Cuts & Styles

Choosing Your Hardwood Flooring

We've assembled the following information about the various characteristics of hardwood flooring to help you select the perfect hardwood flooring for your project. Below you will find information on how wood is graded, the hardness of the various species or types of wood, the different cuts of wood, and even engineered wood floors. We hope you find this information helpful and look forward to assisting you with your new hardwood floors. The following PDF Download offers some additional information you may wish to consider:

Because each mill has their own formula for grading the wood flooring they sell R. J. Bernath will decide which mill to use after working with you to determine what is needed for your particular hardwood floor application. Grading is more important with unfinished wood flooring than pre-finished wood flooring.


  • CLEAR ♦ A wood flooring product of mostly heartwood with a minimum number of character marks, providing a uniform appearance while allowing for all heartwood natural color variations.
  • SELECT and BETTER ♦ A wood flooring product with coloration variations produced by differences of natural heartwood and sapwood, small tight knots, and other minor wood characteristics.
  • #1 COMMON ♦ A wood flooring product that contains natural variations in coloration, character, and grain which contribute to and enhance the character of the natural wood. Some small tight knots are to be expected.
  • #2 COMMON ♦ A wood flooring product that will contain large natural variations such as large knots and streaking in the wood as well as manufacturing variations. This furnishes a floor that is suitable for homes, general utility use, or where character marks and contrasting appearance is desired.
  • ANTIQUE ♦ As of such character as will lay a good, serviceable floor. The wood is firm and may contain defects common to wood. Wood comes from reclaimed sources such as old barns, buildings, etc.
  • CHARACTER/NATURAL ♦ A wood floor featuring prominent variations in coloration and allows natural variations in the hardwood to remain as they appear offering a more unique natural look when desired. Knots, mineral streaking, wide color variations from one board to another are common.
Natural characteristics in solid hardwoods look like they’ve been shaped by natural forces.

They often display:

  • Burls Rounded growths on a tree which produce curling, ornamental patterns in lumber.
  • Knots Hard, cylindrical regions marking locations of branches that have been encased by later growth of the tree.
  • Mineral streaks ♦ Olive or grayish markings caused by such environmental factors as trace elements in water or soil.
  • Grain ♦ The direction, size, appearance and quality of the fibers that give hardwoods strength and distinctive patterns.
  • Growth rings ♦ Layers of wood added to a tree during a single growing season.

You might also find this downloadable PDF Document helpful in selecting the proper grade of hardwood floor:


Hardness of a wood is based on the JANKA scale. It must be noted, however, that maintenance and prevention are the most important factors in the longevity of a floor, not the hardness of the wood. Because of the options available in hardwood flooring today, it is important that the client be familiar with the different hardness ratings of each domestic and exotic woods. The hardness of a particular wood is no guarantee of the longevity of the wood. The higher number on this scale the harder the wood. A flooring wood with a higher rating can be perfect for homes that have children or see an elevated amount of foot traffic. We will discuss this aspect of the wood desired as part of educating our customers when purchasing a floor.

  • North American Cherry - 950
  • North American Walnut - 1010
  • Caramel Bamboo - 1120
  • True Teak - 1155
  • Iroko/Kambala - 1260
  • Yellow Birch - 1260
  • Red Oak - 1260
  • Beech - 1300
  • Ash - 1320
  • Amendoim - 1340
  • White Oak - 1360
  • Australian Cypress - 1375
  • Royal Mahogany - 1400
  • Caribbean Walnut - 1400
  • Natural Bamboo - 1410
  • North American Maple - 1450
  • Brazilian Maple - 1500
  • Timborana - 1570
  • Kempas - 1710
  • Padauk, African - 1725
  • Doussie - 1770
  • Hickory - 1820
  • Pecan - 1820
  • Jarra - 1910
  • Merbau - 1925
  • Tigerwood - 2160
  • Santos Mahogany - 2200
  • Caribbean Rosewood - 2300
  • Southern Chestnut - 2670
  • Tiete Rosewood - 2800
  • Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba) - 2820
  • Brazilian Teak (Cumaru) - 3540
  • Tiete Chestnut - 3540
  • Brazilian Walnut (IPE) – 3680


The following cuts of wood are offered in both solid and engineered flooring. The definitions below explain how each type of cut is defined by the relationship of growth rings to a board’s face.

Flat Sawn

Flat sawn boards are cut from the log where the growth rings run parallel to the wide faces of the board. Flat sawn lumber is the most commonly produced as it is very quick to cut and creates less waste. This is the most common type of cut. Cathedral graining is a characteristic of the cut of wood.

Flat sawn boards can be a disadvantage when used for applications such as treads on a staircase, as they can flex or bend when under pressure. But are great for applications where you will be nailing through the board, as it is less prone to splitting.

Riff & Quarter Sawn

Rift sawn lumber is cut with the grain oriented 30-60 degrees to the boards face. This specialized process of cutting the wood perpendicular to the grain allows for a more uniform grain pattern in the wood. This also makes the wood sturdier and more durable.

