Solid wood flooring is usually the most desirable option, even if it’s also the most expensive. Part of the charm comes from its antique, traditional aesthetic, but many people wish to take that appearance further by making it look older than it is, a process known as ‘distressing’. This provides a rustic, aged appearance which many find attractive, and it’s also perfect for those with young children or pets, since the floor often ends up taking a beating in any case!
Of course, if possible, you should definitely consider buying pre-distressed wood and then having it installed instead of purchasing pristine wood and then distressing it yourself. However, there’s no need to worry if you already have the wood laid down.
For starters, scrape the wood with a floor-scraping tool. You might want to start with a small area first to get a feel for it. Walnut, pine, hickory, and oak all take to distressing well, but hardwoods, such as maple and teak, are usually a little trickier.
Scrape with the direction of the grain instead of going against it – this will create jarring scratches which don’t appear authentic. You’ll also need to avoid knots in the wood. It should be possible to adjust the angle and pressure which you’re using to achieve the look you’re after. Everyone wants their distressed wood flooring to look a little different, so there’s no right answer here.
Other options include using a wire brush, which gives a grainy, aged feel to the flooring. Chains, drills, and hammers can also be used to make chips and scratches, while a soldering iron or other hot pieces of metal can add character with small burns. For a little more fun, anyone with a dog can let their pooches nails go unclipped for a little, then toss a ball around so they slide across the floor. This will help produce a weathered look, and it’s far more fun than scraping.
Just remember to practice your techniques – minus the dog option – on an old piece of furniture before you start on the flooring itself. It’s relatively easy to achieve the distressed look which you’re after, but it is also well worth making sure you know what you’re doing before you begin.