Left: Silvian – Virta, Right: Eighteen Seventy-Five – Putney. Both European white oak

Have you ever wondered why some European white oak floors look brown, instead of a natural honey-like color? Have you ever wondered why some walnut floors don’t have any hints of gray? In other words, have you ever seen a wood floor color that looks different than what you expected, or perhaps not even possible?

If you have ever wondered about these things (we do), then you’ve come to the right blog for answers.

There are two primary methods to alter the color of a wood floor beyond its natural coloring.

The first option uses dye or pigment to lay color on the surface of the wood. The second option alters the color of wood fiber itself.

Neither process is superior to the other. Depending on what look you are after will determine which method is best for your floor.

Faithful – Steadfast Collection

Pigments and dye, oh my!

When putting color on a floor, the process is done with either dye or pigment.

Dyes lay very small particles of coloring onto the surface of the wood. Done well, dyes typically give you a broad depth of color. Dyes also yield a diverse array of colors and provide rich hues you may not be able to obtain with pigment.

Aniline dyes seep into the pores and texture of the wood. These dyes are used in some select furniture, even guitars and other specialty wood products. They are not typically used in wood flooring simply because they can’t block UV light; thus the dyes will fade over time when subjected to direct sunlight. This, of course, is an issue if you want an aniline-dyed floor in a space with windows.

The Ponderosa collection, pigment-colored floors.

At Real Wood Floors when we color with pigment, we are trying to elevate color allowing for a more uniform look to the floor. We recognize tastes differ, so we offer several floors with pigmented coloring, so customers can choose the type of floor they wish.

With pigmenting, we add depth of color—not by trying to push the pigment deeper into the floor, but by adding multiple layers of coloring. We use techniques such as adding a base color, putting a lighter stain on top, then taking it off by hand. This gives a random flow of coloring per board. To add complexity, we may send the boards through a second machine, and again hand-wipe the stain or use a machine to do so.

Many other flooring companies also use pigments to color their floors, but we are unique because our applications provide astounding variations of color while keeping that variation nicely uniform. Some of these looks are only possible through pigmented coloring.

Altering the Wood Fiber: Carbonizing and Revelarre

The other primary method for changing the color of wood flooring is through altering the color of the wood fiber itself. This is achieved through two different procedures, carbonizing or Revelarre.

With carbonizing, wood veneers are heated within a vacuum chamber. The chamber keeps the wood from catching fire and transforms the color from its natural wood to various browns and even to black.

With carbonizing, it’s possible to heat the wood too much, which changes the natural flexibility of its fiber to a brittle state. We feel it damages the wood fibers and makes them too brittle to meet customer expectations for a wood floor, so we actively remove any of these pieces that are unusable. We also offer light carbonizing on some floors which prevents any extreme effects on the wood.

Vintage Loft – Harborside, a Revelarre floor.

Given the potential for a compromised floor, we rely mainly on Revelarre.

Revelarre is the coloring process that allows us to look at each species of wood and the components that naturally exist within those species. We apply an offsetting molecule that has a natural reaction with the molecules existing within the wood to alter its coloring.

This provides breathtaking results. With this reaction that is completely natural to the floor, stunning variations occur. Because each tree has a different molecular makeup in different years, each growth ring may show a different intensity of color. Because some trees grow at the top, middle, or bottom of a particular hill, then these trees offer different intensities. As well, a different intensity of color is achieved from the center of the log as it radiates out.

All of that color will average out to a median color of the floor, but within it, each board gets to be a unique expression of color. Each floor is one of a kind. In addition to gorgeous random grain patterns, that coloring is going to be unique to that specific board and that specific combination of boards in your home.

Silvian – Luonto, a Revelarre floor

Revelarre allows you to call the shots and do things with wood to achieve a different color that is not typically natural but will color that wood in a natural way. In other words, you can have grays that are not painted grays. In the Steadfast Collection, a number of neutral grays still allow for a variation that is very natural to both hickory and maple in that line.

If you are interested in medium and darker browns that are not typically natural to white oak, you can achieve that with Revelarre. You can take that white oak style you like and put on a true brown coloring to go with the aesthetic of your home and maintain that natural look of the wood fiber.

Meeting everyone’s design and budget needs

When taking a close look at both of these processes (laying color or altering fiber), neither is better.

Some colors you can only achieve through pigments or dyes. Some design requirements are looking to feature the natural aesthetic of the wood, so we know it’s important to have an offering of Revelarre.

By providing both of these options, we’re allowing customers at every budget level to have access to the breathtaking beauty of wood floors from a wide spectrum of hues and tones. We are constantly looking for new and innovative methods that showcase the natural features of a wood floor. We also test out new coloring techniques. Only after our coloring techniques are perfected will we add new lines and new products. We hope you have such a floor with us. If not, please consider browsing our collections for the perfect color in your home.