Private Lodge Gets Hand-Scraped Hardwood

Private Lodge:  A Dream Come True

An extended family member (viz., Fran) of the Wolfe family called last month seeking guidance. Fran is fulfilling a longstanding dream---building a wooded retreat on a private lake.  She wants a rustic, hand-scraped hardwood to further the rough cabin feel.  Fran has basically two options:  authentic hand-scraped, rustic hardwood or simulated hand-scraped, rustic hardwood.  In short, authentic rustic hardwood is wood which has actually been worn and weathered by use over time.  Simulated rustic hardwood is wood which has been milled or modified recently to appear worn and weathered.

Fran's Wooded Lodge During Construction

Fran's Wooded Lodge During Construction

Key Features of Hand-scraped Hardwood

Wide Boards.  Vacation resorts, seaside bungalows, fishing cabins, and the like will customarily use wider boards (i.e., boards which are wider than 4 inches).  The wider boards normally cost more per square foot than narrower boards because the mills suffer more production waste when creating wider boards.

Beveled Edges.  The beveling between hand-scraped planks is frequently more noticeable than standard joints.  Sometimes the edges' generous radius is referenced to as scraped edges.  The width of the boards is accentuated by the deeply beveled edges.

Degrees of Distress or Scraping.  The degree of noticeable scraping or distress, will span the gamut from minimal to extreme.  The texture of the boards is manifested by shadows, as light beams across the hardwood's surface.  The extra texture will increase slip resistance.

Distress Added to Hardwood Flooring Using a Screw

Distress Added to Hardwood Flooring Using a Screw

Unique Considerations for Authentic Reclaimed Hardwood

There are a few characteristics to consider before purchasing repurposed hardwood.  Individual boards my be bent, cracked, or splintered during the recovery process or while held in inventory.   There may be nails or staples embedded in the planks.  Verify that the tongue-and-groove edges are acceptable.  Likewise, carefully inspect recovered hardwood for insect damage.  If termite tunnels exist, the tunnels may collapse after the installation when the hardwood is sanded.  Recycled hardwood flooring may have a preexisting stain and/or finish or (in rare cases) paint.  Reclaimed hardwood may need to be sanded and finished after the installation which will increase costs.  Reclaimed hardwood will be solid hardwood (in contrast to engineered hardwood), which will be less dimensionally stable and more susceptible to temperature changes.

On-site Finish of Hardwood

Reclaimed hardwood or hardwood which is scraped and/or distressed after the installation will need to be coated with a finish.  In contrast to an on-site finish, manufacturer's of hardwood will coat and flash-dry three to six coats of finish with suspended particles (i.e., aluminum oxide or diamond dust) in the finish to increase the finish's durability.  Instant drying is not possible with an on-site finish.  As one might suspect, post-installation finishing normally costs more per square foot than prefinished hardwood.

Eyes cannot ignore these scraped beveled edges. But, know that dirt will gather in the joints.

Eyes cannot ignore these scraped beveled edges. But, know that dirt will gather in the joints.

Stain and Color

Whether installing prefinished hardwood or finishing after the installation, stain alters the natural color of hardwood.  The wood's natural color will remain below the stain.  If the floor is gouged or substantially worn, the true color will become apparent.  As a general rule, we recommend that you purchase a hardwood which is your preferred color in its natural form and utilizes a clear finish.

Benefit of Reclaimed or Site-Finished Hardwood

One of the benefits of recycled hardwood or unfinished hardwood is that scrapes can be added with a plane or distress can be added with various instruments.  A rancher may request that a iron horseshoe be impressed into the hardwood.  An oceanside restaurant may request that the hardwood be branded with a hot iron in the shape of an anchor.  Your creativity is the limit.


Standard hardwood floors will cost less than hand-scraped hardwood, whether authentic or artificial.  The artificial rustic which is mass produced by machines will normally cost less than authentic rustic which has been repurposed and finished on site.

Light shining across the surface manifests the scrapes of the hardwood.

Light shining across the surface manifests the scrapes of the hardwood.

Maintenance for Authentic Rustic v. Manufactured Rustic

A major advantage of a true distressed hardwood is that the floors look more fashionable with wear.  A ski lodge or a hunting cottage need not fear the steady march of muddy boots.  In contrast, a scraped hardwood with a polished appearance should be forewarned that hand-scraped hardwood floors cannot be sanded and refinished in the same way as hardwood with an even, smooth surface.  A standard sanding process will make contact with the crests of the scrapes and pass over the troughs of the scrapes.  So, again, the process requires more handcrafted effort.

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