Wood: Engineered flooring, knots, ‘defects’ grab show attention

Home Inside FCNews Wood: Engineered flooring, knots, ‘defects’ grab show attention

February 16/23, 2015; Volume 28/Number 17

By Ken Ryan

(Second of two parts)

The trend toward engineered hardwood flooring continued at Surfaces with prefinished oak floors, realistic visuals with knots and natural effects in vogue. Not to be outdone, a fair amount of hickory—many with darker, layered finishes—also stood out.

DuChateau Floors

One of the most talked about products at Surfaces was DuChateau’s wood wall art. These solid wood wall coverings were featured in 12 styles and 12 color combinations.

DuChateau uses a factory in Mexico to produce its wood wall coverings. The technology is different from what is typically used for wood floors. “We are trying to get the high-end designers to see that this works in high-end homes and not just restaurants,” said Rick Oswald, a DuChateau Western region rep.

Oswald said most of the wall coverings are used as accent pieces. “We’re not dealing with large volume. You don’t have to be wealthy to do 150 square feet. This has been the biggest draw for us this year.”

Ever the style leader, the look of DuChateau’s prefinished oak floors is often mimicked. At Surfaces the company sought to keep its stylish floors one step ahead of the competition with new finishes included in its Atelier collection.

Hallmark Floors

Fashion, quality and innovation are all combined in Hallmark’s new Organic engineered collection. Organic is finished with the company’s NuOil technology, which is said to enhance the wood’s performance characteristics and durability.

Hallmark uses a 10-step milling process that includes a “green sawn” cut. “You get the reclaimed visuals without that high reclaimed price point,” said Sylvia Bulanke, marketing manager. “What makes it really special is the innovation, the fact that we came up with this process that is unique to Hallmark.”

Hallmark also employs a proprietary TrueCore Centerply on its Organic collection. The process compresses the core veneers and makes the plank harder and more dimensionally stable. Organic engineered, a 3mm product, comes in variable lengths up to 7½ feet. “Our motivation is to provide good quality products for our customers so they have a variety of things to pick from,” Bulanke said.

Within the Organic collection, Hallmark is positioning Silverado Plank as the “good” and Alta Vista as the “best” due to its trending, refreshed colors.


By day three of Surfaces HomerWood was running low on samples—the price of success when so many distributors are impressed with your offerings. One product that drew attention was a red hickory. Paul Walker, general manager, said while he doesn’t think the red hickory will sell as robustly as some other products, “It is an attention grabber,” which is certainly not a bad thing at the biggest show of the year.

HomerWood’s top product at Surfaces was a hickory that uses what the company calls a “Kerf Kut” process. Kerf is the width of the cut made by a saw; in this case, the saw blade makes random cuts in 3- and 5-inch combinations to create a distinctive look.

Horizon Floors

Horizon’s New Cambridge Estate and Saddle Creek collections received rave reviews at the show. New Cambridge is a dual stained two-tone color line offering, while Saddle Creek is a 100% hand-hewn distressed product available in hickory, oak and walnut to target the growing demand of higher-end luxury homes.

“Surfaces is one of our most important shows for the year as it sets the pace for the rest of the year and certainly validates our partnership with all our customers,” said Alex Shaoulpour, president of Horizon. “It is even more reassuring as many have installed our floors in their own homes.”

The company’s Barnwood offering, in lengths up to 10 feet, drew attention from retailers walking by the booth. “That’s hot,” said Pam Benvenuti, owner of Cortopassi Tile & Stone in Sacramento. “That product will fly off the shelves. The tile companies, once they see things like this, will try to mimic that look.”


In the year since Q-Wood with Opulux finish was introduced Quick-Step has enjoyed strong initial reactions from distributors, both in the number of displays in the market and sell-through.

“Our distributors have been very receptive and very happy with it but they had a couple of things they wanted us to do differently or add to help them,” said Harry Bogner, senior vice president and general manager of hardwood for Unilin, parent company of the Quick-Step brand. “One thing they wanted was a warranty. We put a 25-year residential warranty on this product. This floor is a floating floor and has a click system similar to laminate; you can glue it or float it. They also said they would really like to be able to nail it. We had our distributors in for a preview and we demonstrated how to nail it in—big hit. We gave them the two things they wanted and they are very happy.”

The Q-Wood line is available in 13 colors consisting of a smooth collection (no scraping, no wire brush), a wire brush and soft scraped collection, and a soft scraped collection. The lineup consists of six oaks, four hickories, two maples and one walnut in total.

Somerset Hardwood Flooring

Paul Stringer, vice president of marketing for Somerset, said there is a “big delta” between low-end engineered floors and those at the high end. Somerset chooses to take the high road with a rotary sawn face collection called Solid Plus Engineered, part of the company’s wide plank collection.

The new offerings are available in maple, oak and hickory in random widths and lengths up to 10-inches wide and 6½-feet long.

“We provide great products that can provide good margins for our distributors, and there is a lot more value in the high end,” Stringer said.


Two new collections were added to USFloors’ Castle Combe Floor & Wall brand of oil finished hardwood floors. Castle Combe West End provides options for cleaner grades in a sawn face European oak. The collections feature 12 new products in a 7½ x 75 x 5⁄8 format in an engineered tongue and groove construction.

Castle Combe Artisans is an entry-level offering, with six rustic and six urban styles (lightly brushed) that provide dealers with a strong assortment.

“We’re well rounded on the rustic looks but we needed more of a strategy for all of our products,” said Gary Keeble, product and marketing manager. “Castle Combe is now our flagship. We rounded that out with West End, a more tailored, refined look. Castle Combe Originals is all very rustic and very specific to a certain design criteria that gives us a balance that rounds out the assortment with some more traditional colors—much cleaner, but it also has some more urban, statement-type products with the washes. It’s a really nice, growing part of our business that we feel strongly about.”

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