What is Smoked timber?

May 22, 2020

Smoked or fumed timber has been treated to alter the colour and tone of the wood.

Smoking was an accidental discovery, made centuries ago in England after it was noticed that oak beams in horse stables had darkened from exposure to the ammonia fumes from the horses’ urine. Since then, smoking has become a very popular wood treatment process among furniture makers and has been widely used to add a special dark appeal to floors.

What is involved in the smoking process?

The smoking process for wood involves putting the timber into an enclosed environment and releasing ammonia (a naturally occurring chemical) into the air. The ammonia in the air incites a reaction with the tannins (naturally occurring chemicals) in the wood, causing the wood to darken in colour. The intensity of the colour and tone change depends on how long the wood is exposed to the ammonia. Hotter temperatures during the fuming process typically result in more red tones whilst cooler temperatures results in more green tones.

What are the unique characters of a Smoked WOOD floor?

Besides darkening of the wood's natural colour, and a possible change in hue - smoking also results in increased colour variation within each board and between planks. Each piece of wood is unique and reacts differently to the smoking process depending on its tannin content. Boards from the same batch, and even different regions within a single board, can become significantly lighter or darker in colour as a result of the smoking process. This colour variation is unavoidable, and should be considered part of the unique character of a smoked product.

Why is Oak so popular for smoking?

Oak timbers are a popular choice for smoking because of their high tannin content, which produces a more rich and intense colour change. The colour of the Oak can be changed from light brown to very dark brown, depending on the length of the smoking process - whereas many other timbers will only darken by a few shades.

Advantage of smoking over staining

Smoking offers an advantage over staining as it effects a colour change throughout, as opposed to a stain which only colours the surface of the timber. This means if the surface of the floor gets scratched, the colour underneath is the same and won't stand out (which can happen with dark stained flooring). It also means that should you need to re-sand your floor down the track, you won't be removing a coloured coating but rather will retain the original colour of your floor. For this reason, smoked flooring is ideal for use in high traffic areas where scratches are inevitable.


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