White Hardwood Floors
White hardwood floors are making a comeback. It’s surprising white is actually being favored once again after trends to natural colors changed around the year 2000. It’s unclear why white is returning (slowly) but one thing is obvious; any color goes these days. Strangely, darker toned hardwoods have the momentum today but demand for lighter stained white floors is also increasing, particularly in southern states or those winter retreat areas for many of the luckier ones.
Compared to 2000, the number of manufacturers offering more traditional smooth finished white floors has fallen off, but a handful still keep production that include Kahrs, Lauzon and Mirage. Kahrs itself offers one near pure white in their Ash Alabaster (right) and a half dozen other ranging from Pearl, Opaque and an Arctic color tone. Lauzon provides two near whites in Hard Maple and Beech. Finally, Mirage has what they term a Nordic available in Red Oak and Maple along with a half dozen near whites to light grays in their Flair collection.
Bruce Fulton Plank - Solid 3/4 Inch
Likely to be the longest lasting white floor that has survived design styles over the years is the Bruce Fulton Winter White line (shown). Although it's not at the top of the quality scale, this combination strip or plank floor is widely used by decorators seeking a contemporary motif at affordable prices. However, the high gloss finish may not be suited for everyone.
The picture shown doesn't provide a true representation of the Winter White. Expect a brighter white. The product is a nail or staple down installation type only.
Shows Flaws and Cracks - Cheap Products
When it comes to lighter colored finished products specifically with prefinished, quality should be exceptional. Without it, the installer is likely to grumble. Exceptions today can include character type wider plank hardwoods as they were never designed to look flawless.
On an individual note I recall doing many white 2 1/4" solid strip floors for a builder on Sanibel Island, Florida in the early nineties. Folks, any marginal product will show every flaw imaginable. In this case we practically bought cases and cases of caulk used as filler for the joints on a "special" builders grade product.
Yes, I grumbled! I also asked; why the devil was this stuff being sold. All that caulk will eventually get pushed out once the floor starts to breath in and out (seasonal contraction and expansion) After all, the homes are in excess of one million dollars. The response..."it's good for refinishing work" in years to follow. Makes you wonder eh?
It's true, but the extra efforts called upon for installers to make it right can take hours upon hours, while never getting paid for it either. Don't get me wrong, it is common to spend some time filling manufacturer flaws, but this one went over the edge. Additionally, what the homeowner does not know is most filler becomes a dust magnet. Over time the dirt will begin to show. Keep in mind, this is not true with the higher quality products mentioned in this article.
Wire Brushed Off White Colors
While stark white colors are not trendy as they were twenty years ago, what is being seen more of is mild or soft brushed floors with off white colors. Some have a heavy textured look and feel while most are very mild, or enough to see and feel some graining. Wire brushing is not limited to prefinished floors as most are lead to believe. However there are few and far in-between that actually offer this service.
Shown below are two of my white or light colored hardwoods. Key Largo is designed with a very light wire brushing effect that brings out a soft grain feel and look. White Fences on the other hand is a light character Maple with a smooth surface.
Wire brushing machine
Unfinished And Stained White
Other options for white floors include having the floor installed unfinished, sanded, stained and finished with the desired gloss level. Whiter tones can be trickier to apply so it’s wise to only work with those that have the experience.
With smooth site finished solid floors, problems have always been gapping in wintermonths for those that don’t have a good climate control system or a humidification system in place. Gapped white floors in this scenario will scream at you. The ideal way to minimize or eliminating gapping, is choosing a quality unfinished engineered product. Don’t let uneducated opinions keep you away from it. Times have changed with higher quality unfinished engineered hardwoods.
Unfinished Engineered Manufacturers
Several higher quality unfinished engineered are available today. Aside of our own productline that offers one of the thickest wear layers (5.2 mm) in the industry, others include Owens Plank and Garrison (imported). Those that offer more affordability for those with less money to spend include Pacific Hardwoods in California and Howell Hardwood of Dothan, Alabama, but quality does not compare.
Species Suited for White Stains:
• Red Oak
• White Oak