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What You Should Know about the Grading of Oak: Type, Product, and Quality

Timber comes in different forms, and there are various kinds of hardwood that have been used by builders and furniture-makers for centuries. But there is one kind of hardwood that has always been preferred, and oak is a standout for a range of reasons, namely its durability, strength, resistance to warping, attractive look, and more. But oak is also graded according to different attributes, and if you’re planning to use oak for your home or are thinking of restoring old oak furniture or beams, here’s what you should know about the grading of oak: type, product, and quality.

The importance of grading oak


Builders, architects, furniture designers, and joiners working with oak understand that the quality of the timber is important. This is why timber suppliers will make sure to grade the timber and even provide buyers with ratings. European Standard grades will give buyers a clear and concise rate once you know the qualities to look for. And these qualities include the type, product, and quality, as mentioned above, which will give you a good understanding of the timber’s strength and its aesthetic property as well.

The three grading factors

1. Type

Construction experts use two kinds of European oak: Quercus Robur and Quercus Petraea. Since the genus of the oak is Quercus, designated with the letter Q.

2. Product

The product is separated into 4 main categories: boules, selected boards, square-edged, and beams. A boule is a board that has been cut lengthwise, and it includes the sub-bark and bark. Boules are supposed to be cut from only a single tree. They can have different thicknesses but should have a measurement of a minimum of 2 metres. Selected boards, meanwhile, are identical in appearance to boules, but they don’t have to come from only one tree. Square-edged is the designation assigned to boards or strips that are kiln-dried and with edges sawn and cut to size, and they don’t have the oak bark. Beams are thicker than the other products mentioned, and they are cut to any required length. The quality of beams is judged based on the feature distribution along their entire length, and if you’re lucky enough to have older oak beams in your property, you can assess their quality for beam restoration to see if they are worth restoring. Fortunately, most older oak beams are made with high-quality oak, which makes them perfect for restoration.

3. Quality grade

The quality grade is divided into prime, first and second, joinery, and character. A grade of ‘A’ or prime stands for the best in quality, and grades 1 to 3 refer to a lower quality level. The timber’s quality is judged based on the features, and these features are flaws or imperfections on the wood’s surface or appearance. These ‘flaws’ can be preferred due to their character and novel look and appeal, too.

With prime oak, there will hardly be any knots, and it’s the best option for cladding, joinery, or furniture. First and second or FAS is equal to grade 1 and has vast similarities with prime or A grade. It’s more budget-friendly compared to prime. Joinery or grade 2 has more sap and knots and is used more often for structural features. Character or grade 3 is comprised of more variations in colour, knots, and splits, but these sometimes make it more in-demand, especially for rustic designs.

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