Wooden flooring exudes a timeless elegance that can significantly enhance the ambiance of any space, especially within the realm of hospitality. However, delving into the world of hardwood flooring can be a complex journey, with various grades such as Prime, Select, Natural, Rustic, and more to consider. What exactly do these grades signify, and how can they be of value to your hotel product offerings? In essence, the Hotel Wood Flooring Grade of the timber speaks to the presence of knots, sapwood, and other “imperfections” allowed in the wood flooring product, whether they are planks or parquet.
Please Note: There isn’t a single, universally accepted framework for international standards in wood flooring grades. Criteria can differ between wood species, and different suppliers and manufacturers may use varying classifications or terminology.
Understanding Wood Flooring Grades
Among the majority of wood flooring traders, it’s common practice to represent the grade of timber using alphabet letters or combinations thereof, such as A, AB, ABC, ABCD, CD. These letters typically correspond to specific wood flooring grades, each with its unique characteristics:
A – Prime Grade
Prime grade wood flooring epitomizes perfection. It is characterized by the absence or minimal size of knots, often referred to as pin knots or eye knots due to their diminutive size. These knots are considered healthy and typically do not require filler. In Prime grade flooring, there’s minimal color variation, and sapwood is generally not allowed. This grade is the epitome of elegance and suits contemporary hotel interiors.
AB – Select Grade
Select grade flooring is a versatile choice. It is often chosen as an alternative to Prime grade when pure Prime boards are unavailable. Select grade includes some clear Prime grade planks mixed with those containing restricted size knots, usually up to 10-15mm in size. Some of these knots may be healthy knots, while others may be filled with filler. Around 10% sapwood is allowed in Select grade flooring, along with some color variation. Select grade flooring strikes a balance between a pristine look and a touch of natural character, making it suitable for a wide range of hotel settings.
ABC – Natural Grade
Natural Grade flooring celebrates the wood’s innate beauty. As the name suggests, it showcases the wood’s natural appearance, including knots of normal size, typically 25-50mm wide, often filled with wood filler. The number of knots per board may be limited. This grade allows for sapwood and natural color variation, as well as filled cracks and knots on the edges. Natural Grade flooring brings a touch of nature indoors and suits hotels aiming for a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
ABCD – Natural/Rustic Grade
Rustic grade, often accompanied by the Natural grade, is one of the most prevalent wood flooring options available today. Rustic grade flooring can feature knots of virtually limitless size and number per board, contributing to its distinctive character. Expect color variation due to the use of heartwood and sapwood. Cracks and knots are often filled with filler to complement the wood’s color. As the abbreviation suggests, this grade combines occasional cleaner boards with more natural/rustic ones. Rustic Grade flooring adds warmth and authenticity to hotel spaces, making guests feel right at home.
CD – Rustic/Character Grade
Character grade is typically the lowest grade of timber available in the UK. It’s an excellent choice when emphasizing the timber’s character is desired. In this grade, there are no limits on knot sizes, shapes, or numbers, and any size cracks are allowed per board. Some knots and cracks may be unfilled, open, and maximum color variation is permitted. Some products in this grade may even feature natural or purpose-made imperfections like insect marks, rough saw marks, surface deformations, and more. Character Grade flooring tells a story, making it an excellent choice for hotels with a rich history or those aiming for a unique, one-of-a-kind ambiance.
The Connection to Your Hotel Supply Business
As a one-stop supplier for hotel products, understanding wood flooring grades can be a significant asset to your business. Hotel owners and interior designers often seek the perfect balance between aesthetics, durability, and cost when selecting flooring options. By offering a range of wood flooring grades, you can cater to a broader clientele with diverse preferences.
Does Lower Grade Mean Lower Quality?
In the world of wood flooring, a lower grade does not necessarily imply lower quality. The quality of the timber remains consistent across grades, particularly when dealing with engineered timber. It’s crucial to note that some wood flooring grades allow for open knots and cracks. However, in most cases, these features are intentionally introduced to enhance the character and authenticity of the flooring.
Choosing the Right Grade for Hotel Interiors
When selecting the right wood flooring grade for hotel interiors, there is no universal “right” or “wrong.” It’s a highly subjective decision that depends on personal preferences and the designer’s vision for the hotel’s ambiance. Many customers opt for Prime or Select grade flooring when seeking a modern and minimalist interior appearance. In contrast, Rustic/Character grade flooring adds a touch of tradition and warmth to more classic hotel designs. There are exceptions, with some interior designers successfully blending rustic flooring with modern furniture, creating a captivating fusion of styles.
The key factor in choosing wood flooring of a particular grade is personal taste. While some clients prefer Cleaner grade for its immaculate appearance, others find it too perfect and artificial. Therefore, it’s crucial to make informed decisions during the initial planning stages of your wooden flooring projects.
As with any product, there are cost differences between wood flooring products in various grades. In general, Prime or Select grade flooring tends to be more expensive than Natural or Rustic options. This is because only a small portion of the timber log can be used to produce cleaner-grade flooring. The cost also depends on other factors, such as the type of wooden flooring (engineered, solid wood, parquet blocks), size (thickness, width, length), manufacturing location, and the wood species itself.
Tips for Selecting the Right Wood Flooring Grade
When choosing the ideal wood flooring grade for your hotel project, consider the overall appearance in the chosen color. Prime or Select Grade flooring complements light or natural finishes exceptionally well. If you aim for a medium to dark look, the color can make knots, sapwood, and imperfections less visible. In such cases, Rustic grade flooring may be a more sensible choice over Cleaner grade, as both can achieve a similar appearance.
Conversely, in instances where knots in oak boards are filled with black filler, they become more conspicuous when the flooring has a very light or pale finish. This should be factored into your initial planning when selecting the desired flooring.
In the realm of wood flooring grade, there are no rigid rules or wrong choices. It’s a deeply personal decision that hinges on individual taste and the desired ambiance of a hotel. If you’re keen on offering wooden flooring in a specific grade, always communicate with your supplier about the grade’s details—what’s allowed and what’s not. Reputable flooring companies will gladly provide you with comprehensive information about the grading of their products. Additionally, experienced flooring installers can offer valuable advice about the ideal wood flooring and its grade for your hotel projects.
Please bear in mind that grade specifications and names may vary due to different countries and factories adhering to diverse grading rules and industry standards. This article serves as a guideline, so it’s essential to consult your wooden flooring supplier to ascertain the specific specifications and allowances of the grade you intend to offer to your valued hotel clients.
Incorporating this knowledge into your hotel product supply business can help you provide tailored solutions to your clients, enhancing their understanding of your products and ultimately elevating the ambiance of their hotel spaces.