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.