Highlights include digital printing, distressed, new strand woven and exotic concepts
By Matthew Spieler
Volume 26/Number 19; February 4/11, 2013
Wood flooring may have been one of the hardest hit categories when the housing and financial markets collapsed, but anyone walking this year’s Surfaces show floor would have been hard pressed to find any signs of a beaten industry. Rather, exhibitors of all sizes came out swinging for the fences with an array of styles and performance attributes to satisfy even the most demanding end users.
On the style side, mills displayed visuals that until now could not be achieved. But thanks to advances in technology, such as direct printing, cork suppliers are now able to offer products that no longer resemble cork but rather marble and tile as well as other types of traditional wood looks. Other visuals took advantage of distressed techniques to give the final product a worn, reclaimed look, such as wood salvaged from an old barn, while others simply took actual reclaimed wood and turned it into unique types of flooring.
When it comes to performance, companies have come up with ways to take the strand woven concept of bamboo and incorporate it into eucalyptus to enhance both its look and durability. At the same time, strand woven bamboo, along with high-density fiberboard (HDF), is being used not only to show off the look of the species itself, but as a foundation for a thin veneer of an exotic variety which is then coated with new, durable finishes to protect them under most lifestyle circumstances.
Exhibitors noted the exotic trend that was exploding pre-recession may have slowed due to the economy. However, that trend has not dampened in terms of the looks consumers still desire. This method of using just a thin veneer of exotic woods satisfies the demand for that visual but at a much more value-oriented price.
A world leader in cork flooring, Amorim came to Surfaces with a number of new offerings. Most notable was its direct printing technology, which Tim Tompkins, national marketing director, told FCNews has been in the making for more than a year. “You saw a little of it last year, but in 2013 it will be a major factor for the cork industry.”
Why? “It provides a bridge from the traditional cork look to more fashion-forward visuals. We can now create just about any type of look—from tile to stone to different types of woods—but still have the benefits of cork.”
And, thanks to Amorim’s Realistic Surface Technology, pattern repeat becomes a non-factor as each plank’s design is spaced out at no less than 20 panels.
Sixteen modern-looking vis-uals make up the initial offering—10 wood styles, some of which include the ever-popular handscraped look—and six tile, stone and granite looks. “The females walking by stop to look and touch the products because they love the visuals,” Tomkins said. “We had lots of people walking in saying ‘wow’ and wanting to know if there are distributors in their areas. It’s been very encouraging.”
With six high-end designs, the company’s new Villa Series does not come with a high-end price tag, noted Laurie Sanfilippo, marketing manager. “The collection features designer colors and a luxurious True Oil wirebrushed finish, all on extra wide 6½-inch planks that range from 1 to 6 feet in length.
Part of Ark’s Estate Collection, Villa is an all oak collection with a 3mm wear layer. Products can be merchandised in the company’s standard, single tower display that also features the rest of the Estate Collection, or with a newly sized custom unit, which holds 10 26 x 30-inch boards allowing consumers see more of the overall design. She said the new unit can showcase products in both the Villa Series and original Estate Collection.
“People are gaining more of an awareness for design,” Sanfilippo explained. “HGTV and the like show people many colors, textures and design possibilities they had never been exposed to before or maybe were afraid to explore. Now they see it used on these programs so they’re less afraid to incorporate these dynamic-looking products into their décor.”
Recognizing the popularity of the distressed look, David Keegan, COO, said the company has expanded its Suite line with two “brushed distressed” floors—Bourbon and Roasted.
Like the three previous styles in Suite, these are made from the company’s hardest strand woven bamboo, he explained. “They are made with 100% FSC-certified compressed bamboo in a solid format. It is an extremely hard floor that is ideal for high-traffic residential applications and is created by combining strands of bamboo into a unique, organic pattern, then compressed under tons of pressure. This results in an extremely dense floor.”
Each product features micro-beveled edges for a traditional plank appearance. “The entire Suite collection offers the beauty and durability of exotic woods with the sustainability of bamboo,” he concluded.
Philip Key, vice president of sales and marketing, said the company prides itself on being able to offer “unique styles and colors that allow our customers to differentiate themselves and add life to their
The company’s latest products under this concept are the Brookhaven and Camden collections. Both are made from strand woven Euca-lyptus—Brookhaven is considered a solid product as it is made from solid blocks of interlocking and compressed wood strands, while Camden is an engineered floor, constructed from compressed sheets that are cross-layered. “Eucalyptus is hard like bamboo but gives a totally different look,” he explained.
To help simplify the selling process, specifically with regard to engineered wood floors, CFS unveiled its Fabulous 5 unit. Featuring five species in both smooth and scraped finishes, all products in the display are sold at one price point. “These are all wide-width, 9⁄16-inch thick products with a 5mm wear layer,” Key said. “This will make it easier for the salesperson to sell and easier for the consumer to select a product knowing they are all in the same price point.”
Fresh off receiving the Best of Year Award for its Heritage Timber Edition by Interior Design magazine, the company took the wraps off its Vintage Remains Collection. Made from FSC-certified European oak, Scott Petersen, director of operations, said like its name implies, Vintage features a heavy texture to create a “distinct weathered look.” Available in four colors, the 77⁄16-inch-wide planks have micro-beveled edges and can be glued, nailed or floated. The line is suitable for interior, commercial, retail and residential flooring, as well as ceiling and wall panel applications.
As with all DuChateau floors, he said Vintage utilizes an environmentally friendly, hard-wax oil finish that offers “excellent durability and renewability while penetrating deep into the wood fibers and protecting from within. It is an environmentally friendly, ultra-low VOC, preservative-free, unique lustrous finish that maximizes the wood’s natural character and beauty.”
