Wood grain is the pattern made by the wood fibres in trees which is visible across the surface of a cut board. These fibres make beautiful patterns through the board, which is one of the most appealing parts of engineered or solid wood floors. The grain of the board can vary a lot, even between wood from the same species, so it's helpful to understand what type of floor to expect when you opt for a certain grain. That's why we've split our floors into four categories of grain.
Below, we explain what each wood grade means, and suggest how to use it in your home. Remember, there's no right or wrong answer as to which wood grain to use – it's entirely up to you and the look you want to achieve
This type of wood has a steady and regular grain with very little colour variation, which gives your floor a uniform appearance throughout your room. Prime grade floors don't have many natural imperfections such as knots, checks or cracks, and the grain is neat and linear. This is perfect for people who want their floor to be a beautiful but neutral base which doesn't detract from the other design elements of your room. Typically, Prime grain suits contemporary, urban designs or rooms with lots of accessories. A Prime grade floor is sure to prevent a floor from clashing with any design features of the room and blends beautifully with all kinds of materials ranging from chrome to exposed brick.
A Natural grade flooring is a little more varied than a Prime grain, with some colour variation between boards and a grain pattern which is less linear. There can also be a few knots and medulla rays (which are often seen as bands of a lighter colour which travel across the grain) which break up the wood grain. If there are any cracks or holes, they're often very small and are filled with coloured wood filler to keep the surface of the wood flat and smooth. This is a mild and very versatile type of wood grain which can be used in rural and contemporary homes alike; it gives a relaxed and inviting feel to your room.
A Rustic floors have a lot more variation than a Natural or Prime grade board, and gives a very raw, natural look which has made it our most popular grade. Whilst some boards on a rustic floor may be fairly calm, others can feature knots, streaks, worm holes, colour variation and grooves. All worm holes have been treated and holes will have been filled with coloured wood filler (which may not always match the colour of the wood). This is the best grade for a rural or country home design, but it can also be used to great effect in a shabby chic setting.
Character floors go one step further than Rustic floors by deliberately including boards with a lot of features and variation. Lots of large knots, worm holes, heavy mineral streaks, large grain burls and cracks can all be found on a Character grade board, bringing a rich liveliness to the floor. Holes and cracks will often be filled, and the filler may not match the colour of the wood, but the boards are carefully cut and treated so that they're just as strong as any Prime grade. Character floors are perfect for making a statement and creating a talking point for your guests. Mostly, Character grade boards will be found in expressive, traditional homes, but a savvy designer can also combine them with sleek, metallic textures for a stunning modern look.