Hardwood floors come in many styles, grades and prices. Some hardwood flooring is clean, modern and minimalistic. But that doesn’t always complement the rustic, farmhouse style that’s so popular nowadays. Plus, hardwood flooring can get expensive. Cabin grade flooring satisfies your desire for a casual, natural look and saves you money.

Cabin Grade Flooring is Utility Grade

Like eggs, hardwood flooring is graded according to certain aesthetic characteristics:

  • Prime – AB grade flooring is uniform in color and grain pattern and has minimal knots.
  • Select – ABC grade flooring contains some knots and color variation.
  • Natural – ABCD grade flooring has plenty of variation in its pattern and color and contains significant knots.
  • Rustic – CD grade flooring offers a vintage, pastoral style and has lots of knots and grain variations.
  • Utility – Cabin grade flooring is the most rustic, with many natural imperfections.

You may read that cabin grade flooring is low in quality. However, it’s not an inferior product. It simply contains more of the deviations that occur in natural wood. Don’t confuse cabin grade flooring with factory seconds, which are usually cast offs that do have quality issues.

Cabin grade flooring is harvested from parts of the tree in which knots, cracks and scratches are likely to be found. These types of planks are not milled as meticulously as other grades. Therefore, they may not have a uniform thickness or length.

Because of the nature of cabin grade flooring, it may also contain more defects than other grades. But these are like beauty marks; they create character. Nevertheless, you may have to work around some of the flaws and generate extra waste.

Types of Imperfections Found in Cabin Grade Flooring

We think of flaws as something negative, but many people look for wood with imperfections because it has more character than uniform planks. Some of the variations that you will find in cabin grade floors include:

  • Heartwood – Strong, decay-resistant wood from the center of the tree, which often contains tannins that darken its tone
  • Sapwood – The outermost layer of wood, which is lighter than heartwood
  • Knots – Illustrative of the location where a branch meets the tree, these oval shapes contain resins that make them darker than the surrounding wood
  • Pinholes – Narrow cavities that formed when wood-boring insects lived in the tree before it was harvested
  • Filler – Material that is added to holes, particularly in knots, to close the gap
  • Splits – Cracks in the surface of the wood that add character without impairing its durability
  • Mineral coloration – Patches of color that are formed when minerals from the soil leach into the wood as the tree grows

What You Should Know About Cabin Grade Floors

Having realistic expectations can help you get the look that you’re going for with cabin grade floors. Here are some things that you should consider before making a decision.

Boards Are Shorter Than Usual

While many planks will be a standard 24 inches long, about 50% of them will be shorter than that. This can add work to the installation process. However, many installers feel as though the labor balances itself out because they don’t have to deal with bowing and warping. Also, the shorter planks let you create a unique pattern with plenty of contrast.

The Species of Wood Affects the Aesthetics

All cabin grade flooring is not the same. The look that you’re going for depends on the type of wood that you buy.

Maple contains fewer knots than most other types of wood and may come with more short planks. It provides one of the cleanest finishes of all of the cabin grade planks.

Hickory features some of the most contrast. The background color ranges from almost white to dark honey, and the splits and knots are deep chocolate. The tone variation on hickory cabin grade flooring may even look splotchy and organic. Gray hues are also common in this species of wood.

Oak provides balance between color and contrast. It offers a medium honey background color, and the splits and knots are not as noticeable as they are in hickory.

Expect Some to Go to Waste

The average installer discards up to 20% of cabin grade planks. Keep this in mind so that you purchase enough to cover the entire area.

You’ll have to decide which defects are acceptable and which won’t work in your master plan. You can minimize much of the waste by placing less desirable boards in low-visibility areas, such as inside closets, near baseboards, beneath furniture and under rugs.

Look at the Floor as a Whole

A hardwood floor is supposed to look like a mosaic. When you look at individual planks, you may not think that they’ll go together well. But when you step back and look at the entire space, you will appreciate the way that the variety adds depth and interest to your décor.

Make sure that you open all of the boxes of flooring before you install it. This allows you to mix up the planks and produce the most pleasing results.

You might not like all of the nicks and blemishes on the planks. However, you can sand, stain and fill areas to produce a finish that you’re happy with. The knots and texture may show through stains, producing an interesting look that’s never too uniform.

Why Would You Choose Cabin Grade Flooring?

Cabin grade flooring has a rough-hewn appearance that many people aim to incorporate in their homes. The grading system doesn’t reflect the integrity of the wood; it just indicates that this is on the rustic side of the spectrum.

Some reasons that you might prefer cabin grade flooring are as follows:

  • Excellent value – This type of flooring costs up to 50% less than prime grade planks. It’s an affordable way to swap out your carpet or linoleum without derailing your budget.
  • Complements multiple styles – You don’t need a cabin to make this flooring look good. Cabin grade flooring can look vintage or surprisingly modern, depending on the way that it’s installed.
  • Unique character – It’s difficult to predict exactly how cabin grade floors will look before they are installed. Because the planks have so much variation, you can change the overall appearance by configuring them differently.
  • Perfect for busy spaces – Floors in high-traffic areas, such as mudrooms and playrooms, get lots of abuse. Damage will blend into cabin-grade flooring, but it could create obvious blemishes on other grades of hardwood.

All natural wood has imperfections. If you’re looking for a floor with character, you can capitalize on those flaws by using cabin grade planks. This type of flooring offers a distressed, rustic look that will never be identical to anyone else’s floors. It may not be the best option for people who want a uniform, even-looking floor. But if you install cabin grade floors, they’re sure to complement many styles of décor and start conversations.