How to Create Distressed Wood Floors


Historic homes often feature worn wood floors distressed by decades, sometimes centuries, of usage. Designers capitalize on this "homey" feel by simulating distressed wood floors. Distressing wood floors is time consuming but the resulting effect will give your home that historic, well-loved charm necessary to replicate time-worn wood. Home improvement stores carry all the supplies necessary to distress your wood floors. Because the floor distressing is accomplished by hand, you control how much distress is applied to the wood flooring.

Things You'll Need

  • Power sander
  • Wet/dry vacuum cleaner
  • Bicycle chain
  • Roofing nail
  • Mallet
  • Rubber gloves
  • Wood stain
  • Rags, soft cotton or muslin
  • Oil-modified urethane
  • Paintbrush
  • Use a power sander, purchased or rented from a home improvement store, to sand the wood floors, removing the old finish.

  • Vacuum the sanded floor with a shop wet/dry vacuum cleaner.

  • Hold a bicycle chain in your hands and hit the wood floor with all your strength with the chain. Repeat randomly all over the floor. Avoid getting hit by the chain. According to New Homes and Ideas, a softer distressing can be accomplished by placing the chain within a pillowcase before hitting the floor.

  • Hold a roofing nail against the floor. Hit the nail head with a mallet just enough to create a nail gouge on the wood floor. Create random groupings of five or six nail gouges around the floor.

  • Pour wood stain onto a soft cotton or muslin rag until wet, but not dripping. Put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your skin from the chemicals in the wood stain. Open the windows to ventilate the room to avoid hazardous inhalation of stain fumes.

  • Begin in a corner and wipe the stain onto the wood floor in a circular motion. Press the stain-saturated rag firmly against the wood while you are rubbing so the wood absorbs the stain. Apply more stain to the rag as needed. Change the rag when it becomes too grimy to work with. The stain will seep into the distressed marks and highlight the distressed accents. Complete staining the floor.

  • Allow stain to dry up to three days depending on the size of the floor and the type of wood flooring. Harder woods dry slower. According to Hardwood Installer, weather will play a factor in the duration required for your stain to completely dry on the wood floor. Repeat with additional coats until the floor achieves the color desired. Allow stain to dry.

  • Paint an oil-modified urethane onto the dried stained floor. According to Wood Floors Online, oil-modified urethane creates a waterproof surface that will dry in approximately eight hours. Wet or humid weather will affect drying times.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always work in a well ventilated area.

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  • Photo Credit Wood pattern and knots image by Lucid_Exposure from
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