How To Select Scraped, Distressed Hardwood Flooring
by: Doug Bolton
Hand-scraped and Distressed hardwood floors are becoming
a popular choice in today’s upscale homes and commercial buildings. These
floors are a newer trend but are rooted in history. Before today’s modern
sanding methods, floors were hand scraped on site to make the floors flat. Today’s
hand scraping is done to add texture, richness and uniqueness.
Distressed hardwood flooring is done by machine or by hand. In an effort to
reduce high labor costs, manufacturers have created machine-made distressed/scraped
looking floors. These are cheaper imitations of the real thing. The problem with
machine distressing is repetition of the pattern. As you look across the floor
you see the same pattern repeating across the floor. This lacks a natural feel
to the floor.
True hand scraped is exactly that – done by
hand. When properly done this method creates a truly unique floor. These floors
differ greatly in the amount of the texture added to the floor and the skill
of the person scraping the floor.
Some manufacturers are just denting, scooping, or roughing the floor. Others
are sanding the floor unevenly to create a worn look. Still others are scraping
the entire surface of the flooring creating the most unique hand made look. Some
product lines allow the customer to choose between heavy, medium and light scraping.
True artisans can create a reclaimed look complete with wormholes, splits and
other naturally occurring character markings.
The labor used in hand scraping varies greatly. Some floor installers simply
have their crew scrape the floor after it is installed in the home. Results vary
widely based on the skill of the person or persons doing the scraping. Lack of
control and expertise can lead to disastrous results. Scraping is a plant environment
is also varied. Some are using illegal immigrants for the scraping labor; one
company uses the federal prison system, smartly not advertised as such. Yet another
uses Pennsylvania Amish craftsman to create their Amish Hand-Scraped collection.
Some homeowners are buying scraped floors unfinished
and applying the finish on site, but most are choosing prefinished. These floors
require special methods to prepare the floor for finishing. Regular on site sanding
can destroy the texture of the floor that the customer is paying for. The most
expensive lines are being finished by hand sometimes referred to as “hand rubbed”.
Most of the prefinished floors are excellent and create convenience and speed
of installation for the contractor and homeowner alike.
One of the great benefits of a prefinished floor is the ability of each plank
to move independently with the changes of humidity in the home. On site finishing
bonds the finish between planks requiring the finish to split as the floor contracts
at dry humidity levels. These cracks rarely create a problem and are natural
in hardwood floors, they are less noticeable in prefinished microbevelled floors.
Scraped floors that have darker finished tend to show the scraping more than
natural finished floors. This is due to the finish pooling in the scrapes causing
shadows drawing your attention to the character in the floor. Most hardwood flooring
manufacturers have web sites showing the consumer what the floors look like.
Many have displays at dealers near your home so you can actually see and touch
what you are buying.
Hand scraped floors are not cheap. They are for those looking for a truly
unique look. The cheaper machine made distressed hardwood floors material can
retail around $10 per square foot. You will pay $15 and up per square foot for
hand scraped. With most things in life, the real thing is hard to imitate and
most people know a fake when they see it. A true hand scraped floor will give
a unique, warm, rich look to your home and will be an absolute guaranteed conversation
piece with your friends and guests.