Quarter Sawn

Quarter sawn boards have a grain orientation that is largely vertical (60-90 degrees) to each face Quarter sawn boards are cut from the log where the growth rings run parallel with the narrow sides of the board. Some species of trees such as oak reveal beautiful ray flecks when quarter sawn, and these boards are prized among furniture craftsman. Quarter sawn boards are much easier to match the grain when boards are laminated together.

For many sawmills, producing quarter sawn boards takes longer to cut, produces less board footage (cubage) and creates more waste.

Quarter sawn lumber produces a beautiful grain, which is ideal for use in areas on display such as cabinets and doors etc. Quarter sawn boards behave in the opposite manner to flat sawn lumber. They have a lot less flex because the grain runs perpendicular to the face of the board. Quarter sawn boards are quite stable and very strong, and are therefore ideal for use in weight-bearing applications.

Rough Sawn

This appearance is the roughest of all. Usually reminiscent of old barns and cabins. Usually has a lot of knots and other characteristic markings and saw blade cuts are shown.


This type of flooring has gained much popularity in recent years. Solid-sawn planks can be up to 20in wide. It should be noted that excessive wide planks will have to be top-nailed. Lengths can be the same or varied and from 3in to 18ft long. We obtain our planks from top specialty mills or reclaimed lumber sources. Reclaimed lumber is very popular at this time and comes from old barns and buildings. Each piece of wide plank has its own character. Planks are laid out first before installation and misted to bring out the natural color. Finishes can be urethane or European-oiled, however, wide plank floors lend themselves better to the European-oiled finish.

Prices are quoted per square foot depending on species, cut, grade and plank size of wood.


Engineered flooring comes in strips and planks and can be unfinished or prefinished depending on your preference. At R. J. Bernath, a Jacksonville flooring company, we carry only high-end manufacturers in our showroom but have access and can order from any manufacturer. These manufacturers offer all hardwood cuts and grades for your particular decorating needs.

Engineered hardwood floors are constructed similar to that of basic plywood with the top surface only being the actual hardwood species selected. The layers of hardwood veneer are glued and heat pressed to create a product that ranges in thickness. Products come in 2-10 ply construction depending on the manufacturer. The thicker the ply the more wear layer available for refinishing at later dates. Engineered hardwoods have different materials under the actual wear layer. Some use poplar while others use some form of luan pine or rubberwood. All of these are softer types of wood. From there, the boards are manufactured to have a tongue or groove on the edges. Stain and finish will then be applied for prefinished floors or wood is left unfinished to be finished at site. Engineered floors are the ideal solution for concrete using a glue-down system. We recommend moisture barriers for installations below and on grade.

The manufactured appearance can have the look of being hand-sculpted, wire brushed, time worn aged, or antiqued. Along with the above techniques, flooring can have a French Bleed or be Pegged. Pegging and top-nailing adds a truly authentic look to the hardwood floors.

Manufactured Appearances
  • Rotary Peeled - has the appearance of plywood.
  • Hand Sculpted ♦ this appearance has a smoother distressed appearance. The sculpting or hand scraping is more uniform in appearance.
  • Wire Brushed ♦ this brings out the grain in the hardwood. The sapwood is removed by brushing, causing a highlighted grainy effect that is not only visible on close inspection, but can actually be felt.
  • Time Worn Aged ♦ This offers characteristics of a hardwood floor that has seen distressing caused by age, such as dark colored staining to highlight the grain in the hardwood species itself. In some cases, mild contouring of the hardwood is also seen along with character markings.
  • Antiqued ♦ this look typically uses a lower grade of hardwood which has darker colored stains applied that in turn bring out the highlights of the grain. Lower grade does not demonstrate lower quality, but more variation and character.
  • French Bleed ♦ This appearance has a beveled edge where the side joints are highlighted with a rich black or dark colored stain.
  • Pegged ♦ Pegs offer a decorative appearance but does not offer structural benefits. They are not fastened to subfloors like the older floors in the past.

Prices are quoted per square foot depending on species, cut, grade and plank size of hardwood.


Engineered hardwood flooring and solid-sawn hardwood flooring can come pre-finished with stain to final protective coat by the manufacturer. This allows the client to have the hardwood flooring installed in a shorter amount of time without the inconvenience of the finishing process.

R. J. Bernath can pre-finish wood floors in our own warehouse with custom-blended stains and final coating of your choice - urethane or European-oil. Installation can be performed by R. J. Bernath or the installer of your choice. Hence, eliminating the time and mess of the finishing process.

Industry professionals are welcome so call us for a quote!


R. J. Bernath installs medallions and borders if desired. We offer a variety of pre-designed pieces as well as ones that are custom-designed.

Most common medallions and borders are manufactured similar to engineered hardwood floors when considering thickness. The top layer or veneer is approximately 5/16" in thickness. The underlying makeup is generally high grade Baltic birch plywood. Both veneer and ply is glued and attached under intense pressure. Design pieces themselves are made up from a few individual pieces into hundreds (mosaic) depending on which type of design you are seeking. Designs are typically installed when hew hardwood floors are being laid.

Contact the Jacksonville flooring experts at R.J. Bernath and schedule your appointment to tour our showroom. We look forward to serving you!