Complete Guide to Rustic Grade Hardwood Flooring

  • Rustic Grade Hardwood Flooring for Economy and Character

    Rustic Grade Hardwood Flooring
    Pakorn Kumruen/EyeEm /Getty Images

    When searching for the absolute cheapest hardwood flooring for your house or outbuilding, there is one type that might escape your attention. Rarely is it advertised by flooring manufacturers or displayed prominently. Salespeople rarely steer customers toward it. Yet it is a real, 100-percent hardwood flooring and is inexpensive. In fact, relative to the high cost of hardwood flooring, the superlative extremely cheap holds true.

    This hardwood flooring is not for everybody and certainly not for every space in a home. It is called rustic grade hardwood flooring.

    Rustic Grade Hardwood Flooring Defined

    Rustic grade hardwood flooring is usually different from most hardwoods that are identified merely as rustic. Within the flooring industry, rustic most often indicates appearance, not composition. Nearly any type of flooring, even non-wood-flooring, can be labeled with this rustic designation: laminate, luxury vinyl plank, even ceramic tile in plank form. When any flooring has a wood appearance along with a heavily distressed look, this usually means that it will have that designation: rustic.

    Rustic grade hardwood flooring is different. This term is used by the flooring industry to denote hardwood that falls below the better natural grade flooring, which is suitable for all residential indoor installations. Rustic grade hardwood sometimes is called #2, tavern, or cabin grade flooring. Its surface quality is poorer that natural grade flooring. Its random lengths can often be shorter than even regular commodity flooring, which itself can be short.

    Quality of Rustic Grade Hardwood Flooring Boards

    The main feature that distinguishes rustic-grade from natural-grade solid hardwood and certainly from veneer-bonded engineered wood flooring is its surface imperfections. Rustic grade tends to have a large number of knots, knot-holes, and other open spaces.

    Rustic grade wood flooring also may have grease pencil or Sharpie marks, deeply engrained dirt, and watermarks that require heavy sanding to remove.

    Structurally, rustic grade hardwood flooring may have broken tongues, broken grooves, split ends, and severely warped boards.

    Where to Install Rustic Grade Hardwood Flooring

    Rustic grade hardwood flooring is not suited for all areas of the house. In fact, true to one of its alternate names, cabin-grade, this type of flooring is often installed in spaces other than primary residences. Rustic grade hardwood flooring may be acceptable for primary residential use for some people. Most homeowners, though, will find it primitive for installation in their living rooms and bedrooms.

    Generally, you would never want to install rustic grade wood flooring in any room where people are expected to walk in bare feet or with socks. Appropriate locations and uses include:

    Rustic Grade Hardwood Flooring Dimensions

    Rustic grade hardwood flooring is found in the same dimensions as natural grade flooring, such as 3/4-inch by 2 1/2-inch. Other common widths for rustic grade hardwood are 3 1/4-inch, 4-inch, and 4 1/4-inch. Plank-width rustic grade hardwood flooring can be found, but the cupping of imperfect boards will be more pronounced than with narrower boards.

    Lengths of rustic grade hardwood floorboards can vary from brand to brand, and even within a single brand. But this much is assured: Rarely ever will you find a bundle of long and uniformly-long floorboards.

    Groups of random short and long boards are referred to as nested bundles within the flooring industry. Nested is an appropriate term because when you look at the bundle from a distance, it appears to be a set of long boards. Only on closer examination do you notice that some of these apparently long boards are composed of two, three, or even four shorter boards set on-end.

    Nested bundle rustic grade boards come as short as 10 inches and as long as 6 feet. Quantities of lengths should be evened out within the bundle so that you do not have far more of one length than another. If your nested bundle is composed of only short boards, it will compromise the appearance of your installed flooring. It will take longer to install and the finished project will look chaotic. Make sure ahead of time that you have plenty of long, medium, and short boards.

    Where to Buy Rustic Grade Hardwood Flooring

    Search with a series of names, such as rustic grade, tavern grade, utility grade, and cabin grade. Some retailers have even begun to start referring to this type of flooring as character grade, presumably because it adds rustic character to rooms. Lumber Liquidators is a ready source of rustic grade flooring. Begin with Lumber Liquidators' Unfinished Solid Hardwood category, then search any of the sub-categories below.