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Factors in the Quality of Hardwood Floor Finishes

March 15, 2018

hardwoods blue walls

When it’s time to choose a hardwood floor, you might be surprised at the different hardwood floor finishes and price points available. Why is one type of hardwood floor so much more expensive than another? The answer has to do with the species of wood, the grade, and the cut used. Take a look at some of the specifications of each and learn about what you’re paying for when you choose a higher- or lower-quality hardwood floor.


Oak is the most common type of wood used in homes, and for good reason: It’s readily abundant, it’s easy to stain any color desired, and it’s not very expensive. Maple and hickory are generally more expensive than oak, and cherry and walnut are even more pricey. It’s important to understand, however, that a higher grade or cut of oak might be more expensive than a lesser grade of maple, and so on; species is not the only factor when it comes to how much the hardwood floor will cost.


Some hardwood floors look very clear; this means that they don’t have any knots or streaks, and the color is very consistent. This is the most expensive grade of wood. Lesser grades of wood are sometimes preferred for a more rustic look; these might have knots or wormholes as well as discrepancies in color and shade. You will generally pay less for a more rustic look, as most of the time these pieces have a lower grade.


Wood is cut at different angles and these cuts produce a variety of appearances (as well as a variety of prices). Plainsawn is the most common cut (as well as the least expensive) and it provides a varied grain appearance. Quartersawn wood includes ray flecks, which give the wood the appearance that it’s shimmering in certain light. It’s more expensive than plainsawn. Riftsawn wood is similar to quartersawn but does not include the ray flecks. Finally, livesawn wood is a combination of the other three types.

When pricing your hardwood floor, find out from your flooring specialist about the species, the cut, and the grade of the wood that will go in your home. Wood floors can be achievable on a lower budget and there are many different hardwood floor finishes available. Be sure that you know exactly what you’ll be getting for the price that you pay.