A large part of the charm and beauty of a hardwood floor comes from the pattern of the natural grain in each board. The markings, knots, swirls and flares of each board ensure that no two floors are alike. Different woods have individual grain patterns and different characteristics. In addition, how each board is cut from the log yields unique results.
Three Basic Types of Cuts
Hardwood is cut from logs using three basic hardwood flooring cuts. Each has its own distinctive features. Below is an outline of each of these hardwood flooring cuts:
Plainsawn Cut Wood
Also sometimes referred to as flatsawn wood, this is the most commonly-used cut for hardwood floors. These boards are noted for their "cathedral peak" pattern at the center of each piece. Plainsawn boards also yield the most affordable hardwood flooring boards.
Quartersawn Cut Wood
A quartersawn board is produced by first dividing the log into four equal pieces before the log is cut into boards. Quartersawn boards generally have straighter, more consistent grain lines and are more narrow than plainsawn boards.
Riftsawn Cut Wood
The most expensive type of hardwood flooring cut, riftsawn wood is cut with each board at right angles to the tree's growth rings, yielding nearly uniform grain lines. This type of wood flooring cut is somewhat rare and generally needs to be custom-ordered.