Hand Scraped & Distressed Hardwood Floors
Hand scraped floors have been taken in multiple directions since their popularity began to rise at the turn of this century. Originally there were only a few manufacturers offering a five inch wide plank with what was considered more of an antique appearance. Since that period, every manufacturer, or so it seems, came out of the woodwork following prefinished manufacturer Anderson; the early leader.
Where Can I See Them?
I've often told people if you're looking for new floor covering ideas try new or renovated shopping malls, trendy restaurants, and cigar bars. Some may show the wear, but often these places will have numerous ideas and many today contain wood floors. Using larger shopping malls takes far less time. In two hours time you can find more ideas than spending two days driving, and visiting model homes.
Higher end flooring stores typically on the edges of more prominent neighborhoods will often have hand scraped designs in their actual showrooms. Flooring distributors are another source. These are the guys that will not be able to sell to you because of their distribution network of dealers, but a few calls around may get you in the front door. Distributors are often located in larger metropolitan areas.
Will My Choice Become Outdated?
Hand scraped flooring can be confused with other varieties that have come on stream in recent years. The popularity has created other options seen further below. Some prefinished manufacturers will offer machine scraped products found more often in lower priced engineered lines. Patterns can become repetitious if you look close enough. On the flip side, there are many true hand scraped products, done entirely by hand. These are sold prefinished or unfinished if you should prefer a custom stain color.
Reclaimed Wide Plank Flooring
As you may well know, reclaimed flooring is pretty darned hot these days, but it’s not for everyone. Check the video below that discusses the process of turning old barn wood, fences and other hardwoods retrieved from older buildings, into hardwood flooring.
Time Worn Aged
Time worn aged offers characteristics of a hardwood floor that has seen distressing caused by age, such as dark colored staining to highlight the grain in the species itself. In some cases mild contouring is also seen along with character markings.
Wire brushing brings out the grain in the wood. The sapwood is removed by brushing, causing a highlighted grainy effect that is not only visible on close inspection, but obvious feel.
My opinion on wire brushed is more favorable in regards to making it through trends, or not having that dated look in years to come. The appearance can be subtle depending on how deep the brushing goes, compared to the heavily distressed or hand scraped. It will also be far easier to refinish down the road if need be.
Manufacturers have different terminology for their products. An antiqued look typically calls for using a lower grade wood applied with darker colored stains that in turn bring out the highlights of the grain. Lower grade doesn't demonstrate lower quality, but more color variation and character.
Hand sculpted is a term used for flooring that has a smoother distressed appearance. Scraping or sculpting is often smooth and more uniform in appearance. While it was very popular ten years ago (2005), it has lost a considerable amount of appeal.
French bleed is generally made up of deeper beveled edge appearances. Prior to the staining process, end and side joints are highlighted with a rich black or dark colored stain. Similar to sculpted in surface feel, this look had a very brief period of popularity.
Adding to the aged look one can choose pegged flooring. Pegs offer a decorative appearance, but does not offer any structural benefits and is not fastened to subfloors much like older floors of the past.
Pictured is a custom walnut pegged floor I handled for a customer on Nantucket Island. A clear grade solid Ash five inch wide plank was chosen with 1/2” round plugs. It was then sanded and finished on site.
Hand Hewn or Rough Sawn
One of the latest styles appearing around 2012, these types offer the roughest appearance. Sawing marks are clearly visible. Styles include rough or what some call band sawn.
Looking to match your floor with a cabinet distressing effect? Or perhaps an entire custom look. It's not unusual to obtain an unfinished hardwood, have it installed and distressed to your hearts desires. Numerous effects can be added from bleaching, pickeling (pickling), smoked, fumed, beaten with chains, or fastened with antique nails. The sky is the limit when you find the right professional.
Distressed & Going Green. Recycled Rustic Floors
Rustic is in!
Rustic wood floors can take on many forms. Before they became popular in recent years most rustic types were considered lower grade hardwoods. Appearances can vary from a distressed surface finish to those that have an enormous amount of color variation or character markings. Those include large closed or open knots, irregular sawing of the surface, or splits on the surface of the hardwood.
New Hardwoods Or Recycled?
For those that are environmentally conscious, recycled, reclaimed or other reusable hardwoods are the answer. The finds are outstanding, as many older structures were built with older growth heart pine and other valuable hardwoods that are not being forested anymore. Expect prices to be through the roof on most unless you find someone that has no clue on value.
More reasonable priced older flooring can be obtained at local salvage yards, but the piles of yesteryear are dwindling and prices are inching up as many are realizing the green movement and the value of these materials. Older schools that are being torn down offer a great opportunity in maple flooring used for gymnasiums. Other sources in obtaining some of these could be volunteering your own labor to remove from older homes that are being torn down and replaced.
Removing these floors and making them ready for installation again is time consuming. If you happen to stumble on such a project don't expect to salvage all of it. Some could have been exposed to urine stains, nailed to death to prevent squeaks when many were carpeted over years ago, or affected by termites. Removing the boards themselves is probably the easiest task, taking out the nails is another. Some will split if you're not careful. The easiest method for removal and less damage is finding the tongue side of how it was installed and work backward with hammer and pry bars.
Installing Older Recycled Floors
Installation of these classics may not be as simple as you would think. A lot depends on how the floors were maintained over the years, or how they were finished. In other words, if there's quite a bit of filler build up along the edges and ends they will have to be scraped by hand to get a tighter fitting floor. Floors that were left alone will not pose a problem.
Some Floors May Not Have Much Life Left
Some salvageable hardwood may not have much life remaining because they were sanded numerous times. This may be more pronounced with gymnasiums and the like. Older more neglected homes or ones that were covered with carpet probably never had the floors refinished. It's more of a wildcard as to what may be better and what may not be, but I've provided some clues.
The older types that were sanded may not have much material left above the tongue and groove (T&G) system. This does not rule them out from being used again. It's just that the T&G system may not be as effective. New blind nail type fasteners may also compromise the integrity of the boards themselves. All these components are very likely to result in a loose fitting and squeaky floor.
Options could include reusing the floors and installed by the older top nail method, or actually having them re-milled. Doing the latter will result in a narrower width. Keep in mind some may not handle re-milling as it may depend on the style of "relief" on the board undersides.
Recycled, Rustic Conclusion
Most of the above relates to hardwoods produced in modern times or after the widespread use of electricity. Products manufactured prior are likely not to be tongue and groove and generally thicker.