Introduction

Ultra-wide, high-grade oak engineered flooring boasts a comfortable underfoot feel, exceptional stability due to its extra-thick core and surface layers, making it ideal for expansive installations. Its consistent and aesthetically pleasing appearance, with uniformity in grain patterns and colors, elevates the visual appeal across large areas. 

In commercial engineering projects, compared to other flooring materials, ultra-wide engineered oak flooring offers both the warmth of wood and remarkable durability. Its high-grade quality, with fewer imperfections, allows for various color finishes, making it suitable for a wide range of decorative styles. This flooring combines the warmth of wood with exceptional longevity, catering to diverse aesthetic preferences in public spaces.

Despite the numerous advantages of ultra-wide engineered oak flooring, there are very few products available in the market. The scarcity of these wide products stems from various reasons. Taking the example of 300mm wide, AB grade engineered oak flooring, this article will analyze the reasons for the scarcity from the perspective of oak veneer sawing process.

Lumber Sawing

  • Grade Classification

The grade of the timber in general, refers to the number of knots, sapwood and “imperfections” that the particular wooden flooring product (plank or parquet) would allow.

According to the different degrees of defects in European oak, the European oak are classified into grades A, B, C, D, and E. The specific classification is as follows:

You can also check our previous post for a deeper understanding of different grades. https://guolianflooring.com/what-are-the-differences-between-oak-of-different-grades/

Here are the examples of Grade A, Grade AB and Grade ABC.

Grade A
Grade AB
Grade ABC

Indeed, higher-grade veneers have strictest requirements for defects, primarily focusing on the quantity and size of dead knots, and color variation, the proportion of sapwood in particular.

  • Lumber sawing

Thick flooring lamella (top layer of engineered flooring, thickness no less than 2.0mm) are mostly obtained through the process of sawing logs. In the following video, we can learn about the process from logs at the timber yard to lamella suitable for engineered flooring production.

In order to obtain lamellas with greater width, logs are sawn in the plainsawn pattern, as shown in the picture below. Different widths of plainsawn lamellas with V-shaped grain patterns can be obtained.

Generally speaking, without considering the width factor, one cubic meter (m3) of wood can produce 25 to 30 square meter (m2) of 4.0mm thick lamellas.

It is important to note that among the lamellas obtained, those that are too narrow or lamellas through the center must be screened out, and any defects and sapwood should be cut away from the remaining wide lamellas. The final yielding rate of the wide lamellas is less than 20%. The requirement for the log diameter is so strict that the resources are scarce.

For a requirement of 300mm width engineered flooring products, the width of the floor lamellas needs to be 320mm.

Before drying, the width of the raw material needs to reach 350mm, and the lumber including the sapwood needs to reach 400mm.

Therefore, the diameter of the log with bark must be at least 600mm. Otherwise, the yield rate is too low.

  • Rarity of Grade AB

 Since grade AB requires a high standard regarding defects, after grading and sorting, most of the sawn lamellas are picked off, resulting in an even smaller quantity of AB grade lamella products. Therefore, to obtain high-grade oak lamellas, it is necessary to start with logs.

European Oak has a fine texture and uniform color, making it the best choice for high-end oak flooring. The European oak on the market mainly comes from countries like France, German and Belgium, including Sessile Oak (Quercus Sessilis, with a height of over 30 meters), and the English Oak(Quercus Robur, with a height of 20-30 meters) mainly from France and Italy. However, not all European oak are qualified.

Here is the geographical distribution of European oak resources. ( a ) Quercus robur L. and ( b ) Quercus petraea.

In order to obtain high-grade veneers, only the “Barrel Grade” white oak are qualified. Among the Barrel Grade white oak logs, which have fewer branches, the yield rate of AB-grade lamellas is only 10%, and that of A-grade is just 5%.

The remaining large amount of lamellas, despite still having a fine texture, are classified as Grade CDE due to various growth defects, or are resized to smaller dimensions.

Summary

From the above, it’s evident that high-grade ultra-wide veneers demand high-quality and sizable diameters of timber. During the sawing process, the yield for the desired single sheet is less than 20%, an extremely low percentage.

Subsequently, we’ll delve into analyzing the available resources to gain a more detailed understanding of the limited supply.

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