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What Makes a Hardwood Floor Look Antique?

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If you’re looking to remodel your existing hardwood floor of buy a new one that looks antique, there are some things you should be aware of. When you walk into a colonial or antebellum home, the floor will have a certain look that can sometimes be difficult to identify. What makes the floor look the way it does and how can you replicate the look?

Plank Width

The first thing you should consider is the width of the planks that you are choosing. Modern hardwood floors are made of planks that are typically between three and six inches wide. That’s the modern look. However, the classic look is much wider planks. If you’re looking to recreate a classic floor, you should choose wide hardwood flooring planks. Wide planks are typically about twelve inches wide. They can cup or warp when the humidity changes. Many older floors avoided this because they were top nailed.

Top Nailing

In the modern era, hardwood floors are nailed inside of the groove or the tongue of each plank. The nail is driven in at a forty-five degree angle into the subfloor. Colonial and antebellum floors were top nailed, through; that means they just had nails going through the top of the wood. You can typically identify these by rounded brass or iron nail heads sticking out of the wood. To replicate an antique look, you can legitimately top nail the wood. You could also replicate the look with nails that serve no actual function other than aesthetics.

Hand Scraping

Sandpaper was not invented until the 1930s. Before sandpaper, there were many different ways to smooth the surface of wood. One way to do that was with a draw knife. You could scrape the wood smooth. This left very thin impressions all over the wood. They’re almost imperceptible until the light hits them. A hand scraped floor is a subtle way to make a floor look antique.

Varied Width

In addition to wide planks, you could also choose varied width planks. A varied width floor is made of planks of many different widths. The varied widths are antique because quality wood used to be more difficult to come by. That meant crafters would use as much of the tree as possible. That would result in planks of many different widths. The difference doesn’t even have to be very stark to create the antique look of colonial and antebellum floors.

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