Rustic-Grade Hardwood Flooring Guide for (Clueless) Homeowners

What’s so special about rustic-grade hardwood flooring? Well, hardwood flooring is one of the sturdiest and strongest flooring in home improvement industry.

Despite its greatest benefits and advantages, hardwood floor is pricey. Not to mention that you also need to deal with the high installation cost – if you want the professional installer to do the job perfectly and flawlessly.

Can you do the installation on your own?

I’m afraid not, unless you have the experience and the skills – or you don’t mind ruining your house with your own work.

However, there is a type of hardwood flooring that won’t hurt your wallet – the rustic-grade hardwood flooring. Not many people know this because flooring manufacturers or salespeople don’t talk about it often.

Not only it is quite inexpensive and affordable (if not dirt cheap), but it is 100% real hardwood. So, it’s not the flimsy and lousy type of wood that requires replacing after a few years.

So, what should you know about this type of hardwood floor?

Defining Rustic-Grade Hardwood Flooring

First of all, you need to know the difference of rustic-grade and rustic. Rustic generally refers to appearance. All kind of flooring types can have the rustic label – even for the non-wood type!

You can find vinyl flooring, ceramic tiles, or laminate flooring to have the similar rustic appearance. Rustic appearance refers to the heavily distressed and worn look. Anything with such an appearance has one purpose in mind: to deliver rustic look.

On the other hand, rustic-grade hardwood flooring refers to composition. The flooring industry uses this term to describe the hardwood quality falling below the natural-grade hardwood flooring.

The rustic-grade floor is also called cabin grade, tavern grade, or even number 2 grade flooring. The quality of the surface is poorer and lower than the natural grade type.

It usually comes in random length, which is often shorter than the regular flooring types – and the regular ones are already short!

So, you can imagine the short length.

The General Quality

So, what’s the difference of rustic-grade flooring with the natural-grade type?

Check at the surface imperfections. Whereas the natural-grade boards are generally flat, smooth, and (almost) perfect, the rustic-grade boards usually have many knot-holes, knots, imperfections, and other open holes and spaces.

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It is also possible for the rustic-grade boards to have Sharpie or grease marks. Deeply watermarks or engrained dirt is also common – and you will have to heavily sand the boards to remove those marks or grease.

In terms of structural construction, it is pretty common for the boards to have split ends, (severely) warped boards, broken grooves, and broken tongues.

Perfect Installation Spot

So, where should you install the rustic-grade hardwood flooring?

Keep in mind that not only this flooring isn’t for all homeowners, but it isn’t for all areas within the house either. As the name suggests, the cabin grade flooring is perfect when installed in other places besides the primary residence.

Basically, it is up to homeowners to install the floor in their favorite rooms of the house. Some may never think of installing it in their bedrooms or living rooms.

Because of the imperfection on the surface, you don’t want to install the floor in areas where there is heavy foot traffic with bare foot or only with socks – without shoes.

There are some appropriate locations where you can make use of the rustic-grade flooring, such as the cabins, outbuildings, mudrooms, workshops, and home gyms.

The Flooring Dimensions

Basically, the rustic-grade hardwood flooring has similar dimension to natural-grade flooring, so expect to find it in ¾ inch x 2 ½ inch.

There are some common width for the floor, such as the 4 inch, the 3 ¼ inch, and the 4 ¼ inch.

You can find the plank-width flooring although it is common to find out that the imperfect boards’ cupping is somewhat more pronounced and visible than the narrower ones.

Be advised that each manufacturer has their own length. Even a single brand may have different length for different variants. But if you are worried that your floorboards won’t be uniformed – such a thing won’t happen.

They are generally coming in uniformed length although it is also possible to find uninformed ones – but the latter one is quite rare.

When you want to buy the rustic-grade hardwood flooring, it is common to find them in nested bundles. In flooring industry, the term refers to groups of boards that are randomly long or shorts.

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Nested seems to be the appropriate term because the bundle would appear to be one long boards set from a distance. But if you take a closer look you will see that there are two or even four shorter ones within the bundle.

The nested bundle of rustic-grade boards is available in 6 feet (the longest) and 10 inches (the shortest).

You should make sure that you have even lengths of the board. It would be nice if you have boards in short, medium, or long dimension which will make it easier for the installation.

Let’s say that your bundle only comprises of short boards, it would complicate the installation process because it would affect the overall appearance (after the installation).

Not to mention that the installation process would go longer. And the finished work won’t look good – it would be chaotic. If you want to prevent such thing from happening, you need to check the bundle ahead of time.

Make sure that the bundle consists of different length, from the short one to the long one.

Different Grades of the Flooring

Just like other types of flooring, the rustic-grade flooring also has its own different grade. The grade usually refers to the level of defect or imperfection.

In general, the more the imperfections are, the cheaper the boards would be.

  • Prime grade. This is generally the most perfect type of rustic-grade boards. It usually has a few knots with minimal size. If there is any, such a board may have a few amounts of filler and sapwood defects. You can see a slight color variation within the board.
  • Classic or select grade. This type of board generally has a combination of the prime grade with other planks – especially those with more defects and imperfections, such as knots. You can find slightly bigger knots in this type of grade. Expect to find color variations and heartwood in this board, along with some filler, sapwood, and checks (referring to the cracks found along growth ring). The filler color is selected carefully so it would complement the overall look of the wood instead of making it matching.
  • Character grade. It generally includes sapwood and also heartwood with wider color variation ranges. Besides bigger knots, don’t be surprised to find checks and also end shake (which refers to cracks found between rings). Filler would be definitely used.
  • Sapwood. This is the living spot of a tree. This is the place where sap and water flow. When compared to heartwood, the color of the sapwood would be lighter. Coloring, smoking, and fuming processes would emphasize it.
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Benefits of Rustic-Grade Hardwood Flooring

Naturally, you can expect good outcome from having the rustic-grade floor at home.

What are the perks that you can enjoy?

  • Dynamic look. If you don’t want a uniformed and boring look on the floor, the rustic-grade floor would be just perfect. Unlike other flooring types, the rustic-grade floor doesn’t have uniform look, which is quite unique and different. There would be wide color variations because of different amount of knots.
  • Value – property and money. As it was mentioned before, rustic-grade floor is inexpensive. You don’t have to spend a fortune and yet you can increase the value of the house at the same time. For homeowners with limited budgets, the rustic-grade floor is just ideal to cut the expensive flooring cost.
  • Unique character. The floor has its own appeal, such as holes and knots. They are responsible for the floor’s characteristics. If you want a floor that exudes personality and warmth, then rustic-grade hardwood would be the best pick. Not only it will create unique look to the house, but it also delivers authentic feel to your personal living space.
  • Personalized look. Each board will be different from one another. There would be no similar or ‘twin’ board, so you can create unique look on your floor. Imagine how cool it is!

Buying the Rustic-Grade Flooring

You can go to most home improvements stores and find such a floor. It has different names, but it basically refers to the same item – tavern grade, cabin grade, rustic grade, or utility grade.

In some retailers, they even call it the character grade – mostly because the floor would add rustic character and uniqueness to the (installed) rooms.

If you want to start looking around, go to Lumber Liquidators. Or if you have other references that provide rustic-grade hardwood flooring, feel free to explore them.

In the end, only you can decide whether the rustic-grade flooring is the one that you want for the house. Despite the perks, you also need to consider the downsides.

Learn the facts about rustic-grade hardwood flooring before you make any decision.