Beautiful Wood Floors that Withstand Heavy Mountain Use

One question I am frequently asked is, "What kind of wood floors are best for cabins and mountain lodges?"  Over the years, I have formed a strong opinion on this and I find that I make the same recommendation over and over.

Pre-wrecked--I am a big believer in using flooring that is antiqued.  This can be actually antique wood or floors that are given an antique look at the factory.  The more aged patina floors have, the more they will hide future scratches and mars.  The reclaimed wood floor below was just installed into one of my projects last year.  As you can see, it has just been barely sanded enough to make it smooth enough to walk on with bare feet. This has preserved it's beautiful antique color and texture.  There are plenty of gouges as well as high and low points.  If this floor becomes scratched or worn in the future, it will be easy to hit it with a little marking pen or stain and then oil over the top.  It should appear exactly the same for many years into the future.

Reclaimed Wood Floors and Custom Area Rug by Dragonfly Designs

Reclaimed Wood Floor Detail

Lot's of Movement--I like to see lot's of color variations in the floors I install into my projects. Planks of varying colors, checking and cracking, knots and age marks or stains all make it hard for the eye to land in one place.  This movement helps camoflage any wear and tear the floor may experience over the years.  The floor below was installed into one of my projects over ten years ago and it still looks gorgeous today.  The floors are antique white pine.

Antique White Pine Floors and Custom Needlepoint Carpet from Stark featuring Tahoe Native Plants and Animals
Detail of Custom Area Rug

Varied Plank Sizes--Next on my wood flooring wish list is varied planks.  I like to use a mixture of at least two sizes, usually 8" and 10", but the more variation the better.  Wide planks are my favorite, especially when the floors are beautiful.  The floor below is made from antique hickory.  It has been finely sanded but there is still quite a bit of variation, and of course, hickory wood has knots.  The client and I had a bit of fun with this floor and added the bow-shaped joiners.  This floor has been in use (with dogs) for over four years and still looks perfect.

Antique Hickory Wood 
Bow Joining Detail

Mid to Darker Stains--Lightly-colored stains are harder to keep up, especially in the mountains where grit from summer hikers tends to come in the doors and winter shoes are often muddy. I tend to prefer floors that are no lighter than the ones shown above.  If the house looks good with darker stain colors, the floors will be much easier to keep beautiful over time.

Always Oiled Not Verathaned.--I always recommended an oil finish such as Tung oil.  The problem with Urethane or Verathane is that eventually the finish will wear through and then the floors will have to be sanded and varnished again.  With antique floors, the more you sand, the more you remove the character.  On the other hand, oil is something that can simply be added to over time.  When the floors start to show a little wear, you just reapply the oil.  Since the oil has a stain added, the dark glowing brilliance and color of the floors is brought back to life.  If there are scratches or gouges, you can easily touch them up with a little colored marking pen or stain before reapplying the oil.  There are special furniture retouching marking pens available for purchase or you can use art markers.

Maintenance for Oiled Floors--Oiled floors do need a little regular re-application with oil to look their best.  Depending on how much wear the floors receive, once a year or so, you will need to reapply the oil.  A few years ago I dropped by the house of my client whose floors are shown  in the first photos above, to find the husband brooming Tung oil around the house.  He had not even bothered to move furniture or roll up the area rugs, but was simply applying the oil to travel pathways and exposed areas of the floor.  These clients have dogs and entertain large crowds frequently and their floors look exactly as they did the first day they were installed, now a dozen years later.

Concerns About Hydronics--Of course, in the mountains, folks like to have hydronic heat.  Many of my clients have successfully installed solid wood planks over hydronic heating but I do still run into contractors that are fearful about doing so.  "Antique-look" laminated wood floors are available that will solve that problem.  These use new wood which has been distressed and aged to look antique.  Some even have a hand-adzed look (a wavy textured one often finds in very old antique floors).  These are also available in varied plank sizes and you can find also find them oiled.  The oiled laminate floors below were installed about two years ago into another client's newly built Arts and Craft style house.

Oiled Floors in Laminate Application

Wood flooring is a big expense and you want to make sure you buy beautiful floors that have durability and performance in mind.  Using my "pre-wrecked", oiled, high variation flooring tips will ensure that your floors survive years of heavy mountain abuse, dogs, kids and grit.

1 comment:

  1. Wood flooring, laminate flooring, and maple flooring. These flooring systems are very much in demand nowadays. Due to its beneficial features and specifications, it gaining popularity, so before choosing any kind of flooring system for our home, we should first sure about the features and budget. Here from this article also we can get some taste of wooden flooring. Thanks for such a wonderful article.
    Haro flooring


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