We like to keep our finger on the pulse of the flooring industry, and we can’t help but notice that bleached hardwood is trending.
But what is it exactly?
When people express interest in bleached hardwood floors, what they really are looking for is hardwood void of color. They want a white, natural look without the dark colors or stains.
Is bleached hardwood flooring for you? Let’s dig a little deeper into this trend.
Bleached, whitewashed, and natural – what’s the difference?
When homeowners visit our retail location, they will describe this look in several ways. However, it’s a good idea to understand the different nuances of lighter wood floors to ensure you get what you’re looking for.
Bleached hardwood completely takes out the color. This will bring the hardwood down to a white color, and strip away the browns. It’s best performed with an already light wood, such as white oak floorboards. If you use it on stronger, more prominent patterned wood such as exotics, it can cause discoloration, which may not produce the look you’re trying to achieve.
Whitewash is created by using a white wood stain. Whitewash or white stain will seep into the wood and change its appearance. White stain will lighten the hardwood, but won’t hide color from hardwood such as red oak or exotics. You may still have brown color tints shining through.
Natural hardwood brings out the beauty of whatever hardwood flooring planks you’re installing. You apply a clear sealer and several coats of natural polyurethane to bring out the natural beauty in the quality of the wood.
Do a quick search online, and you’ll find many sites that instruct you through the process of bleaching out your flooring. Take note: this is more difficult than it seems. And it can damage the hardwood.
Bleach has become a staple in cleaning. But when used to strip down to the surface of hardwood planks, it can do more than clean the surface area.
Chlorine bleach destroys lignin. This is the part of the wood structure that hardens and strengthens the cell walls. It’s what gives hardwood its integrity.
If you use too much bleach and it seeps into the wood, it destroys the integrity of the hardwood plank, making it resistant to whatever you put on the surface area.
Even with bleached flooring, you still need surface coats to protect it from day-to-day living. And without having a bondable surface, you’ll never be able to use it as flooring.
How do you achieve a bleached hardwood flooring look?
The simplest and most effective way to create a bleached hardwood floor is to buy prefinished hardwood already bleached to the color you prefer.
Prefinished is as the name implies – it’s prefinished and ready to install. When you select a prefinished hardwood plank, you can settle on the exact color you’re looking for. Keep in mind that with most prefinished hardwood planks, they’ve achieved the look through whitewashing or color enhancement. But what you see is what you get – and it can allow you to select exactly what you want for your home.
Prefinished is produced and sealed, topped with a polyurethane coat before it’s boxed up and delivered to your home. That means it’s one of the strongest hardwoods you’ll be able to install for your flooring. Plus, if you order an extra box, it’s easy to replace damaged planks if the situation arises. You won’t have to try and achieve the same look with a bottle of bleach and a scrub brush. You’ll have the planks ready for replacement.
What about site bleaching?
For many homeowners, they prefer hardwood to be sealed and finished after installation. This ensures sealant gets between the floorboards, and creates a more water-resistant topcoat that protects against daily living. If that’s the case, site bleaching will be done after your hardwood is installed. This process is best left to the professionals to ensure you achieve great results.
Professionals can perform several different processes to achieve the results you’re looking for. Lime washing can give the appearance of a seaside beach house. Ammonia bleach removes the stains and dyes but will not alter the original hardwood color. It brings out the natural beauty of the wood.
What’s the right choice for you? It depends on what look you’re trying to achieve. Create a pinboard of ideas and options to see what truly motivates you in your final design.
Once your bleached hardwood floors are in place
Integrity is everything. No matter which method you choose for getting the right color hardwood for your home, maintaining the proper finish is what gives you longevity over time.
Hardwood can be one of the most durable flooring choices you’ll install inside your home. But quality matters.
First, ensure you select hardwood that stands the test of time. By choosing a high-grade hardwood, you’ll have the ability to refinish the surface area multiple times, changing the look based on your current desires.
Pay attention to Janka ratings. What matters most to hardwood is the hardness of the species itself. No matter what manufacturing process is used, if you don’t start with quality wood species, you’ll never end up with a durable hardwood plank.
Janka ratings run from zero to around 4,000 pounds. Balsa wood is extremely lightweight, and is often used for crafts. Moving to the other end would be Brazilian walnut, which is often used in decks and furniture. Once crafted, it can take a high degree of wear and tear before it starts to show its mark.
A good ranking often falls in the middle. A popular choice is oak – both the red and white varieties do well under normal living conditions. With a specific species in mind, selecting the one that will perform best for your desired effects will create a flooring choice you’re happy to live with for years.
Once you’ve achieved the color you desire, sealing and protecting it will create a surface area that works best for your lifestyle. This will protect it from stains, spills, and accidents that are a part of daily living.
Are you ready for a change? Are you remodeling your home, with new flooring at the top of your list?
Bleached hardwood flooring may be the perfect choice to set the backdrop for your new furnishings.
What questions can we answer about bleached flooring?