Most wood flooring effects are surface treatments in the form of colour stains and/or texture applied prior to the sealing the floor with a clear varnish or Hardwax Oil. As these are surface only treatments, any subsequent sanding of the floor will remove them permanently. It is therefore appropriate to consider the long term maintenance of the floor before committing to a pre-finished floor stained floor.
Special effects generally divide into the following categories:
Usually a wire brush effect which creates unevenness on the surface and the wood appears to have been scratched along the grain.
The effect achieves a more authentic feel and gives an appearance of depth and maturity of the floor.
Stains can be water based or oil based depending on whether the final sealant is a Hardwax Oil or a Varnish.
There is an abundance of Engineered Oak wood floors based on a colour effect, these usually come at a much higher price (in comparison to an unfinished Solid or Engineered floor) and carry all kinds of fancy names.
The wisdom of this artificially created choice is very much in question as the vast majority of floors are very similar to each other, however the manufacturers fight to seal a place on the market results in a confusing variety of names. Darker stains normally referred to as "Dark Oak" or "Antique Oak" are called anything from Savannah to a New York neighbourhood.
Factory created effects cannot be replicated when the floor is eventually sanded, a fact that makes the justification of the premium prices harder still.
These are permanent effects that usually go through the entire thickness of the grain and cannot be sanded off and are usually based on Oak.
Fumed wooden floors are expensive, however the long term look of the floor is guaranteed.
Distressed wood flooring is where the planks are purposefully damaged on the sides/joints and on the surface, usually by putting them into large tumblers, together with chains so as to create a worn aged look. Distressing can also be done manually.
The overall effect of many of these floors is nice, however if the effect is too strong the floors do end up looking artificial.
Distressed floors are also notoriously bad for splinters.