Sun Mountain Blog

Decisions, Decisions – Knotty or Select Wood?

Aside from the design, the species of wood you choose may be the most important decision you make when selecting doors for your home. And, depending on the species, there may be the wood grade to consider: Knotty vs. Select!

Knotty and Select Hickory Doors
Left: knotty Hickory door with Snake River glaze finish and medium distress (design SQ-0200-D008-P); right: select Hickory door with Clear Coat finish (design TR-0200-D008).

Many wood species are designated by “grade,” including “knotty” (sometimes called “character”) and “select” (clear, with few or no knots). The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) establishes rules for grading lumber, which provide consistency in the marketplace and help manage quality expectations. This grading is based on the size and number of clear “cuttings” that can be obtained from a board when it is cut and used for various products, such as furniture and flooring. Higher grades require wider and longer cuttings of clear wood—wood with limited or no knots—than the lower grades.

Knotty and Select Cherry Doors
Left: character (knotty) Cherry door with Yampa River glaze finish (design SQ-0200-D008); right: select Cherry door with Clear Coat finish (design SQ-0800-D121).

Typically, lower grades are the more economical choice than the higher grades. But cost may not be the only reason to choose a knotty grade. A home’s style may also be a factor.

The distinct character of knotty wood grades is a perfect complement to the Rustic Style, from Mountain Contemporary to Industrial Chic. Knotty woods are also a popular choice for homes with certain historical references, such as the charming Cottage Style.

Rustic Alder Doors
Left: knotty Alder double doors with Yampa River glaze finish (design SQ-0206-D010); right: knotty Alder door with Slate River glaze finish (design SQ-0200-D008-P).

On the other hand, the sleek select grades of wood are favored in many Modern Minimalist settings, as well as in formal Traditional homes or those that evoke the Victorian era. Select wood doors are also a great option for painting (see why Poplar is a smart choice for painted doors).

Modern and Traditional Alder Doors
Left: select Alder door with custom finish (design TR-0300-D045); right: select Alder double doors with Mocha stain finish (design SQ-0200-D001-C).