Hand Scraped Oak Flooring
Hand-scraped hardwood is now ubiquitous. Such a style of contours, rough texture, age, character marks, and dark staining extends across all grades of hardwood and all species. Yet, even with its current popularity, customers generally stick with distressed domestic species, particularly walnut, hickory, cherry, and oak.
Hand-scraped or not, oak comes in two varieties. Light red heartwood and sapwood characterize red oak, while white oak is better known for a white, cream, or light brown shade. Both have open, somewhat coarse grain, but white oak has greater durability, with a Janka scale rating of 1360. Red oak's is 1290. Additionally, white oak has a high concentration of tannic acid, which makes the hardwood more fungi- and insect-resistant, and is better for machining. Red oak, on the other hand, is better-suited for bleaching – one technique used to distress hardwoods.
No matter the species used, hand-scraped oak flooring is aged or textured with a variety of techniques. Aged hand-scraped oak flooring, going by names "Time Worn Aged" or "Antique," is self-explanatory for distressing, although the appearance is further exaggerated with dark staining, contouring, and highlighting the grain. An additional dimension is texture may be added through one or more methods: "Wire Brushed" indicates the grain is accented and the sapwood removed; "Hand Sculpted" describes a smoother distressed surface; "Hand Hewn and Rough Sawn" is a descriptive moniker for the roughest distressed hardwoods, and "Custom Unfinished" involves installing an unfinished hardwood and then distressing it by hand. For this hand-scraped oak flooring, a professional may use a combination of bleaching, pickeling, beating with chains, or fastening with antique nails.
Nevertheless, no matter the technique used to distress the oak, hand-scraped hardwoods essentially come in two varieties: rustic or classic. The former indicates a preponderance of character marks on the oak, including mineral streaking, color variation, and knots. Classic hand-scraped oak, on the other hand, indicates trained craftsman, such as Amish woodworkers, distressed the hardwood by hand.
In purchasing hand-scraped oak flooring, understand the hardwood gives a rustic, aged character to a space, and ask yourself if you plan to keep this look several years down the line. If so, be prepared to refinish the hardwood and have the right tools on hand, such as a floor abrader to remove the finish without diminishing the rough, worn surface. If not, consider a product that can be sanded down, such as unfinished oak or engineered with a thicker wear layer, or be prepared to replace the hand-scraped product with standard flooring.
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