The Hard Facts About Hardwood


Whether you’re shopping online or walking around a Lumber Liquidators store, there are so many types of hardwood it’s easy to get confused. Solid, Natural, Engineered, Rustic…what does it all mean? You can learn a lot about a product by looking at its name.

One BIG factor to consider is…


The names of our hardwoods will include terms like Select, Natural, Cabin or Rustic. These terms are grades, which provide general characteristics to expect from the product you choose, including appearance, length and size of the boards and knots. Each wood species is different and characteristics will vary, but determining the types of things you want in your floor will be a good place to start. What do these terms imply?

Select Grade

(Also known as First Grade or Clear)

Select grade flooring contains natural characteristics such as small knots and minor color variations. Specific characteristics vary, but typically you will see slight imperfections in milling, slight variations in face-work (which can be removed by sanding), small pin holes, burls, and slightly open checks.

On average, plank length is longer and color is more uniform compared to Natural.

If you purchase pre-finished flooring, the finish will be practically free of most defects like debris, skips, streaks, chipping or scratches.

Select Grade- Bellawood Select Braziliant Chestnut

This is Bellawood Select Brazilian Chestnut!

Natural Grade

 (Also known as First or Second Grade, Millrun, or #1 common)

Natural grade flooring contains distinct variations in coloration and varying wood characters. Typically, you will see minor imperfections in milling, imperfections in face-work (which you can’t wholly remove by sanding), slight variations in angle of end matching, varying wood characteristics like spots, streaks, slightly open checks, pin/worm holes, small splits or broken knots.

On average, plank length is slightly longer than Rustic.

If you purchase pre-finished flooring, the finish will be free of most imperfections; however Natural grade products may contain a limit amount of minor blemishes such as grainy surface, bubbles, streaks or dents.

Natural Grade- Bellawood Natural Hickory

That’s Bellawood Natural Hickory!

Rustic Grade

(Also known as Third Grade, or #2 common)

Rustic grade flooring may contain all natural variations in coloration and characteristics. Boards with characteristics like rotten ends, advanced rot and severe milling imperfections are typically removed, but knot holes and open characters which can be filled are admitted.

Average plank length is slightly shorter than Natural grade.

The finish on pre-finished Rustic floors may have a limited amount of finishing imperfections such as moderate grainy surface, streaks, dents or peel.

Rustic Grade- Bellawood Rustic Red Oak

What do you think of Bellawood Rustic Red Oak?

Cabin Grade

Cabin grade products will include variable amounts of milling, grading and/or finishing defects, but these imperfections should still provide a serviceable floor. Cabin, tavern, or utility grade hardwood can provide a low-cost option.


Select has the most uniform color with no knots and the longest average length of planks.

Natural has some color variation, mineral coloring and small pin knots.

Rustic has larger tight knots and the most color variation.

What else should you consider?

Solid vs. Engineered

Solid hardwood is milled from one thick piece of wood and can be pre-finished or unfinished for you to apply your own stain. It can be sanded and refinished several times. With environmental changes, solid hardwood contracts and expands more than engineered wood.

Engineered hardwood is made of REAL hardwood veneers, backed by a plywood or fiberboard which increases stability. Most of our engineered flooring is made in Random Length format to avoid a repetitive appearance. It can also be more cost effective because the planks can come from every tree.

Others terms to look for:

Click Floating

A click-together floor is installed by simply clicking together. “Floating”? just means it is unsecured to the subfloor.

Click- Schon Quick Clic Engineered Santos Mahogany

Schon Quick Clic Engineered Santos Mahogany is a click-together floor!


Our Bellawood comes with a 100 Year Transferable Warranty. It is enhanced with a UV aluminum oxide finish. Basically, that gives Bellawood products a superior scratch resistance.

Bellawood Brazilian Walnut

Like the look of Bellawood Brazilian Walnut?


Handscraped flooring is created by hand with wood scraping tools to give it an old wood appearance. It’s a very popular choice with those who want the look of an old reclaimed wood floor with a modern urethane finish. Hand-crafting is rare these days, which why our Virginia Mill Works collection is so unique and stunning. You may see natural grain markings and knots.

Handscraped- Virginia Mill Works Vineyard Heart Pine

This is Virginia Mill Works Vineyard Heart Pine.

Do you have more questions about hardwood? Ask us!


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