Hardwood flooring is graded based on its color, structural integrity, grain, imperfections, and uniformity. When a hardwood floor is basically free from imperfections or inconsistent coloring, it is considered to be select grade or premium quality. The bottom grades are either cabin grade or rustic, depending on the manufacturer. That means that the planks are inconsistent in coloring and grain, they might have natural imperfections, and they might have manufacturing imperfections.
For the longest time, this wood was either thrown out, burned, or used only for very low-budget projects. That’s why it’s called cabin grade; it was used for cabin floors. Many homeowners, trying to recreate a rustic look, have chosen to floor their homes with cabin grade hardwood. The results are impressive.
Distressed wood flooring is wood that has been manufactured to look as if it’s old and weathered. The aging process can be replicated through chemicals such as acids and reactive stains that bleach the wood. Also, the wood can be drilled and sanded to emulate worm holes or errant saw cuts. These are all useful when in the hands of a talented crafter. They’re unnecessary though, if you buy cabin grade hardwood.
Cabin grade hardwood often has wormholes already in the wood. There are runs of pigment or oil that have stained the wood in different colors. There are often burn marks from industrial sanders and saw blades. Some pieces might be truncated by a malfunction. All of these natural imperfections are random; therefore, they look and feel more authentic than just distressing wood.
Another element of the rustic or farmhouse look is varying the width of your hardwood flooring planks. When you do that, you recreate the look of a home that was built with a hardwood floor out of necessity. When you combine cabin grade hardwood with varied widths, it enhances the uniqueness of the floor. Since the wood will be imperfect and the planks different sizes, it emphasizes how rustic the floor is.
Not every plank of cabin grade hardwood will be discolored or inconsistent. Some of them will look flawless. That will contrast obviously with the planks that are not flawless. They’ll be colored slightly differently. However, that can be a desirable look. Furthermore, it will make it much easier to repair your floor in the future. If every plank is slightly different, it won’t be noticeable if you drop in a mismatched plank.