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Understanding Character Grading in Wood Flooring

At Forté Flooring, we source products from many different countries, each having different character make-up due to its growing climate. Since oak is by far the most popular species, we use this as our primary example of the different grades available, whether the floor requires a minimal character, or a beautiful rustic country character with fine knots and heart cracks.

European Oak- Prime/Bis Grade  €€€

Prime grade flooring refers to a high-quality grade of hardwood flooring that is known for its exceptional visual appearance and minimal natural imperfections. It is typically made from the finest cuts of hardwood lumber and is selected for its consistent color, grain pattern, and overall quality.


Prime grade flooring is characterized by its clean and uniform appearance, with a minimal presence of knots, mineral streaks, and other natural blemishes. The boards are usually cut from the center of the tree, where the wood is more consistent in color and texture.

This grade of flooring is highly sought after for its elegant and sophisticated look. It provides a sleek, modern aesthetic and creates a sense of luxury in interior spaces. Prime grade flooring is often used in high-end residential and commercial settings where a premium, flawless appearance is desired.


It's worth noting that grading systems may vary slightly depending on the region and manufacturer, so it's always recommended to check with the specific flooring supplier to understand the exact criteria and specifications for prime grade flooring in a particular context.

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European Oak- Select Grade  €€

Select grade wood flooring typically refers to high-quality hardwood flooring that has minimal natural characteristics such as knots, mineral streaks, and color variations. The key makeup of select grade wood flooring includes:

  1. Wood Species: Select grade wood flooring can be made from various hardwood species such as oak, maple, cherry, walnut, or hickory. Each species has its unique grain patterns, hardness, and color variations.

  2. Appearance: Select grade wood flooring is known for its clean, uniform appearance. It has a consistent color tone and a smooth surface without prominent knots or mineral streaks.

  3. Color Variation: Select grade flooring tends to have minimal color variation, providing a more uniform look throughout the installation. However, some natural color variations can still be present, as wood is a natural material.

  4. Minimal Knots: Select grade flooring is typically characterized by the absence of large knots. While small knots may occasionally be present, they are usually small and tight, adding to the natural beauty of the wood without being overly conspicuous.

  5. Minimal Character Marks: This grade of wood flooring aims to minimize character marks such as mineral streaks, sapwood, and grain variations. It emphasizes a clean, elegant appearance that showcases the natural beauty of the wood without distractions.

  6. Length and Width: Select grade wood flooring often features long and wide planks, adding to the overall visual appeal. Longer planks can create a sense of spaciousness and continuity, while wider planks can enhance the natural beauty of the wood grain.

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European Oak- Rustic/Country Grade

Rustic or country grade flooring refers to a specific grade or quality of hardwood flooring that has a more natural and rustic appearance. It is also known as character grade or cabin grade flooring. This type of flooring is sought after for its unique charm and rustic aesthetic.

Rustic grade flooring is typically made from solid hardwood and is known for its visible knots, mineral streaks, color variations, and other natural imperfections. These imperfections occur naturally in the wood and give the flooring a more authentic and weathered look. It showcases the natural beauty of the wood and adds character to the overall appearance of the floor.


Due to the presence of knots, mineral streaks, and color variations, rustic grade flooring can have a more varied and less uniform appearance compared to other grades of hardwood flooring. It can range from lighter to darker shades, and the natural imperfections can vary from mild to more pronounced, depending on the specific product.

Rustic grade flooring is often chosen for homes or spaces where a more relaxed, informal, or vintage atmosphere is desired. It can complement various interior styles, such as country, farmhouse, cottage, or rustic-themed designs. It provides a warm and inviting feel to a room and can create a sense of nostalgia or a connection to nature.


It's important to note that rustic grade flooring may require more maintenance compared to higher-grade options, as the natural imperfections can be more prone to wear and tear. However, some homeowners find that the natural character and unique look of rustic grade flooring make any imperfections part of its appeal.

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