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How to WireBrush Distress Hardwood Floors

atlas how to wirebrushed floor


What are Wirebrushed Wood floors?

 Wirebrushed Hardwood Floors are floors which are distressed by using, literally, a wire brush to remove the soft grain, leaving the heart wood elevated. This process created a rich texture that highlights the natural beauty of the patterns in the hardwood. This is also known as "European" style wood floors. Wirebrushing can be done with both hardwood and engineered wood flooring


What Are the Benefits of Wirebrushed Hardwood Floors?

1.) Hiding Blemishes:

  • Wire brushed and etched floors offer a subtle texture to a floor while maintaining a smooth appearance.  Wire brushing pulls the soft grain from the growth ring leaving the heart wood exposed to the surface.  This helps create a more durable floor that is able to mask mis-haps from everyday occurrences.

2.) Reduced Maintenance:

  • Although wirebrushed floors still need regular maintenance to avoid excessive wear and tear, having wirebrushed hardwood floors reduces the frequency of maintenance. People with high gloss flooring are in a constant battle with dirt and debris, and dust, and must sweep/dust daily in order to maintain the finish on standard hardwood floors. Since the finish on wirebrushed floors is satin, or matte, there is little need to be as diligent about cleaning and dusting your floors

3.) Pets:

  • The damage that pet nails would do to ordinary hardwood flooring means that many home owners feel as though they cannot have a pet, and a beautiful hardwood floor at the same time. Wirebrushed floors hide the blemishes that are usually caused by dogs or cats gaining traction on hardwood floors. This means that home owners can rest at ease and consider wirebrushed hardwood floors as a viable option to keep both the family pet and beautiful hardwood floors

4.) Style:

  • Wirebrushed hardwood floors are all the rage in this year’s interior design trends. As homeowners buy homes which cost less and less maintenance, options like wirebrushed finish on wood floors is becoming a hot commodity

5.) Safety:

  • Because they are less slick than standard hardwood flooring, there is far less risk of slipping on wirebrushed floors.


 DIY Wirebrushed Hardwood Floors:

What you'll need:

  • A wire brush
  • Hand Held Sander with fine grit sandpaper (220)


  • You can put a coat of polyurethane over wirebrushed flooring to protect it from moisture. Choose a satin finish
  • Sand or other particulates can aid in the brushing process as well by acting as an abrasive substance



1.) Test Area

  • Choose a small area of flooring (recommended under a sofa or in a closet) to test out your wire brush
  • Use the sander to gently sand away the current finish in your test area
  • Leave the shavings on the test area. If you decided to use sand, sprinkle a tiny bit over the area you’re going to test
  • Using the wire brush, go over the sanded area with and against the grain. Try going back and forth instead of in circles
  • This should give you a good idea of the amount of sanding, pressure, and time it will take to cover your whole floor.

2.) Section off the Floor

  • Observe the direction of the grain on your floor
  • We suggest using painters tape
  • Section off a 2'x2' area at a time. 

3.) Remove Finish

gently sand off finish

  • Use the sander to gently remove the varnish
  • Go back and forth over each plank, first with, then against the grain. Avoid circles.
  • If you have engineered hardwood floors, you must be especially careful to avoid sanding all the way through the wood veneer on top of your composite material underneath!
  • Leave the shavings on the floor

4.) Wire Brush

 atlas hardwood flooring wire brush

  • Take a small handful of sand and gently dust the area to be brushed
  • using a wire brush, go back and forth over each plank going first with, and then against the grain
  • Make sure that the strokes against the grain are substantially lighter/softer in pressure than with the grain!
  • Avoid any knots in the floor
  • try alternating pressures and angling the brush at different angles to allow the bristles to make contact with the flooring in different ways 
  • This will take a decent amount of elbow grease! Dig in. 
  • Check your progress every few strokes to ensure that the grain of the wood remains elevated while the softer wood in between is gently removed.

5.) Clean and finish

finish floor


  • Once you have completed a section, use a vacuum to clean up excess sawdust and sand
  • Once you have completed the floor, thoroughly sweep and vacuum the floor
  • DO NOT USE DAMP OR WET MOPS- you will cause the wood to swell and can ruin your floor!
  • Once you have cleaned the floor and are absolutely sure there are not more particulates or sand shavings, apply a coat of floor sealant in a satin finish and allow to dry overnight. 


 Wirebrushing Wood Floors is an Art, Not an Exact Science

So feel free to try out slight variations until you find the method which works best for you. Eventually, you will want to end up with a wood floor that has the grains in the wood raised, and the surrounding areas depressed. This will add texture and depth to your flooring!



Published: 4/11/16

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Contact The How to WireBrush Distress Hardwood Floors Team:

Atlas Custom Hardwood Flooring is a full-service How to WireBrush Distress Hardwood Floors company that can meet all your needs. From sales to refinishing and installations, we offer many flooring services at affordable prices. Contact us at (866) 601-6833.