Rustic and distressed wood floors has been growing in popularity for years now. The trend towards distressed wood and reclaimed wood has been growing consistently. That trend has grown to the point now that some homeowners are hiring professionals to burn-stain their hardwood flooring. Burn-staining is basically what it sounds like; someone uses fire to lightly burn the wood to add color, texture, and depth. Here’s how it works.
When wood is processed in mills, especially in older mills, the wood undergoes several processes that involve heat. The drying of the wood, the spinning of the saw blades, and other processes all have the possibility of burning the wood. It’s less common now but it was very common in the past for floor planks to have burn marks. They’re very common with very old floors. If you look at antique wooden floors, especially cabins and working class homes, you’ll likely see burn marks on the planks.
Accidental fires were more common in the distant past as well. However, since resources were so limited, homeowners wouldn’t completely discard their wooden floors just because they had been damaged. Wood that was salvageable was re-purposed. All of that is why burn-staining evokes antique architecture.
How It Works
To burn-stain your hardwood, a professional will use a blowtorch and water. First, they will sand away any finish on the flooring. They might also sand the top layer of the wood. It’s very important to vacuum every bit of sawdust in the home so that it doesn’t start a fire. Once the finish is removed and the sawdust all vacuumed, it’s time to burn-stain.
Simply put, the professional will use the blowtorch to singe the wood. Typically, they will singe the wood in the direction of the grain, which is more common for a natural fire. They’ll also likely include some burn holes. The water is used to arrest the burn when the desired effect is achieved.
If you want the floor to look like reclaimed salvage, crafters will burn the different planks before they’re installed. That will make it look as if the flooring was burned elsewhere and then installed in your house.
Burn-staining is not for everyone, but it has been growing in popularity. It’s a simple and effective way to create a very unique floor. The trend of distressed and reclaimed wood is not going away; this is just the next step in that evolution.