What Is Rift and Quartered Flooring?


From a technical perspective, rift and quartered flooring is made from planks where the growth rings intersect the face of the flooring at an angle from 30 degrees to 90 degrees.  In the photograph to the right, the planks A to C and 1 to 3 are quartersawn—the growth rings intersect the face of the piece at an angle from 70 degrees to 90 degrees.  The remaining pieces are riftsawn—the angle of intersection of the growth rings to the face is from 30 degrees to 65 degrees.

Though we can separate rift from quartered flooring in some species, we generally put both types of planks together in a flooring shipment under the title “Rift and Quartered”.  This flooring has two important physical characteristics.  First, it is harder than plainsawn flooring, the type normally made from the American sawmill manufacturing process.  Second, it is more dimensionally stable, as it shrinks and swells less with changes in equilibrium moisture content in its environment.

From an appearance perspective, rift and quartered flooring presents more of a “vertical grain” or “edge grain” appearance, as the growth rings tend to run longitudinally from end to end of each piece of flooring.  In the Oaks, this appearance is enhanced in quartersawn pieces by “figure”, or “tiger stripe” as it is sometimes called.  This is caused by the woody parenchyma striking the face of the piece of flooring at a highly oblique angle.  This figure is characteristic of European Oak flooring, found there in quite ancient installations.  Thus rift and quartered flooring is traditionally associated with a formal setting in Select, or an English country house setting in Character.  In this country it was characteristic of Mission and Craftsman architecture, as well as older Victorian homes of the late 19th century.