Smoked, or fumed, hardwood floors have been experiencing something of a moment lately. The process has been around for a while but it has just recently grown in popularity. Many customers are turning to hardwood that has been smoked or fumed when they see the unique beauty of the product. The name might evoke images of smoking brisket in a barbecue smoker or something that actually burns the wood, but that’s not really the case.
What Smoked Hardwood Means
Smoked hardwood is also known as fumed flooring or fumed oak. It’s called fumed oak because oak is the most popular type of wood to receive this particular treatment. The process was actually created in the late 19th century. A leading figure in the 1800s arts and crafts movement discovered that he could change the characteristics of wood by enclosing it in a sealed environment and introducing different substances. He discovered that the characteristic changes depended on which organic substances he used. The materials introduced do not actually stay on the wood. Instead, the different products that are used to smoke the wood will actually draw the wood’s natural tannins to the surface. The tannins give wood its deep, rich color. Pulling them to the surface naturally darkens and enriches the wood.
How It Is Done
Typically, wood is fumed by putting it in an enclosed environment. Ammonia is then introduced to the environment. The ammonia is reactive and draws out the wood’s natural tannins. The manufacturers will adjust the length of time the wood is exposed as well as the temperature of the chamber.
When wood is fumed for about twelve hours, it produces a small effect. The darks will be a little bit richer but the wood itself will retain most of its original characteristics. On the other end of the spectrum, wood can be fumed for as much as 72 hours, which will produce a much darker and deeper effect. Furthermore, manufacturers will control the temperature. The temperature affects the rate of reaction as well as the specific nature of the reaction.
Wood that is fumed at high temperatures will have more reds and other warm tones in the wood after the work is done. Fuming at cooler temperatures introduces more green to the wood. That introduces a layer of creativity and spontaneity to the process that is very intriguing.
Fuming is popular because it creates a very unique look and it is completely natural; no chemical remains on the wood after it’s fumed.