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Home / Education / Buying Guide / Unique Hardwood Visuals

Unique Hardwood Visuals

  • In this post, we discuss trends in hardwood flooring as discussed with Dean Kelly, owner of Carpet Baggers in Charleston, SC.

  • Dean explains the process of reactive staining, which is created through fuming or smoking the veneers, achieving a natural patina and a diverse color palette. 

  • Replicating reactive staining creates contrasting color shifts and mimics reactive staining, and can appear time-worn like reclaimed wood.

  • Through multiple layers of stain, the process of dual staining can deepen the color of a wood finish to a desired tone.

Are you drawn in by the intrigue of nature? The mysterious miracle of the colors in a rainbow, or a powder blue sky playing against a horizon of a vivid green forest can take away our cares and instill an appreciation for simple things. Responsibly sourced products for our homes that are created by nature are the most sought after because they are intriguing, unique and comforting.  They are conversation pieces that make us want to examine closely, but impress us with the way they complement other components of the surroundings.

up-scale family room featuring Riviera by Palmetto Road wood floors


Hardwood flooring design has become focused on homeowners’ desires to display the natural beauty of wood in unique, one-of-a-kind, show-stopping style.

And with such a wide variety of hardwood species, there is an abundance of natural beauty out there to fit whatever home style you choose. Hickory hardwood can provide lots of character and color variations, whereas a maple may offer a simple “clean” character with minimal wood-grain pattern. 

In fact, a wood specie’s unique visuals depend greatly on where it grows, mainly due to the climate. A tree from a colder climate produces tighter rings, which can create a hardier, denser wood flooring. Learn more about the variety of hardwood species from this in-depth post.
 
We asked Dean Kelly, owner of Carpet Baggers in Charleston, South Carolina about the newer trends in hardwood flooring.  He has been in the business for over 30 years so he has witnessed the development of offerings from simplistic to diverse.  “Now we have 300 versus 3 options in our showroom.  We are not just in the flooring business any longer.  We are in the style and design business,” said Dean when we asked about the popularity of unique stains and character.  He continued, “High shade variation is gaining traction, along with the texture of wire brushing.  Consumers do not want cookie cutter products in their homes.  They want something unique with a story.”  Twenty & Oak delivers hardwood solutions to empower retailers like Carpet Baggers to be a one-stop shopping source for many unique options.

team photo outside of Carpet Baggers buildingWe also learned from Dean that, due to the Lacey Act, exotics such as Brazillion Cherry and Tigerwood are difficult to source.  Sought after for the process of color development over time and high color variation, it’s good to know there are other products, easily sourced, that replicate this unique feature.

With the increased shortage of exotic species, as well as reclaimable lumber, hardwood manufacturers are turning their attention to creating the sought after visual of high-level natural character in a readily available solution.  Let’s look at a few techniques that deliver a broad range of color and character with sophisticated natural beauty, achieving the look of time-worn, weather-exposed lumber.

Reactive Staining

The movement in color of Reactive Stain hardwood from Palmetto Road Flooring is created through a process of fuming or smoking the veneers.  This process prepares the wood to react with the stains in such a way that a natural patina is achieved, resulting in a diverse color palette across the planks.  Distinct color variations may lighten or darken over the first few months or so after the hardwood reacts to temperature, humidity and environment, yielding centuries of vintage beauty.  Reactive Stain products from Palmetto Road, such as Riviera, in fine French Oak, are shrink-wrapped right after production.  Once it is released from the packaging, the wood continues to breathe and react to the environment.  The color evolvement can take up to a year to fully develop.  Because the tannin level in every piece of wood is different, the result is a one of a kind, natural color pallet design for your space.  No one will ever be able to say, “I have a floor just like that in my home.”  Your floor is truly a unique work of nature’s art! 

Explore our latest launches!  Palmetto Road has just introduced two new, dramatic reactive stain collections for 2019.  Davenport engineered hickory features a combination of antiquing processes and Middleton engineered French Oak embraces knots, cracks and swirling grain patterns for a look alive with visual interest.

Replicating Reactive Staining

The natural process of reactive staining visuals can be accomplished through a more predictable, yet intensively creative stain application.  Dramatic color shifts across planks can mirror the look of the natural reactive process, but with the assurance of “what you see is what you get” when you open the packaging.  The ultra-low gloss finish of Hearthwood’s Controlled Chaos hardwood collection recreates the look of unfinished or reclaimed wood, keeping the visual and feel of a time-worn product of nature in a brand new, modern and durable result.

View Inspiration Gallery


Gallery:  Hearthwood Controlled Chaos Gravity Room Scene, Hearthwood Controlled Chaos Gravity Swatch, Palmetto Road Riviera Geneva Swatch.

High Variation

When you see this term or hear it from your professional retailer, take it seriously and literally!  Often, the producers of hardwood flooring make every effort to communicate this amazing attribute of natural hardwood flooring.  Different wood species take on stain in a manner that is so unique and sometimes unpredictable.  Depth and dimension are created intentionally with layers of stain and the authentic grain of the wood is accentuated.  The Dynamic Earth Collection from Hearthwood achieves a weathered or reclaimed look that is beautifully authentic.  Diverse and design friendly for a broad range of styles, the intentional (and not so intentional) high variation of color across a room is certainly eye-catching, conversation provoking and can actually camouflage natural wear and tear.

Dual Staining

The art of layering stain on wood grain furniture and flooring has been around for a long time.  However, the process of layering multiple colors of stain on hardwood flooring is innovative and grabs the attention of designers.  The two-tone dual staining process includes one color that is applied to the wood, enlivening the grain, and the second tone lies underneath.  The matte finish of Palmetto Road’s Chalmers Collection mimics an oil based look for an elegant and sophisticated design element in any space.  Your retailer will show you the details on the reverse of the full sized display panels that reveal the two colors applied.  Then, you can be your own designer and pull in coordinating elements, such as rugs, pillows and fabrics.  Let the fun begin!

bedroom featuring Palmetto Road Chalmers Tawny hardwood floor

Know Before you Shop

We have talked extensively about variation and we can’t emphasize enough the fact that your hardwood flooring is a natural product with natural character.  If the idea of a very high variation hardwood floor is appealing, be sure to view larger format samples in your retailer’s showroom.  Dean Kelly and his team at Carpet Baggers can answer your questions regarding hardwood flooring and help you select the perfect product for your project.  You might also request to view an even larger representation of planks laid out on the floor.  A qualified installer will take care to place planks stratigically in your space so the variation of color results in a beautiful, breathtaking design.

At Twenty & Oak there is a hardwood option for everyone!  Are you looking for something more traditional that still offers warmth and character?  Explore the many collections from Somerset Flooring.  You’ll see color and designs ranging from traditional to modern, sleek styles in high quality solid and engineered options, made in the USA.  As you explore our many hardwood collections, check our Dealer Locator for a reputable, full service retailer near you to discuss your style and expectations for design in your home.

Twenty & Oak Experts with Carpet Baggers

Dean Kelly of Carpet Baggers Carpet One Floor & Home in Charleston, SC, and his team of professional flooring experts offer exceptional service from start to finish.  Their Shop at Home program brings service to your front door, estimates are always free and their showroom is spacious, beautiful and filled with a huge variety of options for your home.  Read More

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