Petersen said the ingredients in the finish include sunflower, soybean and thistle oils combined with natural waxes, carnauba and canella. “It also contains tiny silicone dioxide (glass) beads, which make the floor more resilient, lustrous and benzene-free.”
DuChateau’s sister brand, Ernest Hemingway Hardwood by Royalton, continues to build on the famed writer’s lore with two additional collections: Trail Creek and Key West.
Made from mango wood, Trail Creek is 5½ inches wide and comes in lengths varying from 20 inches up to 6 feet, with a cross-kerf, hand-distressed face and micro-beveled edge.
Key West includes natural textures and relaxing tones, reminiscent of the collection’s namesake region. The oak planks are 6¼ inches wide and 6 feet in length, and have a wire-brushed surface and micro-beveled edges.
Both new collections feature an elite 10-coat RoyalGuard System UV cured aluminum oxide, polyurethane pre-finish that seals and protects the top layer, making them ideal even for commercial applications.
Late last year, TW Flooring combined its four brands of hard surface flooring options under the EcoTimber umbrella and Sur-faces gave flooring dealers and distributors their first opportunity to see and understand the company’s strategy, along with its new products and programs, noted Pete Nichols, new product marketing manager.
As such, the company now offers the following:
•Tesoro Woods, which is where all of EcoTimber’s sustainable wood flooring options are grouped. Under Tersoro, the company offers a selection of domestics, exotics, reclaimed and stranded options all suited for residential applications.
•Dasso, a brand known for innovation in the bamboo field since 1993, houses all of EcoTimber’s bamboo offerings. In flooring, Avery Chua, Dasso’s CEO, said the company offers traditional solid and engineered looks and constructions along with strand woven. Its patented EcoSolid or flattened bamboo, which utilizes the whole stalk, comes in three widths packaged in the same box.
•Corksribas is a Portugal-based cork flooring company known for its style and innovation, noted Jose Pedro Oliveira, managing director. Under EcoTimber, he said the company offers EZcork, which features the more traditional cork looks, and the Designer Series, which offers the new direct print technology that “allows us to produce almost any visual while keeping the technical attributes of cork.”
•Wood Floor Resource Group is EcoTimber’s commercial brand and serves the needs of the A&D community, builders and store planners. The line offers a variety of standard and designer products as well as value
engineered flooring for budget-conscious jobs and acrylic-infused wood for more demanding commercial applications.
The big item on display was the Royal Residence collection, no-ted company officials. Available in five styles—Florence, Palermo, Messina, Tuscany and Ferrara—each board is made from Asian ash wood, features a 3mm wear layer and is 7½ inches wide and up to 6 feet long. Styles come in handscraped and wirebrushed finishes.
Recognizing its distributors and dealers require “demonstrable quality advantages,” the company unveiled its new PLUS strategy—Premium fashion, Lifetime warranty, Ultimate lengths and Superior wear. Ron Oliver, vice president of sales and marketing, said the company is able to offer a lifetime warranty due to such developments as Hallmark’s TrueMark Poly and NuOil finishes along with using a 4mm sawn face.
Alta Vista is the first collection to feature the NuOil finish. It is available in eight styles—seven French white oak colors and one American walnut color. Boards are 7½-inches wide with random lengths up to 6 feet. Oliver said 80% of the boards in each box are full length.
Moderno is another new collection, featuring lengths up to 7 feet and includes French white oak, American hickory and American maple. Oliver said its 4mm sawn cut wearlayer allows it to be resanded at least three times.
What truly differentiates the collection, he added, is Hallmark’s proprietary TreMark GlazeTek urethane finish, which provides for exceptional realism. “One of the trends you see in high-end furniture is glazed finishes that bring a depth of clarity. Those glazes have not been applicable to flooring, until now.”
The company showcased two new lines: the Aspen Series and Highland Collection.
Aspen, which includes four SKUs in walnut, maple and two hickories, features the company’s first low-luster finish. The low gloss helps accentuate the product’s aged appearance, which is reminiscent of old whitewashed oiled floors. Meanwhile, Highlands comes in six SKUs—three maples and three hickories— and features a more heavy type of scrape that brings out the wood’s natural character. Each box contains a variety of widths, including 3, 5 and 7 inches.
Jamann Stepp, vice president of sales, said the company came to market with an array of products designed to offer high-end looks at more value-oriented prices in addition to a new display that lets dealers “choose whatever they think is best for their individual markets.” Included are a selection of hickory and oak products in two widths—5¾ and 3½ inches—mixed together in the same box. These products feature a number of looks, including distressed and wire-brushed.
Stepp said one of the more innovative lines being offered features either an acacia or ipe overlay on a strand woven HDF core. “They are rotary printed on bamboo, so they have exotic looks at half the price. The
company is also offering similar types of designs, including Brazilian cherry and tigerwood, featuring a horizontal tongue-and-groove construction.
Known for its authentic handscraped woods by Amish artisans, HomerWood has expanded its product offerings for 2013 with the introduction of the Premium Hardwood Collection. Featuring 54 visuals in all sorts of colors and textures, Wendy Wescoat, sales and marketing manager, said the line is de-signed to give distributors more options to offer dealers. “Homer-Wood has been known as a character wood manufacturer, but dealers want more than just vintage looks. So we partnered with our distributors to establish color pallets to reflect their markets.” The line, she explained, features “cleaner visuals in solid and engineered constructions—from rustic to contemporary—to meet any décor.”
The company has developed a new display especially for the collection. The merchandising unit holds 35 of the 54 SKUs, “so it can be very flexible and allows distributors to fill it with products specifically for their retail customers.”
Editor’s note: Both Armstrong and Mannington showcased numerous wood products at Surfaces. See the Jan. 7/14 issue of FCNews for Armstrong’s introductions, and the Jan. 21/28 issue for Mannington’s.