It's All in the Saw

The look, performance, and cost of solid wood flooring depends in large part on how the boards are cut from the log. Plainsawn (also called flatsawn) boards (A) have growth rings that run at angles from 0 to 45 degrees to the wide surfaces of the board, resulting in a lively face with the loops and swirls of a topographic map. In contrast, the face of a quartersawn board (B) is orderly and restrained, the result of growth rings that run from 45 to 90 degrees to the wide surfaces.

Sawing methods also affect how a floor reacts to changes in moisture. Plainsawn boards shrink and swell primarily across their width, which can open or close cracks between boards as the seasons change. Quartersawn boards change primarily in thickness, where the movement is less dramatic and far less noticeable. Quartersawn boards also wear more evenly and take finishes better. Add to that higher manufacturing costs, and it's no surprise that quartersawn flooring typically commands 25 to 50 percent more than flatsawn products, whether solid or engineered.

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