Different milling styles make a significant impact on the appearance and orientation of the growth rings in your wood flooring. The type of cut also determines the wood’s mechanical properties and stability throughout its lifetime in your home. Learn more about how the different grain patterns can affect your flooring over time below.
Also known as plain sawing, flat sawn lumber is the most common lumber option and milling style used today, as it is the most inexpensive way to manufacture logs into lumber. As the most common type of cut, flat sawn lumber is also the most cost-efficient when it comes to flooring. When milling flat sawn lumber, a log is cut and then turned 90 degrees before being cut again to yield the next-widest boards. This process minimizes waste and increases efficiency when compared to other methods, but provides the lowest dimensional stability. The result is a beautiful cathedral grain pattern.
Though more expensive than flat sawn flooring, quarter sawn wood has an amazing straight grain pattern that lends itself to high-end finished. During milling, quarter sawn lumber is first cut lengthwise into quarters before being flat sawn. Due to this process, quarter sawn boards are typically narrower, because the log is first quartered, and uses less of the log — producing more waste and resulting in a higher price. Quarter sawn flooring results in a beautiful vertical grain pattern and a distinctive flecking pattern mixed throughout.
As the most expensive milling method, rift sawn lumber is produced similarly to quarter sawn lumber, but produces even more waste. Rift sawn lumber is first cut lengthwise into quarters before milling perpendicular to the log’s growth rings, producing an incredibly linear grain pattern with a lack of flecking. As the least common milling method, rift sawn flooring creates a truly one-of-a-kind look and is the most dimensionally stable cut of lumber available.
A newer and more efficient milling method, live sawn lumber has increased in popularity thanks to its full reveal of the wood. During milling, live sawn lumber is cut into slabs length wide, without changing the orientation of the log. This method allows for all the true graining and knotting to appear, including grain angles from 0 to 90 degrees, cathedral grains, and heartwood rings. Live sawn lumber also produces an exquisite mix of all the milling methods, allowing you to showcase all the grain varieties a tree has to offer.