Wood: Flooring products find home with wall applications

Home Inside FCNews Wood: Flooring products find home with wall applications

January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15

By Nicole Murray


Luxury vinyl tile, laminate and wood products that are typically used for flooring installation have expanded to wall applications. Experts cite design elements and functional attributes as the primary reason.

According to Drew Hash, Shaw Floors’ vice president of hard surface, this flourishing trend is not surprising as new ideas are developed in flooring every day as the industry continues to break away from conventional ideas.

“Inspiration is everywhere now that we have expanded the use of typical flooring products in different ways,” he said. “With all the options available, consumers have the freedom to make a statement with their flooring and wall applications, and can design a home that speaks to their individual and dynamic personalities.”

End users are now more willing to try atypical designs on walls as opposed to the standard styles often found on floors.

“Wall coverings typically cover a smaller surface area compared to traditional flooring, so to make up for the lack of space end users are choosing bold and dramatic choices to create a unique-to-them aesthetic,” explained Bill Schollmeyer, CEO of Johnson Hardwood.

This bolder trend seen on walls is possible thanks to the printing technology now available, which allows end users to choose products that won’t compromise fashion for function.

Design advantages
Tile is one such stylish product that is commonly seen on walls. “The marketplace has become much more educated on the beauty of tile and its performance and design advantages,” said Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville. “Just about any pattern can now be printed and therefore used throughout a space, which people are doing because they are ready to use tile in a nonconventional way.”

An exceedingly popular option is wood-look tile. This aesthetic offers a warm feel from a product that can withstand high wear and tear.

“The wood look on porcelain tile is top notch thanks to digital technology,” Waldrep noted. “All the sustainable attributes and positive long-lasting effects of tile apply while accomplishing the realistic wood-like texture.”

Wood products themselves are being utilized in areas where comfort is key, and some consumers don’t necessarily want the tile emulation of wood but the real thing.

Mitch Tagle, CEO, DuChateau, explained, “You will never be able to mimic the authenticity, richness and warmth that a high-standard wood product has to offer.”

In addition, wood offerings can be made to match the aesthetic of various spaces and different applications because of the variety of colors and finishes available.

“Wood products are diverse and can be applied to many different spaces that require an essence of relaxation but have very different vibes such as offices, hotel lobbies or even coffee shops,” Schollmeyer added.

More complex three-dimensional wood pieces have made their way up the wall because these handcrafted, one-of-a-kind products feature designs that cannot be duplicated.

“You cannot make the same piece twice,” Tagle said. “We look for inspiration from the elements so the shapes and patterns in nature are mimicked within our three-dimensional designs. Customers can have custom patterns made to match their specific requests.”

In addition, these handmade pieces allow an extra margin opportunity for the retailer because each project requires more effort.

“The handcrafted work used as accent pieces are much more expensive and valuable because in essence it is a piece of artwork,” said Dewevai Buchanan, president of Suncrest Supply. “It requires more time and attention to detail to make and usually is one of a kind because of the natural design wood offers in and of itself.”

Popular installation patterns for flooring on walls include chevron, herringbone and hexagons. Varied shapes and layouts provide focal points that make daring yet tasteful statements within a space.

“Geometric shapes offer a whole new approach to achieving a bold, accented design,” Waldrep said. “Between the various sizes and colors of the geometrics, the product can set the tone and be made appropriate for different environments.”

Geometrics along the wall also offer the ability to manipulate how a space feels or looks depending on the angle of the shapes in comparison to surrounding designs.

“Optical illusions can be achieved depending on how shapes are placed,” Waldrep added. “For example, an area can be given a heightened and much more spacious feeling solely by alternating colors throughout the pattern so shapes appear to be farther apart.”

With that, greens and blues have become a rising color trend for walls because these natural colors help bring elements of the outdoors in. “People are drawn to these designs because humans tend to be much more relaxed when they feel they are connected with nature,” Shaw’s Hash noted.

DIY friendly
The “vertical” trend of using flooring on walls is DIY friendly as it offers a much simpler installation and removal process due to the minimal amount of adhesive needed. This allows for an easier trial-and-error phase when designing a space.

“End users are given the opportunity to experiment,” said Angela Duke, senior brand manager, Mohawk. “If they end up hating it, Mohawk’s website contains clear instructions of how to change or remove the product so people can experiment until they are satisfied with the final design.”

Similarly, Waldrep explained that gauged porcelain tile, or thin tile, has become a prime choice for wall applications because it can be placed over other materials.

“[Thin tile] can be applied directly over existing tile, stone or brick,” Waldrep said. “There is no need to pull up the previous materials and there is room to constantly evolve the design in fewer steps.”

As a result, the DIY crowd has developed its own community within the flooring industry where ideas are consistently being shared via social media and blogs.

“There are great ideas across social media platforms of what people are using as the focal points of their designs,” Waldrep said. “They have become their own marketing tool because people are heavily invested when they personally install.”

Bonus: hygiene and safety
Wall tile in particular has also become more eco-friendly and can offer a healthier interior that is easier to clean and maintain.

“Health is the new wealth and these products are the long-lasting and elegant solution that will create hygienic spaces in high-traffic areas,” Waldrep said. “They are perfect for spaces that should not harbor bacteria such as under hand dryers, check-in counters and around doors.”

Suncrest Supply’s Buchanan added that implementing a fire safety component is a must when selling wood and becomes its own selling point when comparing it to other products.

“We have seen a high demand for products with a Class A fire rating and it is key when designing a good wall program. People only want to use the product if it is safe.”


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