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What are the differences in Hardwood Grades?

A term you will see on our site when looking at hardwood you are perhaps unfamiliar with is the term "Cabin Grade".  This is an alternate term used to describe the quality of the hardwood. Although there are other grades, most of what you see in our store will be:

  • Select Grade (1st Quality)
  • Cabin Grade (2nd Quality)
  • Tavern or Shop Grade (3rd Quality)

Select quality floors are #1 quality. They will be what the manufacturer intends for the floor to look like. Very little imperfection, color variation, and a good mixture of board lengths will be expected.

Cabin Grade quality floors are essentially 2nds. Unlike most other products though, this doesn't mean the floor is unusable or that there is necessarily anything wrong with the flooring. Cabin Grade means you will see more "character" in the flooring. A general idea of what you will find in Cabin Grade flooring would be:

  • Manufacturing Variation - While Select Grade is the intention of the manufacturing process, Cabin Grade wood is inevitable in the process. Cracks in the surface/finish, uneven beveling, milling variations in thickness and/or width, finish inconsistencies, etc. are possible with Cabin Grade and lower quality woods.
  • Higher Percentage Color Variation - Shading and tone of color variations will be wider in a Cabin Grade product as compared to Select Grade. Coloring, Shading, and Hue can be a bit more inconsistent between a cabin grade floor and select grade. This can include natural color variation as well as stain variation based upon how the wood itself absorbs the stain when applied.
  • Natural Hardwood Variation - Wormholes, pinholes, knotholes, mineral streaking, and dents are just some of the natural imperfections that may be found more often in Cabin Grade hardwood.
  • Length Variation - This is pretty explanatory. In Select Grade, you get a pretty close to even number of lengths in the boards. In Cabin Grade, typically there will be more short boards than long boards. This isn't a problem, but isn't as aesthetically pleasing for some customers.
  • Shape Variation - Although unusual, it isn't unheard of for a Cabin Grade hardwood plank/board to be bent or crooked or in some cases have some inconsistent milling on the end and side joints. This is more typical in Tavern Grades but isn't impossible in a Cabin Grade product.

Any grade below Select Grade can still make a gorgeous floor but proper planning is needed. You must allow for "waste" or boards you find too unattractive to install. Typically, with Cabin Grade floor you want to add 10-20% to the square footage you actually need to cover your floor. Less than desirable pieces can be installed under cabinets, furniture, or put in closets to cut back on waste but you still want to allow for the potential that you may throw some boards out simply because you do not want them included in your floor.  This number is entirely up to the purchaser and really it comes down to how choosy you intend to be with the boards that are installed in your floor. We honestly have some customers that waste less than 5% of their flooring because they love the natural and artificial imperfections and we have had some customers exceed the recommended maximum of 20% waste. This is strictly up to each purchaser on what the final product they desire is.

If you feel you will expect perfection on the floor when you are finished with installation, we highly recommend you stay with Select quality products or look at products manufactured to look like specific floors such as Laminate and Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring.

In most cases, these floors are purchased without knowledge of the specific flaws in each floor. It is assumed that as retailers we understand the risks involved with each grade of flooring. Therefore, we do not open the boxes and packaging to inspect each floor we retail.  We do our best to educate each customer on the product before purchase and you can always give us a call (270-586-3839) or send us an email (a1floorsonline@gmail.com) if you have further questions and we will be happy to assist you in making the right choice on the floor you want to purchase.

All Cabin Grade, Tavern Grade, and 2nds are sold without Warranty and considered "As Is". This means we cannot accept returns on the product for visual or manufacturing defects.