What’s the Difference Between Select, Select & Better, and Character Grades?

If you’re going to be starting a hardwood flooring project, you’ll need to know the difference between the grades – Select, Select and Better, and Character Grades. While it may seem confusing at first, it’s not – as long as you take a few minutes to read up on it.

The Deciding Factor

The number of grains in the wood is the true way to tell the difference between select, select and better, and character grades. With that in mind, here are what sets the three classifications apart:

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Character Grade

Character grade consists of wood that has a good deal of color variation and knots. It is also referred to as “cabin grade”. The third is the series, character grade comes in both solid and engineered wood flooring options. Although it’s affordable and attractive, it is not for everyone. If you’re wanting plenty of character in your flooring, you’ll love it though.

Character grade wood is natural with features such as color variations and knots. When it’s lumbered, it is likely to have sap in or on it. Some even has sap on it or (sap stains) when purchased. Often, character grade wood flooring is the choice of homeowners who are going with a rustic or natural decorating scheme.

Solid vs. Engineered Character Grade Wood Flooring?

Both solid and engineered versions of character grade wood flooring are great options for a worn and weathered look but deciding between the two can be difficult. One factor to consider is what type of flooring situation you have.

Engineered wood character grade flooring typically works best for kitchens and bathrooms that may be too moist for solid wood. If you have underfloor heating, engineered flooring is best too.

Bedrooms, living rooms, and lounge areas work well with solid wood flooring as do rooms that have no under floor heaters or extreme weather conditions.

Color Choices

Both engineered and solid wood character grade flooring is available in a wide assortment of colors. You’ll find almost with woods, pale woods, medium woods, and even dark, almost black choices. Options include stained wood and unstained, natural types.

Light colored character woods are amazing to brighten up dark rooms. They work well with modern themes and shabby chic décor too. Light tones give a designer, modern look and feel to a room.


Select is considered a step above character wood. It is not haphazard in coloring or on the rough side such as character grade is but isn’t as uniform as select and better varieties. Select is a nice choice for areas that aren’t rustic but aren’t super formal either.

Select grade is less expensive than select and better is so it works well for rooms with high traffic that you don’t want to spend top dollar on.

Engineered vs. Solid Wood Select Grade

If your room is average temperature and not humid or prone to overflowing washing machines or toilets, solid wood is a great option. For rooms with under floor heaters or extreme climate conditions, engineered works best.


For lightening up a room, go with a lighter shade of flooring or if you are attempting a shabby chic look or modern decorating scheme. Dark flooring is more formal and works well with lighter, larger rooms.

Select and Better

Select and Better is the highest quality grade of hardwood. The grain texture is uniform and the number of grains it contains is the greatest of all the other types. You’ll only find mild color variations with light brown streaks not being allowed to extend over the entire length of the plank or piece. Sometimes small knots are admitted to the selections but they must be stained and very obscure.

If your room is more formal, select and better is the wisest choice. Or, if you particularly want a clean look about your flooring, this grade is the one to go with.

Engineered vs. Solid Wood Select and Better

Both engineered and solid wood are available in select and better options. Solid wood should only go in rooms with stable temperatures that don’t have underfloor heating.


You’ll find dark, medium, and light colors in the two types.

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Quality vs. Grades

The grade of wood is not the quality of it. The quality is measured in hardness and durability while the grades go by the looks.

Which to Choose?

All three grades of wood flooring are nice. The one you choose should be a reflection of your taste and what you want to accomplish aesthetically in the room it is being laid in.

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