Natural architectural and interior design features come in various forms, from exposed beams to green roofs. They offer numerous attractive qualities, including creating earthy ambiances, incorporating natural aesthetics into a space, and providing a more environmentally-friendly alternative to other materials when sourced sustainably. Engineered wood floors are one of the most popular ways to embed natural features into a home, as they combine the perks of natural hardwood aesthetics with increased durability and sustainable manufacturing.
Since engineered wood still features an authentic hardwood veneer, it highlights and offers all the attractive appeals of natural design features on its surface. Wood grains in the hardwood exterior play a huge part in creating and showcasing the earthy aesthetics that attracts people to engineered wood flooring. The grain’s role adds many different enticing attributes to the floor’s design and affects the space it lives in. Here is a guide to understanding the different types of wood grains and how they affect your wood floors.
What Are Wood Grains?
As their name implies, wood grains refer to a wood’s granularity and texture. More specifically, grain refers to wood fibers grown in certain arrangements. Wood grains create natural details and come in different forms and patterns. Like zebra stripes, they give the wood an identity based on specific, original designs and placement.
Why Wood Grain Matters in Flooring
Wood grains add visual characteristics to a floor. Their natural essences create unique designs that differ per plank and floor, providing you with special, one-of-a-kind flooring. They help you style different types of spaces and curate certain design aesthetics like rustic or modern style concepts. On top of providing visual details and appeal to your home, wood granularity plays an important role in the strength properties and cut of wood.
Cutting along the grain is considerably easier than against the grain. It allows you to split a fiber instead of trying to cut through multiple layers of fibers. Like the core of an engineered plank, when the grain doesn’t line up, it creates an interlocking structure that is hard to penetrate through and rich in density. Similarly, the number of fibers and grains affects cuts. The more grains that are apparent, the harder they are to cut.
Common Types of Grains
Wood grains differ depending on the direction the tree’s fibers grew. They classify into two main categories: opened or closed. Open grains create coarse, deep, and more noticeable patterns. They occur in hardwoods with large pores like oak and appear in various arrangements, from swirls to large streaks. On the other hand, closed grains create more subtle and orderly looks. They come from hardwoods with smaller and tighter pores and feature less color disparity.
Grain patterns vary in looks, featuring a range of designs. Some of the most common patterns include:
- Consistent lines
- Wavy streaks
- Interlocked streaks
- Irregular markings
Wood grains in flooring also differ per cut type. The cut determines the type of patterns exposed in the planks. Typically, cut patterns fall into three main types: flat grain, straight grain, and curly grain.
Flat grains refer to fiber arrangements in parallel streaks with the face of the plank. Woodcutters create this arrangement when they cut a tree directly at a right angle from its center rings. This process creates the orderly and consistent patterns popular among people who want sleek floor designs.
Straight grains are similar to flat ones, but they differ in cut. They occur when woodcutters cut from the center outwards. This process creates vertical cuttings from the tree’s center ring. Straight-grained planks offer more durability because they include more fiber layers.
Curly grains refer to woodcuts from a tree that grew untraditionally or twisted. No matter how you cut the tree, these trees produce wavy, spiral, and irregular markings. They typically derive from maples and walnut hardwood trees.
Factors That Affect Wood Grains
As alluded to above, many factors affect wood grain patterns. The most influential factors include:
- Natural wood defects like knots
- How the tree grew
- How the tree was cut
- Wood species
- The tree’s pores
Wood Grains in Different Popular Species
The hardwood used in your engineered planks determines the kind of wood grain present in your floor’s features and design. Most people choose their wood species depending on the type of space and look they want to feature in their home. The two most popular style extremes include rustic and modern designs. Rustic interiors highlight more textures and natural details, while modern aesthetics features sleeker and consistent design patterns. Certain wood species work better for different looks.
Many people choose red oak engineered wood flooring when creating a rustic home. Red oak features multiple wavy and irregular granular patterns. Its pores run on the larger end of the scale, producing open grains with vibrant and unique pattern designs. When left natural or stained, red oak showcases striking textures that highlight the floor’s earthy ambiance.
As part of the same family line as red oak, white oak planks also consist of wavy and dramatic granular patterns. However, white oak floors create more subtle looks due to their natural undertones making the grains less vibrant against the flesh of the wood. Depending on their stain, white oak engineered planks work well in both modern and rustic homes, offering a combination of natural textures and orderly sleek looks.
Northern hickory comes in multiple variations within its own species. Some hickory woods feature large pores, while others consist of small and tight pores. They offer opened and closed granular patterns fit for varying aesthetics. Engineered planks featuring hickory rely on the type of cut for specific granular designs. People typically opt for straight or flat-grained cuts.
Engineered floors with maple veneers feature closed granular patterns. They create consistent looks and vary in design depending on the cut and type of maple. Their markings are less noticeable and blend into the natural light coloration of the wood. They attract many people who want a modern home with a slight tinge of earthiness.
Understanding the different types of wood grains makes choosing and finding the perfect wood floors for your home easier. They dictate the patterns and aesthetics of your floors, providing you with different styles. In engineered wood floors, granular patterns affect the surface of your planks and the appearance they create. From earthy and dramatic to subtle and natural, different wood grains bring varying floor designs, textures, and one-of-a-kind details into your home.