You are embarking yourself on a new project, with the idea of transforming your home into something more stylish, with that timeless elegance, quality and beautiful character that only a wooden floor can achieved. Whether you are considering an engineered or solid wood floor, do you realise wood flooring is available in a variety of different finishes?

This guide explores a number of different finishes and techniques used and should ultimately help you to decide which one is best for you and your home.

Brushing

Brushing usually takes place as part of the manufacturing process, the surface of the planks are roller brushed to remove some of the softer growth rings from the grain. Depending on the level of brushing, this gives a textured surface that gently highlights the natural grain structure.

An additional benefit of purchasing a ‘brushed’ product is that the brushed design makes it near impossible for any scratches to become noticeable given the fact that their surface area is already textured; just the thing for households with young children and/or pets with claws.  

Distressing/Tumbled

Distressing is typically achieved by hand or by tumbling the planks in large tanks, giving a used and random appearance. Another distressing method includes machines that scrape and punch the planks as they go through a conveyor belt system although this method will usually show a repeating pattern of distresses which may look unnatural.

Hand-Scraping

Before modern machinery has taken over, floors were hand scraped on-site to make sure they were flat and smooth. In practice although this method removed the rough grain, it left the floor feel somewhat wavy and uneven. Nowadays the hand-scraping effect is created with special machines.

Lacquer

Lacquer is a clear or coloured varnish that dries by solvent evaporation to produce a hard, durable, protective finish or film in any sheen level from matt to gloss and is primarily used in wood finishing.  A lacquer effectively sits on the top of the timber and does not seep into the material like oil would.  

One of the main advantages of lacquered solid or engineered wood flooring is that spillages, if mopped up as quickly as possible, will not seep into the material.  The one disadvantage of a lacquered wood floor is that it has a tendency to show scuffs and scratches more easily as opposed to an oiled finish, which offers a matt finish. Because of this, when the floor eventually ends up looking tired and worn, the best course of action is to sand down the timber and re-apply a lacquer.  

Natural Oil & Hard Wax-oils

In the domestic market, hard wax-oils and UV oils have become more widespread. They are transparent penetrating substances, usually based on vegetable oils and natural waxes. They penetrates into the core of the wood for long-lasting protection, while preserving the wood's natural beauty and elasticity. 

Oiled wood flooring has a truly natural look and enables the colour of the material to deepen over the years. The best thing about an oiled finish is that the floor looks as if it has no protection whatsoever, increasing the overall natural look and feel.

The final floor will need occasional maintenance and depending on traffic will require replenishing of the oils every year or so.

Satin Finish

When applied to oak boards, a Satin finish will give your floor a warm, honey colour with a slight sheen, which will reflect light. Satin finish is a popular choice for creating a more homely atmosphere.

Matt Finish

Increasing in popularity, matt finishes offer a more natural, understated feel to your oak flooring. Matt is often chosen for more contemporary spaces with the Natural Matt finish providing little or no sheen to your oak boards.

Smoked (Fuming)

Ammonia fuming is a traditional process for darkening and enriching the colour of oak by oxidation. The physical change in appearance is subject to the tannin and other natural content held within the structure of the timber and its interaction with the treatment. It forms an envelope around the surface of the board and depth of penetration will vary subject to the timber structure and exposure, however the outward appearance of the edges could suggest the boards are treated to the core. 

Thermo-Treated (Carbonising)

In thermo-treated, the boards are heated to a high temperature which causes the colour to darken. This method of darkening wood is environmentally friendly as there are no chemicals used during this process, simply heat and steam. The process brings out and accentuates the best grain characteristics of the flooring, and unlike a stain, thermo-treatment changes the colour, creating a deep rich hue running through the entire core of the wood.

Air-Dried Oils, this 8-12-hour process will not only create beautiful results, but will also protect the board for a longer time. This process produces a more organic and natural colour result and helps to maintain the overall health of the wood. The first coating creates the first bond and seal to the timber, then the second coat is applied to sit on top of the first coat for extra protection.