Understanding Wood-Look Flooring Textures

Many flooring types have embraced a wood look to replicate the look of hardwood. Today, you’ll find wood laminate, vinyl tiles and planks, and even sheet vinyl and porcelain tiles that mimic the authentic warmth of real hardwood. These flooring types, many of which are also more durable and scratch-resistant than solid hardwood, are available in a variety of textures.

These wood textures can add an even more authentic hardwood look, and—dare we say—can even add the “feel” of wood under your feet, too. Here’s a look at some of the wood floor textures out there and how they show up in different design styles.


The Smooth Wood Look

Let’s start the conversation with the least-textured example: smooth wood-look floors, which are most commonly seen in wood laminates. A natural hardwood can be sanded to the point where its surface is smooth, but you’ll always see or feel a bit of a grainy texture to it. A smooth texture on a wood-look floor is completely without waves or imperfections. Some laminate floors will have a slight graininess built into them, but they’re still considered a smooth texture.

Smooth textures preserve the wood grain look without the rigidity and subtle roughness of a piece of sanded wood. A smooth texture may feel almost tile-like when walking on it, but not quite as cold.

Smooth textures, especially in laminates, are more likely to have a glossy sheen, although you can also find them in a matte finish. If your smooth floor is glossy, you may consider using it for a room with plenty of natural lighting. A matte finish is a more muted tone and tends to be better for rooms with less overall lighting, giving it more of a relaxing, subdued feel.

Seams can also affect how a smooth texture influences design in a room. For example, floors with more pronounced seams designed into them in a medium to darker tone, such as a hickory or cherry wood, can give more of a polished, elegant look to a room, especially if there’s a glossy sheen.

The Hand-Scraped Wood Look

Some refer to hand-scraped floors as having a “wave” texture. Hand-scraped hardwood flooring actually looks like the floor was skimmed in sections during the wood milling process, giving it a wavy look that’s easy to see if you look at the surface at an angle with a light shining on it. Some hand-scraped textures also have natural scuffs designed into them for more of a vintage look.

Darker colors can add rustic charm—an almost log cabin look and feel—to a space. This texture looks great in front of a fireplace and in sitting areas. Some hand-scraped textured floors even come with varied plank widths for added sophistication. Hand-scraped hickory, white, or red oak wood-look floors look great and can warm up a study or den, offer a homey country touch to a dining room, or bring a welcoming feel to a living room or great room.

You may hear other terms such as “subtle scraped” or “heavy scraped” when talking about hand-scraped floors. These terms are often used to emphasize how much or how little of a scraped look you’re getting. Generally, heavy scraped is closer to a distressed look.

hand scraped wood laminate floor in bathroom

The Distressed Wood Look

This distressed texture is sometimes called “wire brushed” as well. A distressed floor looks as if the surface is aged; it embraces its imperfections and has a well-worn look. If you were to actually “distress” natural wood, you might use chemicals or tools to add imperfections to the surface. With a wire-brushed wood texture, no two pieces look alike.

A wire-brushed oak flooring is one of the most popular floors out there today. A white oak wood-look floor with a distressed texture and matte finish, it offers a subtle elegance and is great for transitional design that might merge vintage, industrial, classic, and contemporary styles.

You can even find the distressed white oak wood-look in porcelain tiles. With the natural wood look and grout lines, it adds sophistication with design flexibility. These floors work great just about anywhere. Install them in a home with a country theme, an urban loft, or anywhere in between.

Distressed looks in general are pretty design versatile. They can make a game room fun and lively while leaving the door open to different themes and wall coverings. They can absolutely set the tone for a great room space that flows to other areas of the home. Distressed floors are a go-to in minimalist design, and they look great in large, uncluttered areas where they can stand out.

Generally speaking, you can’t think small with a distressed texture. This statement-making flooring shouldn’t be contained to a small room. It’s best in large rooms and throughout a home.

Considering a wood-look floor for your home? Let a professional help you find the right floor for you. Schedule a FREE In-Home Estimate to see how easy the whole process can be—and in some cases, you can even have your new floors installed as soon as next day!

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