Part of the beauty of wood is that each and every plank is unique. But, the rules and standards on timber grading differ from country to country, and even from species to species. This is understandably confusing for our clients. 

Oak is by far our most popular species so, in order to show you a typical spread of grain formation and the properties for each grading description, we have chosen this species as an example of what to expect.

We have shown below what is likely to be the “worst case” in terms of knot size; many individual planks will fall well within this.

PRIME GRADE

Typically, prime grade has few, if any knots, and these will be of minimal size. There will also be a minimal amount of sapwood
defects and filler, if any at all. Where filler is used its colour is carefully selected to complement the wood rather than to match it exactly, and the colour of the filler may vary from batch to batch. There will be a relatively small amount of colour variation in the timber itself.

SELECT GRADE

Typically, select grade will have a mix of almost prime boards with other planks which have more knots. Slightly larger knots are allowed in this grade. Heartwood and colour variation in the timber should be expected and there may be some checks (cracks across the growth ring), sapwood and filler. The colour of the filler is carefully selected to complement the wood rather than to match it exactly and it may vary from batch to batch.

CHARACTER / CLASSIC GRADE

Known as either character or classic grade, typically this allows a wider range of colour variation. Knots are larger and you should expect checks (cracks across the growth ring) and possibly some end shake (cracks between the rings). Filler will be used, the colour of which is carefully selected to complement the wood rather than to match it exactly, and it may vary from batch to batch.

NATURAL / RUSTIC GRADE

Known as either natural or rustic grade this allows a virtually limitless size and number of knots. Heartwood will be used, there will be
colour variation, sapwood and filler; you should also expect checks (cracks across the growth ring) and possibly some end shake (cracks between the rings). The colour of the filler is carefully selected to complement the wood rather than to match it exactly and it may vary from batch to batch.

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