Following is the 16th edition of the Real Wood Coalition editorial coverage, which can also be seen in the November 1 print edition of FCNews.
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
Today’s exotics reflect end-user demands for wood floors
that are unique but still trendy
Along with the overall resurgence of hardwood flooring today, several sub-categories within the sector are likewise increasingly in popularity. This is especially true when it comes to tropical exotic species predominantly from South America. The common misperception about exotics—at least those species that were first introduced to the U.S. market roughly 15-20 years ago—is that the color palette over time fell out of favor with American consumers enamored with oak and maple. Nothing could be further from the truth, importers say.
“Our customer base still has a significant number of consumers that desire hardwood flooring from Brazil,” said Rick Holden, CEO of Willow Grove, Pa.-based Derr Flooring, which stocks the Indusparquet brand. “They are looking for that unique color palette combined with the hardness of those exotic species. Indusparquet has evolved their color palette to include more on-trend visuals. The collections include much more than the traditional red tones; beige, gray and mocha tones are now part of most exotic collections.”
Derr Flooring’s top-selling Indusparquet offerings run the gamut across both the color spectrum and format options. “Our customers still prefer the traditional 3⁄4-inch solid Solido and 1⁄2-inch engineered Classico collections,” Holden noted. “Brazilian cherry and tigerwood remain our best-selling species, but we have seen other species grow in popularity due to their trendy color tones. Our emphasis in 2022 will be to focus on the engineered Largo collection, which showcases wider widths and wire brushing.”
Derr Flooring isn’t the only Indusparquet distributor reporting strong interest in exotics. Sean Connolly, regional vice president of sales at Patriot Hardwood—which is owned by Belknap-White Group—is also seeing good sales. “To be a true floor covering distributor, you have to diversify, and that’s one of the best things about Indusparquet,” he said. “They have the basics—Brazilian cherry, tigerwood, cumaru and Brazilian chestnut, but they also introduced a Brazilian oak—a wide-width solid and engineered line that has some of the top colors that are popular today. We’ve done very well with the basic Brazilian cherries, but even better with Brazilian oaks.”
No substitute for the real thing
In today’s hyper-competitive market, 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, observers note.
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 water- proof, real wood has the advantage in that it provides a natural look that cannot be fully duplicated using alternative materials.
“If consumers prefer real wood, then why are we trying to sell them something different?” asked Michael Martin, CEO of the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). “As an association, what we’re trying to do is to help our supplier/retailer members promote real wood and help consumers understand the difference in the flooring types because there’s a lot of false marketing in the marketplace. It’s just causing confusion, and I think that’s unfortunate.”
Martin also said he feels wood look-alike categories are cannibalizing real wood flooring, which generally has a higher margin and a higher sales point. “It doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would you cannibalize a product that’s only going to add value to a home and that’s in demand from consumers? Why are you selling against that as opposed to selling the attributes of real wood? The value proposition isn’t there the same way that it is with other floor coverings.”
TRIED AND TRUE
Somerset’s SolidPlus engineered flooring, available in plank widths, prepackaged random widths and extra-wide styles, is an excellent choice for above or below-grade installation. The line boasts the stability of a 7-ply birch core that minimizes expansion and contraction. SolidPlus is made in the USA, is 1⁄2-inch thick with a 3mm wear layer, topped with Somerset’s Ultimate finish.
NEW AND NOTABLE
Mercier Naked Collection
Mercier’s unique finishing process utilized in its Naked Collection works by sealing the original color of the raw wood species without changing its natural visual traits. The result is stain-free, raw-looking hard maple, white oak, American walnut and hickory hardwood floors protected with the Mercier Generations or commercial-grade Generations Intact 2500 finish.
Parterre Commercial hardwood expands AHF Product’s offerings
Parterre, an AHF Products brand, introduces three new commercial engineered hardwood flooring lines for the architecture and design community: Deeply Rooted, Nurtured and Wood Habitat.
Deeply Rooted features eight SKUs in varying natural shades of white oak, including soft whites and beiges to neutral grays and browns. Options range from 7 1⁄2 inches or 9 inches wide with a minimum length of 15.7 inches and a maximum of either 75.6 or 86.6 inches.
Nurtured features eight SKUs that include white oak, red oak and hickory. The white oak and hickory products are 7 1⁄2 inches wide with a minimum length of 15.7 inches and a maximum length of 75.6 inches. The red oak products are 6 1⁄2 inches wide with a minimum length of 10 inches and a maximum length of 60 inches.
Wood Habitat features a total of eight SKUs that include maple, birch and hickory. The colors range from light and modern to darker and more traditional tones; designers can combine a few different SKUs for the same space since the colors flow easily from one to the next. All Wooded Habitat products are made in the U.S.