Vertical applications coordinate, contrast with floors
May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24
By Reginald Tucker
Using flooring materials on the walls is by no means a new concept. Tile manufacturers have been doing it for years, and laminate flooring suppliers have also recently started to get in on the act. Now hardwood flooring producers are having success by finding multiple uses for their products by dressing vertical surfaces to either complement a particular commercial or residential interior, or to better coordinate with a given hardwood flooring collection or pattern.
“Wood on the walls is a trend that will continue and grow as it is a way to get color and texture on the walls while maintaining a monochromatic look,” said David Holt, senior vice president, Mohawk. “Also, it is much easier to change wood and laminate walls than ceramic walls.”
But the best part about using existing hardwood planks or strips on the walls is you don’t have to necessarily redesign the product. “All of our hardwood collections are perfect for vertical applications,” Holt explained.
In that same vein, engineered wood floors from Shaw are also approved for wall installations. “Coveted wood visuals offer a rustic, natural charm in these non-traditional applications,” said Natalie Cady, hardwood category manager.
Other major manufacturers are encouraging retailers and designers to utilize hardwood flooring in unconventional ways. At USFloors, for instance, the company’s popular Castle Combe line of handcrafted floors is suitable for both horizontal and vertical installations. The natural oil finishes provide the look and feel of an ancient reclaimed floor and combines it with the modern performance features of a 21st century engineered floor. According to Jamann Stepp, director of marketing and product management, the wide portfolio of products allows customers to make a bold design statement when installed on vertical surfaces. “This allows the designer or homeowner to make a personal statement or add a customized element to the home.”
The operative word here being “custom” when it comes to wall installations. So says Ron Sadri, principal owner of Provenza Floors, which specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind hardwood floors in colors, patterns and designs that can’t be easily shopped. The company, he said, extends that design capability to that area of its business that produces wall coverings.
Customers looking to coordinate their hardwood flooring installations with accents walls have no shortage of options. The Cabin Pine series from Mercier, for example, matches well with the company’s long-plank, rough-textured boards. “Whether the consumer is looking to add to the rustic charm of her home, or simply give a bit of pop to an otherwise bland space, she will find the perfect look and feel in one of the six featured colors that will harmonize beautifully with the rest of the decor,” said Michel Colin, director of marketing. “You can’t ignore the lightness of pine boards when looking for a quick and easy install, as they can simply be glued to the wall.”
Believing this is a trend that’s going to have legs, several manufacturers that have developed specific programs and collections for wall applications are putting significant marketing, promotional and product development resources behind those collections. Case in point is DuChâteau, which presents an exclusive line of wall coverings and doors by architect, builder and entrepreneur Joe Langenauer, who has been creating artistic interior wall coverings and doors since DuChâteau’s inception. The combination of the designer’s vision, style and experience with DuChâteau’s innovative finishing techniques paved the way for the official launch of DuChâteau wall coverings and doors divisions in 2013. According to Jose Alonso, creative director, each product Langenauer designs is infused with his cosmopolitan Mexican roots and heavily influenced by modern European trends. “His door designs are all created within the precepts of modern design, contemporary architectural lines, combining woods, leathers, fabrics, metals and other materials usually found in European luxury sports cars.”
Coming from an architectural background, Langenauer notes, “You learn to understand and appreciate the power of a proud line or the delicate nature of a well-planned curve.”
DuChâteau is not the only company putting a major thrust behind its wood-for-walls program. Via the launch of its Rowlock Plus wall coverings line in 2016, Johnson Hardwood Floors is looking to leverage the still-strong consumer demand for hardwood in general. Rowlock Plus wood wall panels are constructed from all natural wood materials. Each undressed wood piece is sanded and stained by hand to preserve the native design and characteristics of the wood species. Species include acacia, hickory, oak and walnut; a plantation pine backer layer provides additional durability.
“Johnson Hardwood’s Rowlock Plus is the newest transformation from its predecessor, Rowlock,” said Silver Pae, director of marketing. “Maintaining the elegance of all natural wood, we’ve also created a variety of styles to suit the tastes of our ever-changing generations. From vintage to modern and even eclectic, Rowlock Plus provides a diverse approach for those who want to have a unique design to their home while bringing out their own personal vision.”
While installers are already familiar with common methods of installing wood flooring, manufacturers provide in-depth instructions to make sure the job goes smoothly. For instance, Johnson Hardwood provides specific instructions covering virtually every facet of the installation, from calculating materials, locating the wall studs and spreading the glue to installing the panels and end caps.
Johnson Hardwood’s Rowlock Plus line was a big draw at its Surfaces booth in 2016—the year in which the company earned an award in the “Best Booth over 1,200 square feet” category. The 3,500-square-foot booth was the brainchild of Yuying Chiu, a design consultant for the company. According to Bill Schollmeyer, CEO of Johnson Hardwood Floors, the objective was to achieve an easy flow that encouraged customers to browse through the different areas. “We focused on vignettes that highlighted our Rowlock product to show some creative settings, both residential and commercial,” Schollmeyer said. “We wanted to showcase a mix of current products that are strong sellers—like English pub and Alehouse—innovative new products like Rowlock, and concept products like many of the oil finish colors that we showcased.”
Cabin Pine wall accents from Mercier’s Nature Collection.