Understanding Oak Grades

What Is the Difference Between Oak Grades?

Products Featured:

  • Oak Beam Shelf

    Kiln Dried Oak Shelves/Boards

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  • Set of Kiln Dried Oak ShelvesColoured Oak Oil Choices

    Oak Shelves – Kiln Dried with L-Shape Brackets

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  • Oak Shelves with Straight Brackets

    Oak Shelves – Kiln Dried with Straight Brackets

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  • Planed Oak Beam Fireplace/Oak Beam Mantle Piece

    Oak Beam Fireplaces and Mantelpieces – Planed Only

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  • Sawn Only Oak Beam Fireplace

    Oak Beam Fireplaces and Mantelpieces – Sawn Only

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  • Oak Beam Fireplace

    Oak Fireplace Beam Mantle / Mantelpiece – Planed and Sanded

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There is a variety of standards for grading oak, with different systems in place for American Oak, Australian Oak and European Oak. All of Celtic Timber’s Oak is sourced from FSC approved suppliers in France and are therefore graded under the European Standard EN 975-1.

All oak grades classified under the European standard start with the letter Q for Quercus, the Latin name for oak.

The second letter of the grade indicates the type of product:

  • QB (Boules) – Oak supplied cut with any diameter/thickness and in its natural, circular tree shape
  • QS (Selected Boards) – Long length boards with large widths, cut to a variety of thicknesses. Mostly used in trade and construction industries
  • QF (‘Fixe’, Strips and Square Edged Timber) – Sawn, square edged and dimensioned timber. Cut to standard sizes or to the customer’s specifications. Supplied in uniform bundles
  • QP (Beams) – Oak supplied with square edges and cut to customer’s specifications or in standard sizes. Most of our oak is QP, which is popular for fireplaces/mantelpieces, shelving and oak furniture.

The grade is either finished with A for exceptional quality oak or with a number 1-4 with 4 being the lowest quality of oak. Expect a larger amount of bigger knots and piths in the lower grades compared to the higher grades.

The following oak grades have been standardised:


Boules Oak Tree

  • QBA
  • QB1
  • QB2
  • QB3
  • QB4

Selected Boards

Kiln Dried Oak Shelves and Boards - Planed and Sanded

  • QSA
  • QS1
  • QS2
  • QS3
  • QS4

Fixe/Strips and Square Edged Timber (Joinery Boards)

  • QFA
  • QF1
  • QF2
  • QF3
  • QF4


Contemporary Finished Solid French Oak Beam

  • QPA
  • QP1
  • QP2

What is the difference Joinery Grade Oak, Prime Grade Oak and Character Grade?

As you can see above, oak grades can be pretty technical. So, rather than using the various codes, other terms have been developed by timber suppliers over time in an attempt to simplify the grading system.

  • Prime Grade Oak is the equivalent of A/Exceptional quality
  • Joinery Grade is the equivalent of Grade 1 Oak
  • Character Grade is the equivalent of Grade 2/3

It should be noted that these terms are open to interpretation and will differ depending on each oak supplier.

Don’t forget to have a browse through our oak beams, oak shelves and handmade oak furniture,

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