By Reginald Tucker
With all the rapid advancements the industry is witnessing today—particularly in resilient flooring products like LVT, WPC and SPC—a lot of attention is shifting away from traditional flooring products, especially alternatives like bamboo. However, several bamboo suppliers are looking to change all that by giving retailers—and by extension, their customers—more reasons to give the category another look.
Part of the strategy lies in altering the surface/wear layer of traditional bamboo flooring to not only make it more aesthetically pleasing to residential customers as well as commercial specifiers/designers, but also to put the product in a better position to compete with the trendy, eye-catching visuals we’re seeing in competing categories.
Case in point is the Opti-Wood strand bamboo line from Wellmade Performance Flooring. Billed as the next generation of waterproof strand bamboo floors, Opti-Wood strand bamboo features Wellmade’s patented HDPC rigid core, topped with a natural strand bamboo wear layer. Opti-Wood strand bamboo touts waterproof performance and installs without acclimation, locking together easily without additional glue or underlayment. Twice as hard as solid oak flooring, the product provides superior dent and scratch resistance.
Not only does the product perform well, but it looks good, too, according to Steve Wagner, director of sales and marketing. In developing the product line, he said Wellmade focused on trendsetting textures and visuals throughout the collection. While mainstream carbonized and natural strand woven colors are available, enhanced glazing techniques have yielded a wide range of contemporary gray and earth tones featuring character-inspired, striking color variations. “Wellmade has explored the entire gamut of surface textures from smooth and handscraped or sculpted to lightly distressed with or without random chatter marks,” he explained. “Today’s low-gloss, wire-brushed finishes are also prominent throughout the collection.”
Wellmade is not the only supplier of bamboo floors that’s kicking it up a notch or two. Cali, maker of the Eco- Engineered line, recently expanded its bamboo offering with four new contemporary styles, bringing to 16 the total offering in the bamboo category. The line features a thick, 4mm wear layer of fossilized bamboo supported by a sustainable eucalyptus plywood core for strength and stability. A poplar backing provides a balancing layer. Planks measure 72 7⁄8inches long, 5 5⁄16inches wide and 9⁄16-of-an-inch thick for faster installation.
Even more important than all the bells and whistles is the green story. “Bamboo is the planet’s fastest growing plant, and eucalyptus is the fastest growing tree—both of which yield a high-quality, renewable building material without causing any damage to the plant or surrounding environment during harvesting,” said Doug Jackson, Cali CEO. “Plus, the floors utilize only top-quality raw materials and adhesives, ensuring planks are non-toxic and completely safe for the home with low VOCs and no added urea formaldehyde.”
Other key attributes of the Cali Eco-Engineered line compared to its solid counterpart include an innovative locking system for floating installations. The product may also be direct glued in certain applications.