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Artificially distress floorboards

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  1. #1
    Apprentice (new member)
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    Default Artificially distress floorboards

    I have a 60 year old house originally built by the Department of Housing or 60 year old equivalent. It's small but solid and we decided to retain it and renovate. In hindsight, not a great decision because it's cost far more than we anticipated. One of the things we did was pull up the carpet and sand/polish floorboards.

    The boards had slight termite damage (they have been treated annually since this was detected by the previous owners) so they were repaired by a chippie - poorly - then finished off myself. I did a better job on the boards he missed, for example, when removing a single board, he would cut into the adjacent boards with a circular saw. I cut through partially, then chiselled down to the required level, saving an unsightly cut in the adjacent boards.

    We then had a tradesman come in and sand and finish the boards in a water-based finish. Much lighter than poly, shows up the grain, but also shows up the filler used in the gaps and the flaws. We also found we missed some of the termite damage in the hallway so we'll have to go through some of this rigmarole again. Even still, there are gaps between some of the boards, a permanent stain in the kitchen, and various other imperfections that detract from the look. Not in a rustic way, either. More inconsistent than anything. The other issue is that we have a big inside dog that is scratching up the floor quite efficiently.

    Instead of trying to fix the floors up like new, I've thought of trying to artificially distress the boards. I've seen an excellent finish in an engineered board that I'd like to try and emulate but not sure how this could be achieved. It looks like it's been run through a machine that has mottled the top, then it's been stained to highlight the flaws. It's quite rough but looks easy to clean and very easy to maintain because any scratches would just blend in. Perfect!

    Any ideas on how this could be achieved and if anybody has done this before? Pictures would also be welcome.

  2. #2
    1K Club Member Master Splinter's Avatar
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    Distressed timber finishes are done (when done by hand) with lengths of chain, saw blades, lumps of concrete and anything else heavy and textured that can be dropped on the timber with sufficient force to dent it.

    Paint, stain, wax or even permanent markers can be used to create the dark tones in the distressed area (will depend on what your floor is finished with...if it's poly, you may need to start again).

    If its already got issues with its appearance. and you've never done timber distressing before, it may work out easier to cover some areas with vinyl flooring (lets face it, the dog is not going to stop scratching up the floor) and go back to carpet!!
    DIY electrical wiring to AS/NZS3000 - details here - http://goo.gl/9d33T (PDF file)

  3. #3
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    Get in touch with the Australian Timber Flooring Association (ATFA). Sorry I don't have a contact for them but their most recent trade journal had an article on classes for tradesmen being run on distressed flooring finishes. They should be able to recommend someone that attended, or at least give some advice/tips.

  4. #4
    Apprentice (new member)
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimDavis View Post
    Get in touch with the Australian Timber Flooring Association (ATFA). Sorry I don't have a contact for them but their most recent trade journal had an article on classes for tradesmen being run on distressed flooring finishes. They should be able to recommend someone that attended, or at least give some advice/tips.
    Oooh - thanks Tim. Hopefully somebody from Perth signed up to a class.

    Master Splinter, I have read about that type of treatment being used to distress a floor. I was thinking about trying it out in the hallway (I'd have to sand off the finish first) considering so much of it needs to be replaced. If not done by hand, what kind of machinery is used? I can see myself trying to be too deliberately random or fastidiously assymetrical and make it end up looking stupid. Vinyl is not an option. I'd rather have average-looking timber floors than vinyl.... *gag*.


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