By Reginald Tucker
The beauty of real hardwood married with the performance of rigid core technology. That’s what the latest innovation in flooring is offering consumers in an age where waterproof is king.
For the past few years, the wood flooring category has watched as competing hard surfaces—particularly LVT, WPC and SPC—have nipped significant market share. Industry observers point to, among other things, the ability of these competing products to offer consumers realistic replications of wood without the shortcomings associated with natural materials such as wood. On top of that, these alternative products are often available at the fraction of the cost of the real thing.
But wood flooring suppliers have gotten wise and are increasingly developing and marketing hybrid products that offer the best of both worlds. The recent proliferation of wood-rigid core hybrid products is not only providing retailers with innovative new options to sell. It’s also giving manufacturers an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition in a nascent category.
Following is an overview of some of the latest wood-rigid core hybrid products currently available:
Originally launched in the spring of 2018 with a real bamboo wear layer atop a waterproof limestone composite core, GeoWood from Cali Brands has expanded to include a real European oak wear layer. This technological breakthrough yields rock solid hardwood flooring with exceptional water resistance.
“Rather than bury exceptions deep into a warranty, we chose to state up front that this is real wood on a waterproof core and gave it an overall water resistance rating,” said Alex Brodkin, new product introduction manager. “GeoWood carries so many features and benefits; superior water resistance is just one selling point. It’s also more dimensionally stable, more dent resistant and easier to install than typical engineered wood floors. Plus, a 7-coat aluminum oxide scratch resistant finish keeps planks looking fresh.”
American OEM and Hearthwood Floors are bringing the future of hardwood to the flooring industry with the launch of Raintree. The product’s proprietary Ninja technology reinforces the natural hardwood wear layer to protect against moisture, scratches and indentation better than traditional wood flooring, while offering the same beauty, authenticity and value-adding elements that make real hardwood the No. 1 flooring choice for today’s consumers.
The proprietary Ninja Pet Guard finish seals the wood’s pores. Plus, the finish is infused with aluminum oxide to provide exceptional scratch and wear resistance. The Ninja H2O Core reinforces the wood for indentation resistance. From spills to heels, the Ninja H2O Core is 100% waterproof and indentation resistant, and it can withstand high-traffic and heavy loads.
FLOORTÉ HARDWOOD—SHAW FLOORS
Shaw Floors, maker of the Floorté resilient line, now offers retailers Floorté Hardwood, an innovative product combining the attributes of SPC flooring with the classic character and feel that can only come from genuine hardwood. Floorté Hardwood utilizes a waterproof SPC core to give consumers the stability, strength and protection they expect from the Floorté PRO collection with the added beauty of a hardwood veneer on top.
Floorté Hardwood features a click profile and can be installed quickly over an existing flooring or subfloor. An attached Soft Silence acoustical pad ensures comfort and sound reduction.
The product is available in multiple species, finishes, sizes and colors, with planks 7.5 inches wide and up to 72 inches long.
COREtec Wood truly is the best of both worlds. COREtec Wood is not a vinyl product, but rather a multi-layer product in the wood category.
Real wood veneers cover an innovative, mineral core to create a carefree floor with truly authentic wood grains, tones and appeal. COREtec Wood’s revolutionary rigid mineral core is completely waterproof and more rigid than traditional engineered hardwood HDF and ply cores. Boasting superior indentation resistance and dimensional stability, the core consists of a mined mineral that forms a solid panel and is free of PVC and plasticizers. A natural cork underlayment provides comfort and warmth underfoot.
COREtec Wood comes in 72-inch x 7 1⁄2-inch planks with hefty 1⁄2-inch total thickness.
HDPC WATERPROOF HARDWOOD FLOORING —WELLMADE
“Wellmade’s HDPC Waterproof Hardwood Flooring represents the industry’s first hardwood floor that is 100% waterproof,” said Steve Wagner, director of sales and marketing. “The product has a proven track record of success among retailers and distributors.”
Wellmade’s innovative waterproof process begins with its patented high-density plastic composite core whose closed cell construction is extremely dense; it eliminates air pockets and the potential for moisture absorption. Next the hardwood wear layer is bonded directly to the HDPC core and completely sealed using Wellmade’s HardMax finish system. Topical moisture and stains are sealed out from above while the HDPC core blocks out moisture penetration from below.
What’s more, the product is twice as hard as solid oak and tolerant to temperature fluctuations. Best of all, no acclimation is required.