Custom Hand Scraped Floors
What is a "Hand Scraped Wood Floor" and why would I want it in my home?
Hand scraped wood floors point back to a time long ago when a select few wood flooring installers would scrape their client’s wood floors to create a unique hand-made, rustic look. Homeowners began to recognize the advantages which went beyond the appealing style and look. These floors were finished with a texture that hides the typical bumps, bruises, and scratches that other floors can’t hide so easily. How can you mess up these floors? They’re already distressed?
Today, solid hand scraped wood floors are still finished by hand, really. The actual technique involved in developing the hand-scraped texture differs from contractor to contractor but I'll share with you what I've personally done on my own projects.
First, we’ll start with the wood. We prefer to use #1 or #2 common unfinished solid red oak; installed in the same manner that you would expect with a sanded finish floor. Second, the tool. The tool is as important as the technician. I use a heavy duty (preferably steel body) tool that loosely resembles a paint scraper (on steroids) with a 4-sided 2-inch wide steel blade and a 16" long steel handle. The craftsman will sharpen the blade with a fine mill file until the blade is very very sharp, usually rounding the edges to prevent gouging the wood. The blade can take a flat shape or a more aggressive convex shape, depending on what the finish is to look like.
The target floor (in most cases Red Oak) is worked in 4 foot by 4 foot sections. Third, the hand scraping process. The area is dampened with water using a towel or sponge. Starting at the left side of the section, the technician will place the blade down on the floor, holding the handle in the right hand and putting significant downward pressure on the blade frame with the left hand. The tool is pulled and scraped along the surface of the wood (either across or with the grain) in a very straight line with as much or as little pressure as is needed to create the desired effect. The scrape runs are done parallel to one another, creating a distressed texture all the way across the target work area. The dampened surface will tell the technician which areas he might have missed.
Fourth, the pre-stain screening. After the floor has been completely scraped, the scrapings will be swept up and the floor will be smoothed out with a sanding screen on a rotary floor buffer. This will help to remove any splinters or unusually rough areas. The floors are then swept, vacuumed, tacked, and stained. Fifth, the stain and finish. The procedure to stain and finish the floor is no different than how sanded finish wood floors are treated. We use a minimum of 3 coats of sealer/finish and the spread rate of stain and sealer is significantly affected by the distressed texture of the wood.
Why would anyone want to take a paint scraper and rough up the surface of their wood floors? Well, if you haven't seen it in person you may not understand. It's
really beautiful. The depth, character, rustic features, and hand-made appeal are difficult to replicate in a prefinished product. A big reason why hand-scraped wood floors are so appealing is that dents and scratches don't show up as easily when compared to the smoother sanded finish. But this is only the case for site finished floors and not the prefinished variety. Prefinished wood floors tend to show any signs of scratches and dents and surface repairs are nearly impossible. Even a simple touch up stain and light coat of sealer can make a bad scratch virtually disappear.
What types of interior design styles will hand-scraped wood floor accommodate? Just about any traditional American home: French Country, American Colonial, Spanish, or Old World European, Rustic Western, or your middle of the road traditional home. When a homeowner is going for a design which incorporates the look of handmade craftsmanship and warm ruggedness, the authentic hand-scraped finish plays well.
Existing Floors In Your Home?
Maybe you already have solid wood floors in your home and you’d like to refinish them with the hand scraped technique. If you have solid red or white oak with enough wear layer, there’s a good chance your floors might be a good candidate. If you have floor registers for your HVAC, you can remove one and examine the side profile to get a sense for how much “meat” is left on your wood floors. Talk to a local wood flooring professional and ask for their opinion.
If you're looking for a long lasting, durable, and attractive floor for your home that's easy to take care of, consider solid hand scraped wood floors. The look is lightly rustic or moderately rustic and can usually be stained to compliment pre-existing elements in your home. New wood floor installation prices start around $10.00 per square foot and may vary depending on what part of the country you live in and what options you select. Wood species, plank size and polyurethane type are all important factors to consider when looking at a solid, site finished wood floor and will contribute to the overall price of your flooring project.
In many areas of the U.S., hand-scraped wood floors haven't caught on yet. From first-hand experience, our clients RAVE over their floors and with every project we complete, we usually see referral business that follows.
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