Grade & Milling Guide

To aid in the flooring selection process, we've broken out the various grades & saw methods with along with their pros and cons. Ranger Hardwoods offers live-sawn, plain-sawn, quarter-sawn, and rift-and-quartered flooring.


Grading hardwood floors is based on the percentage of defect-free boards in a selection. Ranger offers the following grades:

  • Clear -The “cleanest” possible grade of a hardwood floor. Little variation in color and exceptional average board length, no knots or other defects in the wood.
  • Select - Usually contains a small amount of color. Minimal character markings, and average overall length. The most widely used grade.
  • No. 1 Common - Color variation and character markings such as small knots and mineral streaks. Moderate color variation between sapwood and heartwood. Less average length per board.
  • No. 2 Common - Significant manufacturing marks and character marks. Prominent color variation between sapwood and heartwood. Short overall length.

We also offer a full line of reclaimed and rustic flooring.


Live-sawn flooring: This type of flooring is produced when each plank is cut straight off of the log in a single direction. The orientation of the log is not changed when the planks are cut. Because of this, the flooring displays the full range of the log’s grain, including the iconic cathedral grain, and includes both heartwood and sapwood. Live-sawn floors include a mix of clear and natural grades and a variety of graining patterns. This milling technique is the most efficient and eco-friendly of the four because the entire log is utilized. Because at least a third of the planks making up live-sawn floors are quarter-sawn, this type of flooring is stable.

Plain-sawn flooring: This is the most common type of milling in the United States, in which the board is cut and then the log is turned 90 degrees before being cut again. This involves cutting the lumber into parallel planks through the center, resulting in a beautiful cathedral graining pattern. Because the wood is cut tangential to the growth rings of the treethis is not a very stable cut and may be prone to cupping when excessive moisture is present. 

Quarter-sawn flooring: This cut is produced by quartering the log lengthwise, which results in growth rings which are at 90 degrees to the face of the board. This produces a straight, striped grain and creates distinctive ray and fleck patterns in red and white oak. This cut produces dimensionally stable flooring and is generally resistant to moisture fluctuations.

Rift-and-quartered flooring: This is the least common type of milling for hardwood floors because it produces a substantial amount of waste. The planks are milled perpendicular to the growth rings of the tree, which produces a straight grain pattern with no flecking. The log’s growth rings range from 30-60 degrees to the face of the board. These floors are rather expensive, but rift-and-quartered floors are the most dimensionally stable out of the four types of cuts.

Have more questions or ready to get started on your project?

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Don't see what you're looking for? Ranger Hardwood can source & customize any floor to meet your project needs. Simply let us know what you need, when you need it, and we'll get you a quote ASAP! Prefer to speak? Give us a call at 631-791-3055.

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