Wood: Prevailing trends drive flooring purchases

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By Reginald Tucker When it comes to summing up what’s hot vs. what’s not in hardwood flooring today, there are several factors to consider beyond just color, stain or style. Whether it’s top-selling visuals/species, new engineered formats or even enhancements to the product’s performance, there are trends and developments RSAs need to keep in mind when helping the consumer make an educated decision. Here’s a look at some of the primary trends driving continued interest today.

Oak, hickory reign supreme…

Ask any designer which hardwood flooring species fuels the bulk of the demand in the U.S., and the answer will invariably be white oak. “Designers and consumers can’t seem to get enough of white oak,” said Sara Babinski, senior design manager, AHF Products. “It is a beautiful domestic species that fits nicely into the minimalism trend and has a bit of a European flair. The graining has a tight knit, and the undertone Observers say white remains popular because it exudes just the right combination of subtlety and elegance, making it a top choice for many consumers today. The prominent wood grain and tree rings can add movement and delicacy to any space and its natural, earthy color spectrum ranges from light creamy beige to grayish brown. “This species creates a relaxed look with a touch of refinement for modern and classic decors alike,” said Brad Williams, vice president of sales and marketing at Boa-Franc, parent company of the Mirage brand.

Other major suppliers agree. “European oak is doing very well, mainly because what is trending is lighter, more washed, natural white colors,” said Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing, wood, Mohawk. “European oak does very well in that regard. It’s just a great off color.”

But while popular, oak is not the end all/be all. There are also all sorts of homegrown species in high demand today, including North American hickory and maple. “We believe these species are popular for flooring, not only because of their appearance but because they are high-quality U.S. species sourced from the Appalachian region,” said Paul Stringer, vice president of sales and marketing for Somerset Hardwood, which sources and manufactures only in the U.S.

…but exotics are still hot

Along with the ongoing popularity of domestic hardwood flooring species, several sub-categories within the sector are also generating interest. 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, proponents argue. can range from a warm, buttery color to slightly green.”

“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 collections.”

Wider/longer looks persist

trends
Repel hardwood floors from Shaw are designed to be ‘splash proof.’ Pictured here is Celestial oak.

Of all the different looks available in hardwood today—mixed width, herringbone, chevron, etc.—the longer/wider trend seems to be enjoying the longest streak. And based on the flow of products manufacturers are introducing today, it’s a trend that will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

Case in point is Provenza Floors, whose top-selling Tresor and Vitali European oak offerings continue to turn the heads of homeowners, architects and designers alike. “Ultra-wide and long plank collections deliver a product that can fill an interior space with the natural beauty of hardwood without the visual interruptions that occur with narrower planks,” said Ron Sadri, principal. “These ultra-wide plank floors can make any interior appear larger, grander in scale, take less time to install saving on labor costs and are suitable for both traditional and contemporary settings.”

Another eye-catching wide-plank product that’s gaining steam is white oak Cumberland from the Americana Series from Harris Wood. Now available in a hefty, 9 ½-inch-wide format in new colors, the new addition speaks directly to the popular format. “This has been part of the line since we launched it in 2019, and it’s grown to become one of our best sellers,” Renee Tester, vice president of marketing, e-commerce and digital, QEP, parent company of the Harris Wood brand.

Waterproof wood

Whether it’s a combination of a real wood veneer over a rigid/SPC core, or genuine top-to-bottom hardwood that has been enhanced with waterproof properties, today’s engineered hardwood floors are designed to be installed in areas previous off limits to wood.

A few popular examples of wood/SPC hybrids include: GeoWood (Cali) and HDPC (Wellmade). GeoWood aims to offer consumers the best of both worlds: the durability and visual appeal of real hardwood combined with the waterproof qualities of SPC. Wellmade’s HDPC Waterproof hardwood features a real wood veneer bonded to Wellmade’s high-performance HDPC/SPC rigid core, making it suitable for areas prone to moisture incursion.

Shaw Floors’ Repel, billed as being more splash-proof than waterproof, consist of 100% real hardwood planks designed for the traditional hardwood consumer who needs extra household protection. “As homeowners look to elevate their spaces and add value to their homes, hardwood is the natural choice and coveted visual,” said Nina LoCicero, vice president of marketing and digital commerce, Shaw Residential. “These shifting consumer preferences coupled with today’s supply challenges make water-resistant hardwoods a go-to solution for retailers who need to get their customers the floors they want faster.”

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Dec. 20/27, 2021

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