helping our clients choose the right grade that best suits their vision and space.

If you are looking for more durable hardwood floors to enhance your interior then we are open for you anytime. Contact us at 786-606-9301 or email your query at

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Squarefoot Flooring has been a retail leader in the distribution of Flooring products for 10 Years. We currently provide services in Mississauga, Toronto, Brampton, Oakville, Markham, Richmond Hill. Stoney Creek, Niagara Falls. Hamilton, Ancaster, Burlington, Kitchener, Guelph, Sudbury, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa. We excel in providing a quality product in order to make your dream place a reality and have won the title for “Mississauga’s 2019 favorite business. With over 9000+ options for flooring we bring you the largest variety of styles, materials and colors to select tool rentals near me only the best.

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