Wood Cuts and Grain Pattern Differences

The Basics of Plain Sawn, Quarter Sawn, Rift Sawn, and Live Sawn Flooring

At The Fantastic Floor, we offer a wide range of affordable hardwood flooring options, featuring all of the top wood species and hardwood brands. It’s important to us that we keep our customers informed about their options every step of the way – and that includes cuts and grain patterns, which has a major impact on the appearance of the flooring. Below is some information on the major cut types and the look they produce, to better help you make your purchasing decision.

Plain Sawn

plain sawn

Plain Sawn, also commonly called flat sawn, is the most common sawing method for US flooring. This cut brings out the patterns of the tree’s annual rings. The grain characteristic is a cathedral pattern that is prominent in woods like Oak. This cut produces the maximum yield, making it an especially affordable hardwood flooring option.

Quarter Sawn

quarter sawn

A quarter sawn cut causes a beautiful plumed or flared appearance referred to as “rays” or “flecks,” often appearing shiny or reflective. The medullary rays are not present in every wood species and are most common in red oak and white oak. All the boards are cut of radial grain, with growth rings positioned at between 60- and 90-degree angles to the face of the board.

Rift Sawn

rift sawn

Rift sawn grain is very straight and runs vertically on the face of the board, this cut produces lumber of the greatest stability and wear. This technique cuts boards vertically, so the annual rings are nearly 90 degrees to the face. Since this is relatively wasteful, rift sawing is much less common than plain and quarter sawing.

Live Sawn

live sawn

A very popular cut for white oak, live sawn produces much wider boards than other methods. The grain pattern is a mixture of the cathedral flat grain in the center of the face and vertical quarter grain near the edges, creating an attractive nature flooring look.

Rift & Quartered

rift and quartered sawn

Rift & Quartered flooring is highly valued for its unique texture and color combination. It brings together vertical and radial grain and offers strength and durability.

Medullary Rays / Flecks

medullary rays flecks

Medullary rays radiate out from the center and run like ribbons perpendicular to the grain. Quartersawn wood exposes these rays. While all trees have medullary rays, only certain species will display them in an obvious fashion. The exposed medullary rays produce a kind of figure in the wood and are commonly called “ray fleck.”

Get Started

Take the first step toward getting your new hardwood from The Fantastic Floor, your US flooring expert. Contact us to learn more about the options we offer.