Determining The Right Hardwood Floors For Your Home

Plain Sawn Hardwood Floors

Plain sawn which is also sometimes called flat sawn is the simplest, most common + least expensive method to mill hardwood floors. It’s where parallel cuts are made lengthwise to the tree which amounts to the least amount of waste.

Plain Sawn Wood Grain

Plain sawn hardwood floors often have the highest grain variation which can create a unique look. Depending upon the species of wood, plain sawing may result in the “cathedral effect” where the wood grain, although wavy, resembles that of a cathedral which contributes to a distinction in the pattern.

Plain Sawn Durability

While the species of wood is certainly important to its overall durability, the way plain sawing cuts the logs does leave it more susceptible to:

  • Cupping where the wood starts to rise on the edge of the planks.

  • Crowning where the center of the plank is higher than the edges.

  • Gapping where the wood separates or creates “gaps” in between the planks.

Quarter Sawn Hardwood Floors

For quarter-sawn hardwood flooring, each log has been cut into… you guessed it — quarters. And then, cuts are made to the tree perpendicular to the growth ring of the tree. Because of the added steps + the angle of the cuts, not only does cost increase but so too does waste.

Quarter Sawn Wood Grain

Based upon the nature of cutting into the growth ring, quarter sawn wood grain has a very straight + even grain pattern to it. Depending upon the species of the tree, quarter sawn wood grain may reveal quite a bit of flecking in the wood.

Quarter Sawn Durability

From a durability standpoint, quarter-sawn hardwood floors are cut in a way that makes them more resistant to moisture + thus less susceptible to cupping or warping. 

Rift Sawn Hardwood Floors

Rift sawn, which is also called radial grain, is quartered + then each quarter is cut along the “radius” of the tree. Because of the way that rift-sawn floors are cut… a triangle of waste from in between each plank exists.

Rift Sawn Wood Grain

Rifts sawn wood grain is very linear (hence the trade-off of added waste) with no flecking + thus creating an extremely uniform + refined look to the hardwood floors.

Rift Sawn Durability

Because of the way in which rift-sawn hardwood floors are cut the wood is the most durable + stable of the milling methods.

Rift and Quarter Sawn Hardwood Floors

Often because of the considerable waste that comes with full rift sawn hardwood floors, clients prefer a combination of rift + quarter sawn hardwood floors. But it’s not merely taking rift-sawn cuts + quarter-sawn cuts and combining them together randomly. 

The milling process to create this is to actually cut alternating sides of the quarter-log.

Rift and Quarter Sawn Wood Grain

And thus the outcomes of this process are very unique in that while minimizing the grain of the hardwood floors (benefits of rift sawn) it still creates an elegant character in each plank (benefits of quarter sawn).

Rift and Quarter Sawn Durability

From a durability standpoint, the benefits of rift + quarter-sawn hardwood floors remain the same.  

What Wood Species Is The Hardest For Hardwood Floors

While dents, scratches + other wear + tear are inevitable for any flooring, the hardness of a specific wood species is still part of how we determine for our clients what hardwood floors make the most sense for them.

We’re considering things like:

Thankfully, the Janka hardness scale rates the hardness of specific wood species + puts them on a scale. Here are some of the more popular species of wood and their respective Janka ratings:

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