Once you have chosen the type of wood for your new floor and have selected a stain color there are some options for finishing the floor that you might want to consider. Because consumers often are confused by several of the popular hardwood floor finishing options, it may be helpful to understand the basics of three of the most trendy floor finishing options — handscraped, distressed and wirebushed.

Once you determine which wood floor finish you like, selecting a species and stain color might be easier.


Handscraped floors get their name from a once-common technique where a woodworker would pull a draw knife, a single blade with a handle at each end, toward his or her body to remove shavings and make a wood plank smooth.1 While doing so, scrape marks would be left in the wood. That produced the hallmark of a handscraped floor which is that each individual plank looks different, unique and rare.

There are long, ingrained scrapes in the finish and high variation between planks.2 Floors with high variation, like those produced by handscraping, are currently on trend. Handscraped floors have a rough texture that speaks of age and wear, and while they work well in rustic, country inspired homes, they are also becoming popular as a background to contemporary homes.

Dents and scratches usually blend into a handscraped floor, providing more character. Because of these dents and scratches, handscraped floors can be slightly more difficult to clean. It also takes time to handscrape a floor, so there is an upcharge in terms of cost.

Some manufacturers offer machine-scraped flooring that mimics handscraped flooring. Be wary of these claims, as machine-scraped flooring has a tendency to have a uniform look, which is the opposite of what you desire in a handscraped floor.3 When a hand-scraped floor needs to be sanded down and refinished the handscrape process must be done again to achieve the original handscraped effect.

You can avoid having your handscraped floor returned to its smooth finish by doing a process called screening and then re-coating the floor. Screening and re-coating refurbished the old finish without actually removing it.4


Many people get hansdcraped and distressed wood flooring confused. While handscraped flooring does have an aged look, distressed wood floors are purposely made to look like they have been through a lot of wear and tear. Scrapes, burns, knots, wormholes and more, give distressed flooring an aged, antique or reclaimed look.5 Using various distressing techniques, a skilled hardwood flooring professional can craft a unique floor with enhanced texture and artistry.


Wirebrushed wood flooring has subtle, intentional wire scratches that leave the heart of the wood exposed to the surface.6 The difference between wirebrushed and handscraped or distressed wood is that the imperfections in wirebrushed wood are smoother and more consistent. The main advantage of wirebrushing is that your floors appear to have a more finished look than is achieved through either handscraping or distressing the wood. A big plus is that wirebrushed floors hide dirt so they look cleaner.

While all three techniques are still popular, wirebrushing is starting to take a back-seat in popularity to handscraping and distressing. Regardless of the finishing technique that is used, all will give a unique and timeless look to your home and generally will increase your home’s resale value.

Cameron the Sandman has been beautifying homes and businesses with hardwood flooring services for over 80 years. As hardwood flooring professionals, we manage each project from start to finish and help you choose the best hardwood floor species, hardwood stain, and design layout to meet your needs and desires. Whether you are seeking hardwood floor installation, refinishing or hardwood restoration, we can help. Call our flooring specialists today for a consultation!