Select and Better or "A" Grade
Select and Better grade is meant to be the "Cream of the crop" of Hardwood floors. With Select and Better grade hardwood flooring you should find the following true. Although, you must keep in mind, a manufacturer can place a select and Better sticker on it's product at his discretion. The grade posted is as only as good as the manufacturer posting it.
- Longer board lengths - Some manufacturers do not supply any full length 6' to 8' boards regardless of grade level. When we supply flooring to our customers, each box will contain 4 to 10 boards 6' or longer.
- Kiln dried before milling - If wood is not properly dried prior to milling, Boards that contain a higher moisture content will enviably shrink. This will cause gaps in the floor equal to the shrinkage amount. This problem is far more common that one might think.
- Lower colour variation between boards - The darker the stain, the less that colour variation comes into play. Even the same type of wood cut from the same tree will vary in colour. Select and better grade hardwood boards should have been "SELECTED" when in their natural unfinished state. Whichever board colours are too light or dark should be moved on down the "grade" ladder, those of you who are planing a Natural finished colour, which is simply applications of polyurethane/varnish, you will always find a slight variation of colour. This is especially true with oak.
- Minimum 7 coats of finish - This is typically a problem with product coming from Abroad. Now, not every manufacturer Abroad provides an inadequate finish. But you are far more likely to find a Canadian hardwood with a proper finish than you are hardwood from abroad.
- Knots - Wood naturally has knots, but there is a difference between a surface knot and a deep knot that has or will end up becoming a hole. Surface knots are shallow and add character to the floor. This holds most true with oak, as Maple will show streaking. With that said a justified Select & Better grade of hardwood will have limited knots, and small in nature.
Select or "B" Grade
Select grade hardwood is a shade lower that Select and Better. Many of the Select grade boards are actually capable of making the Select and Better grade. But it will also contain boards that may have some slight defects.
In order for "Select" grade hardwood to consist of superior quality than the lower grades, it still must (or should) have a minimum of defects. In our experience the most common issue with regards to Select grade hardwood is the milling. Again keep in mind this will depend on the manufacturer as to what "Select" grade comprises of.
All others grades, "C" and lower
Here is where you especially have to "dot your I's and cross your T's". If you do not see a posted grade, you best be careful. If the grade is not either Select and Better or Select, than depending on the manufacturer, it will carry a name such as
- Pub etc....
In our experience, purchasing these types of grades are usually a problem. Mind you, there are some manufacturers who produce a suitable "C" grade, although you will not find any long boards and there will be at least some milling issues.