A very important thing to consider when buying hardwood flooring is the grain pattern you wish to use in your home. While wood has naturally occurring grains, knots and patterns, the way the wood you are going to be installing is cut is also quite significant to the way your purchase will look when installed. The difference between plain sawn, rift sawn and quarter sawn grain patterns is quite important, and sometimes difficult to understand. These pattern types can create utterly distinct looks when installed, so it is often best to understand them before you make any purchases.
Plain Sawn Hardwood Flooring
The least expensive way to saw a tree is to plain saw it as this method produces the largest amount of usable wood. By slicing up the tree vertically, the wood strips are long and wide, and are perfect for flooring. This sawing pattern creates wood planks on which you can arches, ovals and circular, undulating patterns. These kinds of patterns are usually quite rustic and used in more rural areas as opposed to the city. Flooring that is plain sawn will tend to be less expensive than flooring that is quarter sawn, or rift sawn.
Quarter Sawn Hardwood Flooring
Quarter sawn lumber is more expensive to produce than plain sawn, as it leaves less usable wood overall. To quarter saw a tree, it is first cut into four quarter pieces. These four pieces are then evenly cut into more strips going the same direction. Quarter sawn hardwood flooring has a very straight grain that is used when symmetry is key, and patterned grain is not wanted. Hardwood flooring is often sold in quarter sawn varieties as the straight grain is very appealing to designers. Some varieties of rift sawn wood can have irregular, intricate figuring that usually consists of grain going diagonally across the board. In some cases, this kind of flooring is sought after as it can add another dimension to the room in which it is installed.
Rift Sawn Hardwood Flooring
Rift sawn planks are the most expensive to produce as they leave the least usable wood, but are very often used for flooring as they create very straight patterned grain which is easily adapted to any space. To rift saw a tree the planks are cut parallel to the rings, leaving a huge amount of wood unusable. The plain nature of rift sawn hardwood flooring is desirable to some, but less desirable to others, as it may look unnatural or boring in large quantities. For this reason, hardwood flooring is very often sold in both rift sawn and quarter sawn selections, to add a little variety to the flooring.
Overall, there is no particular benefit to the purchase of any particular hardwood grain pattern. It is merely a matter of what kind of grain you believe would look best in the space you are flooring. A natural, rustic look might be preferable to a straight grain, consistent one, depending on your own personal taste and preference regarding the way you want your hardwood flooring to look.
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