Behind the Scenes with CRAFT Artisan Wood Floors: Making Savona

Photography Courtesy of CRAFT Artisan Wood Floors

With an uncompromising commitment to creating hardwood flooring that that exudes an authentic and organic feel, CRAFT Artisan Wood Floors builds on principles of biophilic design to foster a connection with the natural world in the built environment. Showcasing products that use only certified sustainable wood, CRAFT specializes in wide-plank, long-length engineered floors. Skilled artisans individually handcraft each plank using refined techniques to achieve a natural and authentic finish. The story behind the Savona collection—a handmade hickory with a neutral grey tone—captures CRAFT’s commitment to infusing interior environments with elements of the natural world.

The Idea: Crafting a natural and grey floor

Prompted by the rising demand for soft and subdued grey tones in foundational design elements, CRAFT began to consider the best approach to making a grey floor that fit within CRAFT’s aesthetic approach. “Most other flooring companies that are doing greys use oak or maple, which are quite monotone,” says Rod Gray, CRAFT’s President and Chief Sustainability Officer. “And their typical approach to manufacturing a grey floor is to simply put enough grey glazing and stain on the wood until it overpowers the wood’s underlying colors. This achieves the objective of creating a grey floor, but the wood usually ends up looking like there’s a lot of makeup plastered on, and the net result does not look very natural.” The design team at CRAFT felt that the most creative solution would be to start off by using hickory as the foundation, due to the beautifully natural and organic wood patterns that arise from the interplay between hickory’s heartwood and sapwood.

Savona is a handmade hickory with a neutral grey tone.
Photography Courtesy of CRAFT Artisan Wood Floors

The Challenge: Working with the wood’s natural tones

The only issue with using hickory as the foundation, however, is that there are some fairly strong tones inherent in the raw wood that are somewhat hard to work with, from a design perspective. “Oftentimes the natural color of hickory’s heartwood has some orange undertones, which can play havoc with the color of a grey floor,” says Gray. “Most manufacturers solve this by putting on heaps of stain and glazing, which ultimately covers up the underlying heartwood color. However, by the time you achieve that first objective, you end up with wood that has a too much opacity covering up its beautiful grain, and it doesn’t look very natural. Also, by going heavy with the surface color treatment, you end up covering up most of the heartwood / sapwood variation, which is something that we really wanted to highlight.”

The Solution: An artisanal approach

CRAFT’s way of dealing with this challenge is to start off by taking an artisanal approach. By relying on processes that involve well trained wood artisans as opposed to the more typical processes of mass production, CRAFT is able to create beautiful and unique looks. “The trick to pulling off a colour like Savona” says Gray, “is to use a specialized wood bleach that diminishes the colour intensity of the heartwood.” This process gets rid of the warmer oranges, yellows and pinks in the heartwood, and it also reduces the contrast between the heartwood and sapwood to just the right amount. “This step may sound easy, but it is actually quite complicated because bleaching wood is really hard, and it takes our team multiple steps involving bleaching, grading, then re-bleaching and re-grading, multiple times until all of the material has just the right color and there isn’t a lot of color variation from board to board,” says Gray.

Savona’s carefully crafted light grey hue preserves the wood’s natural elements.
Photography Courtesy of CRAFT Artisan Wood Floors

The Result: Light grey Savona retains its natural wood subtleties

After the bleaching and grading is complete, CRAFT gradually builds up the color through a complicated process that uses a white wood sealer to create a consistent base from which the final grey color is gradually built up. The end result unveils a carefully crafted light grey hue that aptly achieves CRAFT’s ambition of preserving the raw wood’s natural elements—from heartwood/sapwood variation to the natural color distinctions and imperfections in the grain. “If we had done what most other manufacturers do, and just piled on a bunch of stain and glazing, the subtleties of the natural wood grain would get all covered up, and it would lose its natural organic feeling,” adds Gray.

Savona is one of CRAFT’s more popular colors.
Photography Courtesy of CRAFT Artisan Wood Floors

The Result: Light grey Savona retains its natural wood subtleties

After the bleaching and grading is complete, CRAFT gradually builds up the color through a complicated process that uses a white glazing infused wood sealer to create a consistent base from which the final grey color is gradually built up. The end result is a beautifully crafted light grey hue that aptly achieves CRAFT’s ambition of preserving the raw wood’s natural elements—from the heartwood / sapwood variation, to the subtle variety of tones found in the grain of raw hickory. “If we had done what most other manufacturers do, and just piled on a bunch of stain and glazing, the subtleties of the natural wood grain would get all covered up, and it would lose its natural organic feeling,” adds Gray.

The story behind the Savona collection sums up the unique benefits of CRAFT’s carefully calibrated approach to design. CRAFT believes that each piece of wood has a story to tell, and that it takes a genuine artisan that loves and understands wood to truly listen. The unique, organic beauty that is so apparent in every CRAFT floor is a result of the time and thought that the CRAFT team puts into making its floors. Today, Savona stands an example of authentic wood craftsmanship, and so it’s no surprise that it is one of CRAFT’s more popular colors.