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Hand-Scraped vs Smooth Hardwood Floors: Key Differences

Hand-Scraped vs Smooth Hardwood Floors: Key Differences

When deciding on what kind of hardwood floors to buy, it’s important to know the key differences between hand-scraped vs smooth hardwood floors. Namely, the most obvious difference is in their appearance.

Smooth hardwood floors are, as the name implies, smooth. Whereas hand-scraped hardwood floors look more rustic, with groves purposely added, to look as though the floor has an interesting history of wear.

In addition to their appearance, some other differences to know about include maintenance, durability, resale value, ability to refinish, cost, and color options. In this article we will explore all of the differences in detail to inform your decision.

Smooth Hardwood Floors

As you might expect as the name implies, smooth hardwood floors have a smooth surface. The surface is very refined presenting a very lustrous, and pleasing appearance.

The flooring is usually made from smooth woods such as maple birch, or oak as well as other woods that rate well on the Janka hardness scale.

There are four grades of lumbered wood to choose from that include:

  1. prime
  2. select
  3. natural
  4. rustic

Smooth hardwood floors are made from either solid wood or engineered wood in various color shades.

Smooth hardwood floors are also made from the highest grade of wood, the prime grade of wood that offers a uniform look and very few, if any, knots. This grade of wood also offers fewer color variations and low sap content.

Hand-Scraped Hardwood Floors

On the other hand, when compared to smooth wood, hand-scraped wood floors often come from tougher woods like bamboo that can be used for the hand-scraped variety.

Ironically, hand scraping hardwood floors was originally intended to make it even and smoother. Over time, the purpose of hand-scraping a floor has changed. Hand scraping is now used to purposely make the wood look irregular and uneven.

Nowadays, a hand-scraped hardwood starts as a smooth wood and is then hand-scraped to give it a rustic look. Much like distressing a pair of jeans, hand-scraped hardwood floors create a specific look.

However, hand scraping usually stops short of distressing the floor. The purpose is not to destroy or ruin the floor but to give it a lived-in look that won’t show scratches or dents like a smooth floor would.

This rustic look makes it appear to be aged and to look a bit worn out.

Many like the look since it makes the floor seem as if it has a lived-in past that creates an intriguing charming heritage of history as if it has lived and survived with a story to tell.

Some of the key differences between hand-scraped vs smooth hardwood floors include appearance, color options, lifespan, cost considerations, resale value, durability, refinishing options, and maintenance.

Appearance

A smooth hardwood floor appears beautiful, and smooth presenting itself with a shiny look. On the other hand, hand-scraped hardwood floors are made to intentionally look a little bit worn and aged.

Homeowners who choose hand-scraped hardwood floors often do so because of the floor’s natural ability to hide scratches as well as the vintage look that seems as if it begs to tell its story and share its heritage with anyone who walks across the floor.

These hand-scraped floors almost look as though they came straight from the woods and contain secrets from the forest.

Smooth floors, on the other hand, tend to offer a much sought-after look that remains one of the most popular flooring options for home buyers. It fits any home décor and presents a more luxurious look.

Color Options

Once you choose a hand-scraped floor and sealant, you will not be able to change the color of the floor. On the other hand, a smooth wood floor allows you to sand down and refinish it with a variety of wood stains many times over.

The type of wood that is used for the smooth floor vs. the hand-scraped variety, will make a difference in what raw wood color options are available.

Lifespan

The lifespan of a smooth wood floor can last as long as 50 to 70 years. Some may even go on for 100 years or more.

A hand-scraped wood floor, however, cannot be refinished. If you do sand it down to refinish it, it will lose the hand-scraped look and become nothing more than a smooth hardwood floor.

Cost

Hand-scraped hardwood floors cost about 20% more than their smooth hardwood counterparts. The cost is because of the manufacturing process.

Hand-scraped hardwood floors tend to be a lot more expensive than smooth hardwood. Because of the cost of creating a rustic, hand-scraped look, manufacturers now use a machine to distress the planks.

While this makes the manufacturing process go more smoothly, it creates “hand-scraped” planks that show repetitive patterns that take away from the desired, natural rustic look.

If you have a smooth floor and want to turn it into a hand-scraped version, it is possible. However, this will cost for labor in doing so.

Resale Value

Hand-scraped hardwood flooring tends to offer a higher resale value than smooth hardwood does.

However, don’t be confused with what resale value means. Just because it has a high resale value doesn’t mean the house will be easier to sell if it has hand-scraped hardwood floors.

Most homebuyers prefer the smooth hardwood flooring variety.

It’s going to take the right buyer to want hand-scraped hardwood floors and be willing to pay the price since these floors have a very unique, casual, and lived-in look that does not fit everyone’s home décor.

Durability

Hand-scraped hardwood floors tend to have higher durability than smooth hardwood flooring. Because the hand-scraped wood is already aged, when new scratches happen, it blends in better than it would on a smooth floor.

Their durability makes hand-scraped wood floors great for homes with children or pets, both of whom tend to be very hard on floors.

Refinishing

If you are looking to refinish the floor, smooth hardwood floors will be able to be refinished. However, hand-scraped hardwood floors will be very difficult to refinish. Sanding is not recommended for hand-scraped floors since it removes the floor’s irregularities that give it the unique look.

Hand-scraped floors also come with an anti-scratch finish that lasts a long time and stands up to a lot of wear and tear eliminating the need to refinish them.

Maintenance

While hand-scraped floors will not show scratches and dents like smooth wood floors will, smooth floors are easier to sweep clean.

Hand-scraped floors require some basic cleaning, but nothing extensive. However, the grooves in the hand-scraped wood will tend to hide dirt, debris, dust, and pet hair making it more difficult to clean.

Final Thoughts

Compare the key differences between hand-scraped vs smooth hardwood floors before deciding on which one is best for you and your specific home décor needs. One is easier to maintain and keep clean, while the other hides day-to-day wear better.

One looks more rustic, while the other looks more luxurious.

The choice is up to you, but know that when you go to sell your home, it may be difficult to find the right buyer who wants the hand-scraped look even though, if you do, the hand-scraped hardwood floors will up your resale value.