What Is Handscraped Hardwood and Is It the Right Choice for Your Home?

Updated December 14, 2021
A modern living room with hardwood floor
Photo: Victor zastol'skiy / Adobe Stock

Timeless and authentic, this is one distressed wood trend that’s here to stay

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When it comes to modern style with an old-world flair, you can’t get much better than classic hardwood flooring. Nowadays, though, there’s a new top contender for luxury, style, and beauty. Handscraped hardwood flooring combines sleek elegance with a cozy, warm, lived-in feel. Keep reading, and you’ll understand why it’s become the flooring of choice both for high-end homeowners and super-savers.

What Is Handscraped Hardwood?

Just as the name suggests, handscraped hardwood is a type of hardwood that has been treated, whether by machine or by hand, to create its distinctive, slightly weathered appearance. It shouldn’t be confused with distressed wood, however, which is far rougher, more obviously worn, and aged for a rustic appeal.

Handscraped hardwood gets its name from the once-common technique of using a draw knife to scrape a plank into smoothness. The woodworker would pull a single-blade knife toward themselves to remove shavings and make an even surface with marks typical of wood flooring from days gone by. While handscraping once was done, you guessed it, by hand, it's now mostly done by machine.

Most handscraped wood floors are finished with urethane, a thick, clear substance that provides a durable coating that is easy to clean and requires minimal maintenance.

Is Handscraped Hardwood Worth the Price?

When selecting the perfect hardwood flooring, handscraped hardwood should be top-of-mind. One of the biggest disadvantages of hardwood flooring is that it can easily show wear and tear, collecting dings and scratches like some people collect stamps. But with handscraped hardwood, those added age marks only lend to the distinctive homespun look of the flooring. 

But beware; you won’t get a perfect, gleaming finish with handscraped hardwood. If you’re looking for a sleek, ultra-modern, unblemished aesthetic, then this style won’t be for you. If it’s character that you want, then this style will certainly sing to you.

Machines cannot produce authentic, solid handscraped hardwood through a mass manufacturing process—and its price reflects the uniqueness (more on this below). Engineered, composite handscraped hardwood is available at a slightly lower cost, but it’s manufactured by machines, meaning that the dings and dents are pre-fabricated and will be identical to the other boards manufactured in that lot.

Solid or Engineered Handscraped Wood: A Cost Breakdown

A pile of handscraped hardwood waiting to be installed
Photo: manuta / Adobe Stock

You can get handscraped hardwood flooring in both solid and engineered wood varieties. Engineered handscraped hardwood resembles plywood made from several strips of wood pressed or glued together to form single planks. Wider planks are possible with engineered wood, but they are less durable.

No matter the variety, handscraped hardwood is a labor-intensive install that is best left to the pros. In general, you can expect to pay $10-20 per square foot for professional installation. By comparison, standard (non-handscraped) hardwood floors cost an average of $8 per square foot.

Tips for Working With a Professional Flooring Contractor

If you’re considering handscraped hardwood, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind when choosing a flooring contractor. Qualify your pros during the interview stage, as the pattern in which the strips are placed makes a huge difference in the final appearance. A contractor should be comfortable taking an artistic approach to handscraped installs. At the very least, it’s important to plan your pattern and layout before beginning the installation carefully. Take the time to play with the configuration of your planks with your flooring expert to ensure you achieve your desired look.

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