Here's What Rustic Hardwood Flooring Looks Like

  • 01 of 05

    Rustic Hardwood Flooring: For Workshop or Home

    Rustic Hardwood Flooring - Red Oak
    Rustic Hardwood Flooring - Red Oak. Copyright Lee Wallender; Licensed to

    Recently, I was looking for wood floor for a shop. By definition, quality of hardwood was barely an issue: it's a dang shop. Anvils get dropped on it. Mud tracked in. I was looking for the cheapest hardwood available, bar none. Right?

    Yet as I began looking more, I began thinking that if I was going to do a job, I'd better do it right. Yet how "right" do you want to do a work shop's wood floor? How much love does it deserve? How low can you lower your expectations, without getting mad at yourself later for not having the foresight to put some quality into the project?

    For me, that's the constant battle, this remodeling mind mind-block: the battle between the angel on one shoulder, the devil on the other. The angel won--if you can call installing 3/4" rustic red oak hardwood in a workshop "angelic."

    See Article - Which Wood Floor to Put in a Workshop?

    Rustic Grade Goes Either Way

    Rustic Grade is a term used in the flooring industry to denote hardwood that falls between the better natural grade (absolutely suitable for residential indoor installation, no question about it) and tavern or cabin grade flooring, which is only the worst-of-the-worst installations.

    Rustic-grade hardwood flooring may be acceptable for residential use for some people. Others may find it too rough-around-the-edges for installation in their living room. Personally, I would install it in either location.

    Also, there is rustic and there is rustic-grade. Anything can look rustic: fake distressed plank laminate looks rustic. But here we're talking about rustic as a wood-grade term.


    Red oak is the workhorse of the hardwood flooring world, and for good reason: it's cheap, hard (though not the hardest around), and looks great with a clear coat of sealer.

    This wood cost $1.68 per square foot (July 2011) from Lumber Liquidators. A slightly better-grade rustic-grade red oak--but thinner, at 1/2"--was also available to me at $1.89 per square foot.

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Dimensions of rustic hardwood flooring boards

    Rustic hardwood floor dimensions
    Rustic hardwood floor dimensions. Copyright Lee Wallender; Licensed to
    While a number of different dimensions are available, I ended up with rustic grade red oak hardwood flooring, dimensions of 3/4" by 2 1/2".

    If you are accustomed 2x4's being smaller than two inches by four inches, you may be surprised to learn that, within the wood flooring world, the measurements listed above are "true" measurements.

    Due to the angle of the shot in this image, it's difficult to see that this is so. That's why I have placed dotted lines to show the actual edges of the floorboards.

    Other common widths for rustic grade hardwood are 3 1/4", 4", 4 1/4". Another thickness you will find is 1/2".

    Very wide flooring sounds like a great idea, but it's an idea that works better with premium grade flooring. With rustic, you'll encounter more cupped boards than in the narrower widths.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Lengths of rustic hardwood flooring boards

    Rustic hardwood floor lengths
    Rustic hardwood floor lengths. Copyright Lee Wallender; Licensed to

    Once again, lengths of rustic hardwood floorboards will vary from brand to brand, and even within a single brand. But this is assured: rarely ever will you buy a bundle of uniformly-long floor boards.

    Bundle of short and long boards are called "nested bundles" by the flooring industry. Nested is an appropriate term, because when you look at the bundle from a distance, it looks like long boards. Only on closer examination do you notice that some of these "long boards" are composed of two, three, or even four shorter boards.

    The nested bundle pictured here (unpacked) is representative of rustic-grade hardwood flooring bundles you will encounter. 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 made up of only one-, two- or three-foot long boards, it's no good. Make sure ahead of time that you have plenty of longs, mediums, and shorts.

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Knots and open spaces in rustic grade hardwood flooring

    Knots and open spaces in rustic hardwood flooring
    Knots and open spaces in rustic hardwood flooring. Copyright Lee Wallender; Licensed to

    One main feature that distinguishes rustic-grade from natural-grade (or better) hardwood flooring is the presence of knots, knot-holes, and other open spaces.

    This bundle of rustic hardwood red oak has relatively of these features. Small holes can be filled in with wood filler, if you want.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Imperfections in rustic grade hardwood flooring

    Imperfections in rustic grade hardwood flooring
    Imperfections in rustic grade hardwood flooring. Copyright Lee Wallender; Licensed to
    I don't consider knots to be an imperfection in rustic hardwood flooring, but I do consider these to be:
    • Grease pencil or indelible marker.
    • Deeply engrained dirt.
    • Water marks.
    Other imperfections: broken tongues, broken grooves, split ends, severely warped boards, etc.