It is premium grade wood and, as its category name suggests, its face is pretty much free of character marks like knots and burls. The grain of Clear Grade boards will tend to be quite consistent, as will the color from board to board. Clear Grade boards are taken from the heartwood of a tree and create a very smooth, uniform look often desired when a clean, classic tone is the goal. Since boards that can be graded as Clear are somewhat rare, it is often easier to find engineered Clear Grade, as a single piece of clear lumber goes much further when sliced thin for engineered boards than it would as a solid floor board. For the same reason, Clear Grade wood will almost always cost more than other grades.
Like Clear Grade, Select Grade wood will show a fairly consistent face, largely free of “imperfections”. However, with Select Grade, which is cut from both heartwood and sapwood, you will find more color variation between and within the boards as well as subtle diversions in the grain pattern that start to display some of wood’s natural character. Though easier to mill than Clear Grade, Select Grade wood is still fairly sparse, generally accounting for no more than 15% of a given tree, so it tends to fall into the same cost category as Clear Grade, and, in fact, they are often bundled together.
#1 Common Grade
It is in the Common Grades that natural wood character is really allowed to shine. In #1 Common, you will see characteristics like swirls, knots, and streaks in a good number of the boards, though these will be limited in size and prominence. When you look at a #1 Common Grade floor, you know are reminded that you are looking at a natural, organic material. #1 Common is an excellent choice for those who wish their floors to be a centerpiece of the room. The Common Grades are also the most forgiving choice for high traffic areas or homes with pets or lively children, as dings and scratches are easily masked among the natural imperfections of the wood.
#2 Common Grade
#2 Common is similar to #1, but with more boards displaying the characteristic marks of natural wood and greater color variation among the boards. #2Common, sometimes referred to as Rustic Grade, retains much of the organic, natural quality of the trees from which it comes. Depending on the species of wood, stark color variations and bold streaks, prominent knots and burls, and highly inconsistent grain patterns make #2 Common Grade floors a great choice when the natural, living look is what you seek. Hickory, a species known for its beautiful color variation is a star in #1 and #2 Common Grades.