Wood Flooring FAQs

Browse through some commonly asked questions related to flooring.

Wood flooring grades are determined based on the physical characteristics of the wood. All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each has a different appearance.

Clear Grade

wood flooring grade - clear grade

A mostly heartwood flooring product with minimal character marks and color variation. This combination features the infinitely variable grain patterns with the minimal distraction from character marks and color variation. Clear grade means that all the natural marking in the wood have been cut out and removed. Clear grade boards therefore produce the cleanest looking flooring. In the reclaimed woods, there will be very few small nail holes and zero bolt holes in the wood. This grade of wood is often used in minimalist designs and contemporary spaces.

Select Grade ( Number 1 and better )

wood flooring grade - Select Grade (Number 1 and better)

Contains all the variations in coloration produced by the differences of heartwood and sapwood. Also included are minimal character marks such as very small, closed knots and mineral streaks.

Select grade is a common grade for many wood floors and wood walls. In the reclaimed woods, there will be small tight knots, minimal nail holes and zero bolt holes in the wood.

Character Grade ( Number 2 and better )

Wood flooring grade - Character Grade (Number 2 and better)

A flooring product characterized by color variation that also contains prominent characters such as knots, open checks, worm holes, along with marks from machining. Character grade is a floor where prominent variation is expected.

Character grade is a very popular grade of wood flooring as it has a good balance of natural markings in each board. This grade will include mixed grains and more unique grain patterns. Knots are common throughout the boards and any holes are considered fillable. There will be check marks and other natural marks throughout. In the reclaimed woods, there will be nail holes and small bolt holes in the wood.

Rustic Grade ( Number 2 and number 3 )

Wood flooring grade - Rustic Grade (Number 2 and number 3)

Contains natural and manufacturing characteristics, including knots, open worm holes, other open characters along with color variations and marks from machining. Rustic grade flooring is perfect for applications where numerous notable character marks and prominent color contrasts are desired.

In the reclaimed woods, there will be nail holes and bolt holes in this grade flooring.


Because of the random growth of trees there are multiple grades of wood in each piece of lumber before it is cut and milled. To get a select grade floor you must “defect” the wood, which means to cut out the areas that do not make the grade. As you move on the scale towards the rustic grades you do not need to cut as much out, leaving more wood for longer length and wider width boards. If you are staining the wood, the more select grades will tend to give you a more even color. The grading of the wood does not affect the durability or strength though, it is simply a visual aspect. Because less wood must be defected to make the grade, the price will tend to decrease  with the more character you leave in the boards.

Sometimes the flooring  you need does not fit exactly into one of these categories. If this is the case let us know, we can customize almost all aspects of your flooring.

The type of wood cut is determined by the angle at which a board is cut from the log.

There are four commonly used cuts of wood: Plain sawn, Quarter sawn, Live sawn and Rift Sawn. Each of these cuts produces a plank of different appearance. Lets lake a look..

Plain Sawn: The most commonly used cut is plain sawn. The log is squared and sawed lengthwise by parallel cuts. The growth rings appear as straight lines on the board, joining at the end to form a parabola. Because of this appearance, plain sawn boards are often considered the most appealing of the cuts. These planks are ideal for floors, tables or furniture. Plain sawn planks are usually the least expensive planks as their production leaves very little waste.

Quarter Sawn: Quarter sawn planks are produced by cutting a log into quarters and then making parallel cuts, perpendicular to the tree’s growth rings. The grain in quarter sawn wood is more consistent and the growth rings will be at a 60 to 90 degree angle in the plank. This method makes quarter sawn boards less likely to cup, warp or twist.

Rift Sawn: In this cutting method the log is quartered and then cut. As the cuts get closer to the outside of the log the angle of the grain changes to 30-60 degrees. This cut makes an easy to match board for a uniform appearance of your surface.

Live sawn: Live Sawing is straight cutting the log from the outside diameter through the heartwood. The boards incorporate the full range of the log’s characteristics resulting in a unique mix of clear and natural grades with grain direction varying from plain sawn to rift & quartered sawn.

different cuts of wood

The Janka wood hardness test measures the resistance of a wood sample to denting and wear.

Specifically, the Janka scale measures the force required to embed an 11.2 millimeter (0.444 inch) diameter ball halfway into a wood sample. A common use of Janka hardness rating is to determine whether a species is suitable for use as wood flooring.

Janka wood hardness scale

Mission Hardwood Floor Co. can craft a floor for you from almost any wood species. See how it will hold up on the Janka scale.



Giving your hardwood floors a good dusting with a microfiber mop or cloth works great for a quick clean. Using a broom is effective as well.


Using a vacuum with a brush head is perfect for your hardwood floor. You can also lightly mist your floor with a hardwood floor cleaner and use a mop to give the hardwood a great clean. A gentle touch is one of the best ways to clean your hardwood floor.


Polishing your hardwood floor every few months is a great way to renew and refresh the finish. Polishing your floors fills in the microscopic scratches and evens out your floor’s protective surface.


Consider giving your floor a deep clean or a sand and refinish every three to five years. Sanding and refinishing your hardwood floor completely removes the old protective finish and replaces it. If your floor has some deep scratches or gouges, sanding and refinishing can repair this damage, leaving you with immaculate hardwood flooring that looks like it did the day it was crafted.


Here’s an informative video and an excellent product on hardwood floor care: