These features include educational insights, new and staple hardwood products and a spotlight featuring one of the Coalition’s members. A new edition of RWC coverage will be available in every print issue of FCNews throughout the year.
DID YOU KNOW
Helping consumers understand exactly what’s covered in manufacturer warranties
With so much emphasis on “waterproof ” protection in today’s uber-competitive retail environment, it’s tempting to get carried away when it comes to touting a product’s inherent as well as enhanced capabilities. That’s why it’s so critical to level with the consumer when positioning hardwood against competing categories. This is especially true when reviewing warranty provisions with the customer.
Following are some of the warranties that apply specifically to hardwood flooring:
Structural warranties. “These guarantee the milling, grade and moisture content of the wood has been manufactured within industry standards and the resulting planks are stable and sound and won’t split, crack or warp when properly installed,” said Brett Miller, vice president of technical standards, training and certification, National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA).
Finish warranties. These cover the coatings on factory-finished hardwoods, guaranteeing the finish will not wear under standard use. Finish warranties differ from structural warranties in that they will almost always place a time limit on the number of years for which the warranty is valid.
Waterproof warranties. These types of warranties vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer as well as product type. Some waterproof warranties only provide protection against common everyday spills and are only covered if accidents are addressed in a specific time-frame—usually 24-72 hours. Other waterproof warranties exclude bottom-up moisture incursion. Then there are situations where floors deemed as waterproof suffer catastrophic damage from natural disasters or household accidents. In most cases entailing significant water incursion, many insurance companies will require the floor be replaced anyway in order to address potential long-term mold issues.
There are some exclusions under most manufacturers’ warranties. For example, “natural wood characteristics” are not considered defects. Also, factors such as age, wood grade and exposure to sunlight will impact the visual appearance of wood, according to Miller.
There’s nothing like the real thing
There are many synthetic hard surface products designed to look like wood, but nothing beats the visual appeal and characteristics of the real thing, hardwood enthusiasts say. While it’s true that replications are getting closer to the real thing, the trained eye will still find repeats throughout the boards. This despite advancements in digitally printed designs on film. But this doesn’t happen with real hardwood; you can put a thousand pieces of wood on the floor and they will all have something different about them.
These attributes give RSAs a compelling selling advantage when persuading consumers to come back to hardwood. “Converting shoppers into happy purchasers is every retailer’s goal,” said Chris King, vice president of sales, AHF Products. “Hardwood, now more than ever, is a powerful tool to achieve that objective.”
There are other benefits to selling real wood—both for the retailer and the homeowner. The dealer benefits because most hardwood flooring jobs provide higher margin opportunities. For the consumer, the installation of a real hardwood floor translates into a higher resale value if/when she decides to sell her house. And although no real hardwood product can ever be fully waterproof, real wood has the advantage in that it provides a natural look that cannot be fully duplicated using alternative materials.
“The No. 1 selling point to the customer is return on investment,” King said.
Another advantage hardwood has over competing flooring categories is the product’s longevity. Hardwood is something you can rejuvenate by changing the color if the consumer wants a different tone or stain. If the customer gets tired of the old whitewash finish, she can restore it to a finish of her choosing.
In order to better position hardwood for maximum results, the category needs to be pre- sented accordingly. At MP Caroll Hardwood in Buffalo, N.Y., for example, that’s the only product you’ll find on the showroom floor. “We do a very high volume of wood,” said Mike Caroll, owner.
For those retailers who don’t specialize, there are other ways to draw attention to the category. For example, dealers can position hardwood products and wood look-alikes side by side so consumers can discern the difference between the two products for themselves.
TRIED AND TRUE
The classic collection from Somerset
Somerset’s Classic Collection remains a popular item for retailers and consumers. Available in both 3⁄4- solid and 1⁄2-inch-thick engineered constructions, Classic provides the traditional, clean looks today’s consumers desire. The sawn face of Somerset’s 1⁄2-inch SolidPlus engineered flooring is the same coveted Appalachian hardwood as its traditional solid flooring. SolidPlus engineered gives users the benefit of multi-layer construction for greater dimensional stability.
NEW AND NOTABLE
Barnwood Living from AHF Products
The Barnwood Living Collection solid wood by Mark Bowe in collaboration with the Bruce Flooring brand and TV show host Mark Bowe was recently named one of the “30 Most Innovative Products for 2021″ by Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine.
Mirage helps ease the selection process
Mirage has launched InstaVu, a new web-based “digital decorator” that allows consumers to view its variety of flooring virtually. It’s also a tool that retail sales associates can use to walk customers through the different collections available.
How it works: Customers can either view the different products available using preset options (i.e., bedroom, dining room or living room) or they can simply upload a photo of their own space and change the look of the floor using the tool. This gives consumers the ability to instantly try Mirage floors from home, offering her a virtual reality-based shopping experience.
Additional functions allow the user to rotate the picture and change the size of the photo orientation. InstaVu also gives homeowners the option to order a physical sample. “We know that floors are a significant investment and offering the option of viewing their décor with our Mirage hardwood floors will certainly make the consumer purchasing process easier,” said Brad Williams, vice president of marketing at Boa-Franc, the makers of the Mirage brand.