When you look across social media and other interior design spaces, distressed wood is everywhere. There are two basic ways to get distressed wood; you can buy genuinely aged wood that has been through years of stress, or you can buy new wood that has been distressed. To distress wood means to make it look as if it has aged in harsh elements. The ravages of time can make planks of wood look great.

Oils and tannins from trees, human hands, and general use can discolor wood; that will give it an antique patina. Wind and rain can strip paint in uneven ways. Changing humidity can bleach the warm browns out of wood and replace them with a cool gray. All of these are great if you’re looking for a rustic look for your home. However, if you don’t have a decade or two to wait for the side of a barn to age, you can buy distressed new wood. That’s wood that’s been made to look old. Here’s how they do it.

Rough Sanding

 The look of distressed wood is more than just the colors and the paint. It also has to do with the texture. Hailstorms, pet claws, tree branches, and several other factors can damage wood over time. To replicate that, manufacturers often use sanders. A fine grit sandpaper is used to get a piece of wood as smooth as possible; however, a coarse grit tends to remove the wood unevenly. Manufacturers will use coarse grain sandpaper to create uneven gouges through the wood. If the wood is painted, the sandpaper will take away stripes of paint in uneven patterns. That will simulate damage. If the wood is stained, the stain will end up at different concentrations to create an aged patina.

Uneven Staining

 To mimic the aged patina, manufacturers will also stain the wood haphazardly. If the stain is not applied evenly, it can create bleeds and splotches that look like places where oils have pooled up. When applied expertly, it looks like aged wood.

Staining Over Paint

 Paint tends to fade over time if it’s exposed to wind, rain, and sun. it can darken over time if it’s been exposed to fingertips and other sources of oil. To mimic either of those conditions, manufacturers will actually stain over teh paint. You can also do this if you’re distressing your own hardwood floor.

The floor will be painted in the desired color. Then, a stain can be applied depending on which look you’re going for. A dark walnut or something natural like that will make paint look darkened. An ash or driftwood stain will make the wood look faded.

These are a few techniques used to distress a hardwood floor.