Cutting Through the Mystery of Plain, Rift & Quartersawn Flooring

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Like any business, wood flooring uses industry descriptors that not everyone clearly understands, like the difference between plain, quarter and rift sawn wood, and specifically white oak.

So let’s try to cut through the mystery and give you a new angle of perspective on what these terms refer to as it relates to flooring. While you might easily infer that they involve sawing the wood, the key is in the angle of the saw to the log. And you’ll be surprised at what a difference that angle makes in the grain appearance.


When planks are cut from a log, there are several ways it can be done. If it’s cut flat down the center of the log, then it’s called plainsawn. In this case, the planks feature more dynamic grain patterns, including cathedrals and arched grain that is present down the middle of the board.

Carlisle Plainsawn White Oak

However, unlike many companies, Carlisle uses only the center part of the log from mature, carefully selected trees so that our plainsawn logs consistently contain more of the denser vertical grain for extra strength and stability. Plus, a nearly year-long drying process adds to the stability.

This is why we’ve been able to successfully create plainsawn wide plank floors up to 19” wide for the last half a decade.

Taking a different angle on white oak for dramatic beauty

With rift sawn white oak and quartersawn white oak, the planks are sawn from the log at a slightly different angle, as portrayed in the drawings below:

Three examples of how to cut planks out of a log

This produces inherently stable planks with very straight grain lines and, for the quartersawn, unique ray flecks which add to dramatic beauty of the wood.

Because of the extra labor involved and the fact that so much more wood can go to waste during this selectively cutting process, this increases the cost of the raw materials, and to the client.

Oak floors & Prefinished Oak Flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors
Right: Carlisle Rift Sawn White Oak Flooring. Left : Carlisle Quartersawn White Oak Flooring


It is possible to specify just Quartersawn, or just Riftsawn, depending on the look you want to create. However the most common design is mixing the rift and quartersawn planks which helps to offset some of the increased cost while enhancing the individuality of the floor’s appearance.

Take your style uptown, downtown and everywhere in-between

See new ways to transform your home and give it just the right look for your tastes with two different collections of rift and quartersawn white oak. Our Manhattan collection of engineered hardwood wide plank floors has an elegant vibe that brings to life many intriguing aspects of city life.  Engineered white oak floors featured in this collection can be a perfect complement to your interior.

Prefinished Oak Flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

Want something that bespeaks formal beauty with a highly refined sense of fashion? Consider our Elegant collection in your choice of solid or engineered hardwood. The planks in these collections are well-suited for a variety of installations, including radiant heat and concrete slab.

Wrapping it Up

Carlisle is pleased to offer clients wide plank flooring in plainsawn, quartersawn, and rift sawn cuts. Species availability, cost and lead time all vary depending on the style you choose. Download this helpful guide to learn more and preview the appearance of each style so to understand the overall look you can expect.

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Let us answer all your questions and help you select the best wood flooring for your project. Request a complimentary Design Consultation today to partner with a Carlisle Wide Plank Specialist.
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