Which finish for your wood flooring?
Whether you’re looking for wood flooring that is oiled, varnished, smoked, or aged… discover the wide variety of flooring finishes to customise your interior space.
Aged, brushed, and smoked flooring… What are the different styles of floor finishes?
Today, there is a wide range of increasingly elaborate processes that provide for various decorative effects: wooden flooring can be aged, stained, saw-cut, hammered, sanded, etc. These processes significantly change the original appearance of wood, allowing for a custom look. In most cases, this type of flooring is ready to install as soon as it’s delivered. Some finishes may require a light protective treatment before use.
Brushed wood flooring:
Wire brush is used to create this type of finish. The wood is brushed along the grain to remove its soft parts. The “brushed” finish makes the surface slightly irregular to the touch, so the wood’s texture is highlighted. This finish works best in rooms where there is heavy traffic, because scratches and scrapes are less noticeable due to the floor’s irregularity.
Stained wood flooring:
Staining a parquet floor lets you change the original colour of the wood, without getting rid of its roughness or grain. Stained parquet is made by applying a pigmented solution that you mix. Premixed solutions are also available. With wood stain, tinted oil, or tinted varnish… the possibilities are endless depending on your desired effect. Since these finishes are often factory-made by the wooden floor manufacturer, the flooring is sometimes ready to install as soon as you buy it. You can also apply the stain yourself on unfinished flooring.
Whitewashed wood flooring:
This technique only has an interesting effect on porous wood types, like oak. It is done by covering the wood surface with a smooth pigmented paste (usually white) to fill in the wood’s open pores. The desired effect is a contrast between the colour of the applied paste and the wood’s natural colour. This contrast can be enhanced by “brushing” the parquet.
Smoked wood flooring:
This finish is an alternative to older wood with colours that have been weathered over time. Traditionally, wooden floors were mechanically smoked with steam or a heat treatment. These procedures can be expensive and difficult to do. Today, wood flooring is more often smoked by oxidation. This is a process that is applied to tannic woods like oak. The principle is very simple: it is done by applying oxidation formulas that speed up the aging process of wood’s natural colours. Each oak parquet slat, depending on whether it contains knots or sapwoods, will react differently. You can achieve many different colour shades, based on how long the wood was exposed to oxidation and the concentration of the products applied to the wood. The weathering effects become more pronounced and improve with time, revealing the wood’s core. In addition to the aesthetic effect, another advantage of this finish is the colour’s sustainability. As opposed to surface stained floors, parquets smoked by oxidation are stained several millimetres deep, depending on whether it was smoked once, twice, or even three times. With wear, scratches will not show the original colour of the wood. Instead, they often appear a lighter colour. For an even stronger effect, you can even apply stain on top of smoked wood flooring.
Carbonised wood flooring:
With this finish, the wood’s surface is exposed to a torch: the wood is carbonised on the surface but remains natural deeper down. This process allows a unique result that you cannot get with a stain treatment. As opposed to aging by oxidation, this wood comes out light and will weather over time.
Heat treated wood flooring:
In this technique, the wood is literally baked in an oven! It’s the same process as in the kitchen: slow, steady baking at a high temperature kills the wood without burning it. Its fibres and texture are permanently changed. Since the wood is dead, you don’t need to worry about water or weather damage. So it can be installed in a humid environment or even outside. The colour of the wood also changes deep down, and the wood becomes naturally tinted all the way through. This process is often used with woods such as oak.
Saw-cut wood flooring:
This is a mechanical technique that produces a sawn look on the surface of the floorboards causing their texture and aspect to be changed. The “saw cuts” are performed manually or mechanically, either randomly or in a more patterned style, with different levels of intensity that may be more or less pronounced. Some parquet floors are sawed in two different directions: horizontally and vertically.
Relief wood flooring:
This parquet finish is a whole new technique designed to give even more texture to the flooring. This uncommon procedure is achieved by distorting the parquet planks to exaggerate the natural wood textures: the grain, knots, cracks, and slits… the resulting effect is spectacular and very natural-looking as opposed to sculpted finishes: it offers an incredible feeling for your feet.
Sanded wood flooring:
This treatment consists of projecting sand onto the parquet at a very high pressure. This technique is especially used with oak, and it changes the surface making it a little rough, just like a coarse, irregular sanding. As with brushed parquet, the softer parts of the wood are removed.
Aged wood flooring:
How to make something old out of something new? The principle of aging gives a unique character to this parquet finish. It’s very trendy, and it allows for a vintage effect, by using one or several techniques at the same time. Aging is obtained by mechanical or manual techniques that change the look, colour, and texture of the parquet planks. Among the techniques used, the most common is hammering the chamfers, known as “broken edges,” giving an unequal and irregular effect. Often combined with a smoked finish (the oxidation of the wood’s colours), there are many other techniques giving very sophisticated effects, such as worm holes, open slits or cracks, splits, scratches and even lateral saw marks. Some parquets are even aged in machines, similar to the way blue jeans are aged, for example: parquet planks are put into huge machines that have drums filled with many different sizes of stones. By turning the drum, the parquet gets beaten in a totally random way and comes out worn… but still new! Aged parquet is also sometimes stained or even whitewashed to enhance the vintage effect. Such aged parquet can take on several different finishes, like uncoloured oil, whitewash, or shiny oil.