Oak Grades

These grading rules are established by NOFMA. Many manufacturers have defined their own proprietary grades that further segment the available flooring options and create comparisons with the standard grades. We offer two non-standard grades of oak wood flooring: #3 common (utility) and character (natural).


One of the most common grades of wood, select grade wood has relatively even color with a mix of natural heartwood and sapwood, and exhibits minimal character marks. This grade admits: unlimited sound sapwood; minimal imperfections from milling; small tight knots every 3 feet; pin worm holes; burls; and slightly open checks. Although brown streaks are allowed, they should not extend the length of the piece. Two flag worm holes to every 8 feet are permitted. Spot filling is usually required for open characters.

#1 Common

This flooring product comes in shorter board length and has distinct color variations and prominent character marks such as knots, pinholes, and checks. However, these marks have size limitations and open checks and knots must be sound and readily fill. Sticker stain, flag worm holes, heavy streaks, and some dark machine burn across the face (size limitations) are allowed. Broken knots that are larger than .5 in. in diameter, large grub worm holes, and end-to-end splits are not permitted. This wood has a smooth, traditional look and is ideal for staining.

#2 Common

This grade of wood has a rustic appearance, distinct color variations and a variety of sound natural and manufacturing imperfections. Natural imperfections include knots, open pinholes and other open characters that will readily fill. Manufacturing irregularities may be a result of drying or machining. Shattered ends, large broken knots, excessively bad millwork, shake, advanced rot and other unsound defects are not permitted. A limited number of pieces with no tongue that can be face nailed are allowed.
This wood is ideal for applications where character marks and contrasting colors are desirable.

#3 Common (also known as Utility)

This is one of lowest grades in unfinished flooring. Expect distinct light and dark board variations and even more knots, streaks and pinholes. Boards tend to be very short in length and may have splits, cracks, broken tongues and other defects. Due to these imperfections, we suggest adding a waste factor of up to 20% when purchasing this grade. However, this wood is a good value as it is inexpensive and does not compromise on quality.

Character (also known as Natural)

This grade of wood is unfinished and shows lots of natural character. Expect shorter light and dark boards and possibility of pinholes, knots and small checks. This grade of wood comes in a variety of constructions, colors and looks, so you can easily find a variation ideal for your flooring project.