Generally, there are thought to be two ways to change the color of wood for flooring. The wood can be stained or it can be painted. Staining wood involves a pigmented liquid penetrating into the pores of the wood and staining it that color. Paint obviously just sits on top of the wood. If you’re looking for hardwood flooring, you’ll likely find stained wood and painted wood, but not much else. There is a third way to change the color of wood. The coloring is actually changed naturally and looks great with a rustic design scheme. The third way is fumed wood flooring.
What is Fuming?
Ammonia reacts with wood to create changes in the wood both subtle and overt. Fuming wood involves putting the wooden planks into a sealed chamber. They’re then blasted with ammonia vapor. The wood reacts with the ammonia. Typically, the color gets darker and richer. The grain tends to pop as well. What’s interesting is that no two pieces of fumed wood react the exact same. The reaction is determined by the amount of vapor, the moisture content of the wood, the outside humidity, a dozen other factors that you can’t control. So, there’s a level of randomness and variation to all fumed wood floors. Even in the same piece of wood, you might not get a uniform color throughout. That’s why it’s so popular with rustic design schemes.
A fumed wood floor can easily mimic the patina of age. You should be sure that you don’t confuse fumed wood floors for those that have been treated with liquid ammonia. Liquid ammonia damages the fibers of the wood and can compromise its structural integrity.
Fuming th wood uses very small amounts of ammonia that are introduced into the environment around the wood. That small amount of ammonia is enough to change its color and enhance the contrast, but not enough to affect the structural integrity of the wood. A fumed wood floor should be just as structurally sound as any other wood floor.
Types of Wood
The tannins and other minerals in wood will determine somewhat how they react to ammonia. So, two different kinds of wood will not react the same. Even two batches of the same wood won’t react the same because the mineral deposits in the wood will be different. A white oak might trend towards grays, whereas alder that started the same color might trend towards deeper browns. It’s important to look at a wide range of samples before you buy fumed wood. Also, you should stay flexible with your design scheme.