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Hardwood Floor Samples Look Different

Many times I am asked why some hardwoods look so different than others. After all, it may say Brazilian Cherry as an example, but one Brazilian cherry may be different than another. Why?

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Engineered Differences

For example let's look at some exotic hardwood flooring. Appearance is mostly in the manner prefinished manufacturers mill their products. This is not inherent with solid flooring, but only engineered. The appearance can be different depending on the way it is milled.

Lower priced products are cut different from the log forming a distinct difference from what is called solid sawn cut (common solid milling). With sliced cut wood flooring; absent is the lively color and grain variation seen with our examples of Tigerwood and Santos Mahogany below.

Sliced Tigerwood
Solid sawn Tigerwood
Lower priced sliced Tigerwood
Premium priced solid sawn
Sliced Santos Mahogany
Solid sawn Santos Mahogany
Sliced Santos Mahogany
Solid sawn Santos Mahogany

Sliced Cut Explained

Sliced cut hardwoods are soaked to soften the log before actual cutting. The soaking process causes distortion of color with grain expansion creating the different appearance. Don't be alarmed by the soaking process as all material is dried before actual production and has no effect on final quality. However, sliced cut products have their limitations as they cannot be refinished successfully.

Red Oak Engineered Rotary Peel
Red Oak solid sawn
Red Oak Engineered Rotary Peel
Red Oak Solid Sawn

Rotary Peel

Rotary peel hardwoods are those that are milled from the log similar to unrolling a paper towel. Their characteristics offer a lineal or cathedral grain appearance similar to plywood.

Solid Differences

With solid and engineered wood flooring, the origin of where the tree was grown can have an effect on color. This can be especially noticeable in exotic woods. A difference of a few miles can create a mild difference. Hardwood achieves some of its characteristics and color from the soil in which the tree feeds on.

Still Can't Tell The Difference?

With engineered hardwoods, discovering whether it's rotary or sliced can be somewhat difficult if you're new to wood flooring. One method is measuring the actual wear layer (veneer) of the product itself. Sliced cut products measure less than 1/16" whereas rotary peel measure more than 1/16".