Distressed Hickory Flooring
Installing hickory flooring is a notorious challenge. The hardwood's known density – it is one of the hardest domestic species – and rough, closed grain pose difficulties in sanding, machining, and finishing. As a result, the installer ends up having to circumvent traditional methods; otherwise, the surface of the floor may end up with an uneven patina of splotches. In more recent years, however, distressed hickory flooring has emerged as another choice in this regards.
What makes hickory so unlike other domestic species? Its appearance is characterized by contrasting heartwood and sapwood – a juxtaposition of reddish brown with white or cream. While the contrasting appearance certainly makes hickory flooring desirable for many spaces, the hardwood poses issues with sanding, and professionals and do-it-yourselfers are recommended to use a belt sander.
Even after the wood is sanded, a stain must be added, and two approaches can be taken. Applying wood conditioner fully seals off imperfect grain to prevent a blotchy finish. Or, water-popping can be employed: The wood is wiped down with a damp rag to open the grain, and as soon as it dries, the stain is applied.
The rough texture and character marks of distressed flooring, on the other hand, effectively camouflage uneven finish. Giving the room a rustic character, distressed hickory flooring is distinguished by a textured surface – a quality that gives floors a tactile dimension. Nevertheless, for hickory and other hand-scraped options, not all distressing techniques are identical. Rather, most flooring is distressed through a mix of aging, contouring, and staining.
Various techniques create texture on wood. For distressed hickory flooring, the hardwood may be wire brushed, a term used to indicate the grain is highlighted and the sapwood removed. Or, the wood may be hand-sculpted, which indicates a smoother but still textured feel. Hand hewn and rough sawn is a name given to the roughest distressed hardwoods, as even saw marks are visible on this variety. Aside from texture, aging is another technique, and darker stain – applied as enhancement or used alone – may additionally be part.