Distressed floors offer look of aged wood
Distressed wood flooring, such as this example in maple, adds warmth to a home and can reduce the impact of later wear and tear. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Traci B.)
Oddly enough, a distressed floor can produce a calming effect. That's because a purposefully pitted and pocked floor, if distressed properly, can add warmth and a sense of authenticity to a room. Not only that, it can reduce the impact of previous damage and hide evidence of future everyday wear and tear.
Some people consider wood-distressing to be an art form because the process draws out natural variations in the wood. More commonly, though, most wood is mechanically distressed these days. While some people do it themselves with sandpaper, paint remover and other materials and techniques, the job must be done right for the result to look like art, not damage.
More common for furniture than flooring, antiquing involves applying a layer of varnish or historical paint colors to the wood. In some cases, the contractor will use glaze to blend colors in a wash that looks as if it happened with age.
Another way to distress wood is to add elements that could be considered natural, such as fake wormholes or bleached-out spots. Keep in mind that any hardwood flooring contractor you hire to distress your wood must understand the finesse required to get distressing right.
Distressing the wood can also salvage a damaged floor. If a homeowner covers up damage with evenly distributed distressing, visitors may never know the difference.
Before or after
Some contractors prefer to work the wood before installation, but the job can also be done after a hardwood floor is in place. Either way, it's important the you or your contractor lay down a proper finish to protect the floor.
If you plan to install new wood flooring or refinish an existing floor, consider how Angie's List can help. Members have access to local consumer reviews on flooring experts and service providers in more than 550 other categories.
For more information, see the Angie's List Guide to Hardwood Flooring.