The general trend in hardwood flooring over the past several years is a move away from formal décor towards spaces with a homier, more lived-in look. Rustic chic, for example, has been steadily gaining in popularity and shows no signs of slowing. Floors with greater texture and a slightly less pristine appearance are not only in vogue but are also quite practical. Here are a variety of texturing and edging techniques that can add character to your wood floor, while at the same time masking scratches, dents and imperfections.
For those seeking a traditional and rustic (though not necessarily worn) look, hand-scraped floors are a good option. Hand-scraping is the traditional method of smoothing lumber by pulling a draw knife – a long blade with handles on both sides – across the boards. This process results in a sturdier floor by scraping away softer wood on the outside of each plank and exposing the harder grain underneath. Scrape marks from a draw blade are commonly seen in the floorboards of pre-industrial homes.
Nowadays, most planks are milled with machines, making them smoother and far more uniform than those usually found in, say, Colonial homes. Hand-scraping is still employed today, however, to recreate that traditional character in machined lumber to add a more varied texture. Naturally, hand-scraping creates planks that each have a slightly different shape and thus a unique, “hand-made” feel.
Many flooring companies today advertise their planks as “hand-scraped,” though in reality they achieve the effect with machines. If you wish to replicate the true character of traditional hand-scraped lumber and also have a say in the depth and degree of the texturing, be sure to choose a company that actually performs this process by hand. At Oshkosh Designs, all of our texturing is performed by hand by our experienced artisan woodworkers.
Like hand-scraping, wire-brushing is a technique for scraping away the soft exterior of a plank to expose the harder grain below. Instead of a blade, however, this technique involves scraping away material with a wire-bristled brush. Running your hand along these floors, you can easily feel the contours of the woodgrain. Wire-brushing also creates a somewhat rustic or lived-in effect, though is often more subtle than hand-scraping. This is an excellent option for high-traffic areas and homes with children or pets, as minor dents and scratches will more easily blend in with the texture of the floor.
Another way to add a country feel to your wood floor is by shaping the edges of each plank. Beveling is accomplished by shaving the edge at a 45-degree angle, which creates a “V” shape when the boards are pressed together. A similar method, called “pillowing,” creates a “U” shape between planks. While square, or “kissing,” edges eliminate the possibility of dust and dirt collecting in the seams, they are more difficult to install and tend to be somewhat formal looking. Beveled edges, however, make it easy to install planks by masking subtle differences in the height of each. If you like the idea of easy installation but are concerned about high maintenance, micro-beveled edges create much smaller seams and thus cut down on the amount of dust that will collect.
Distressing and Patina
Finally, current trends in flooring tend to celebrate the aged, lived-in look. This of course presents a challenge for the homeowner who wants a new floor with an old look. This is where distressing and patina come in.
Distressed floors, like distressed jeans, recreate the signs of wear by marking up the surface. This can be accomplished by denting, scratching, chipping, burning and even boring holes to mimic those of worms and termites.
Patina, strictly speaking, is the natural sheen that wood acquires with age and wear. While true patina can only be achieved with time and the elements, treatment with minerals, chemicals, paints and UV rays can approximate this effect with impressive accuracy.
Employing some of the above methods can add character and uniqueness to your wood floors. But having so many options to choose from can make the task of selecting a floor a little daunting. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced professional. The expert artisans at Oshkosh Designs have over 25 years of experience in the wood flooring business. They can help ensure that you choose a hardwood floor that you’re happy with for its lifetime – and yours.