This project evolved around the notion of a "worry-free floor." The idea was to create a hardwood floor that could withstand the abuse of everyday family life while minimizing the visual effect of that abuse. Also, the floor needed to be able to handle the effects of open windows a large portion of the year in Ohio. The "worry-free" effect was achieved through a combination of 3/4" engineered hickory, hand scraping, and a linseed oil wax finish.
Plant based and volatile organic compound (VOC) free, this finish combination is driven into the wood using a buffing machine. The high RPMs in conjunction with the weight of the machine simultaneously heat up and drive the finish into the wood fibers. The result is a finished product with depth that brings out the natural color of the wood along with the grain. In addition to the organic look and natural sheen, normal wear-and-tear do not produce the unsightly white scratch marks commonly associated with a factory finished floor. Any areas identified as needing repair can be locally touched up with a few drops of oil.
The hickory is an engineered product meaning that it is not solid hickory. Each board is 3/4" thick with the wear layer (top) being hickory. The wear layer on the hickory for this project is the thickest on the market. The core is comprised of 11 layer baltic birch cross-grained plywood, which is also the best on the market. The benefit of engineered hardwood flooring is that it is very dimensionally stable. It resists the urge to expand and contract due to humidity swings much more than solid hardwood (especially in wider widths). This engineered hickory is also Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified ensuring that is came from responsibly managed forests.
First, the edges of the hickory boards were eased by hand using a sanding block. Each board was then softened with a damp sponge and hand scraped using a two stripe pattern. The boards were then hand sanded. All of that was done prior to installation. After installation the entire floor was hand sanded once again. The hand scraping adds character and texture to the floor while also serving as camouflage for future wear-and-tear.
Prior to the advent of drum sanders for flooring use, hardwood floors were scraped flat using a hand scraper. It's very challenging work, however, the look and feel of the finished floor is truly authentic. Walking on the floor barefoot will make you realize that this is the floor you were meant to walk on. You can feel the connection to the wood and the craftsmanship.
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