In the current inflationary climate, one might assume subsegments such as the ultra-high-end hardwood flooring market—defined as products that retail in the $14-$25-per-square-and-up range—might take a big hit. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth as discerning consumers with loads of disposable income to spend continue to demonstrate a strong appetite for high-end hardwood products boasting equally upscale visuals and features.
“There is certainly an appetite for this kind of product and it tends to be somewhat recession resistant,” said Dan Natkin, CEO and managing director at Bauwerk, parent company of the Boen brand. “For those who can afford the best, they will always spend the money.”
Some industry observers say premium products tend to be less affected by current economic conditions. “Consumers of these products are willing to cut corners elsewhere if needed in order to get the best possible hardwood product on their floor,” said Kevin Whaley, vice president of sales and product at LM Flooring, a division of AHF Products. “In the upper-end, hardwood still sells well and will continue to sell.”
It’s not that upper-end clientele are completely immune to inflationary pressures, observers say. It’s just that this category of consumer responds differently in making their purchasing decisions in such an environment. “All industries are concerned with inflation rates and the effect on homeowners who are selling, buying and especially building homes,” shared Julie VanWinkle, who serves as designer concierge at DuChateau, a specialty, high-end hardwood manufacturer. “When interest rates rise and stock markets are struggling, everyone is cognizant of what’s going on—from the mainstream consumer to the luxury buyer. The luxury buyer who tends to purchase the higher end offerings is usually more insulated.”
Nonetheless, it’s critical that retail sales associates not make automatic assumptions when quoting customers for high-end hardwood. In other words, don’t assume the customer won’t be able to afford it. “When I worked on the retail side, we would say: ‘You will never offend anyone by showing them the best,’” VanWinkle recalled. “Being out in the field and training the RSAs, I would share, ‘Just because you think it’s expensive, doesn’t mean your client thinks it’s expensive. Don’t shop your own pocket.’ I learned that lesson very early on in my career as a designer.”
Product/collection: Solano collection-LM Flooring
MSRP: $14-$16 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: The contemporary, high-end hardwood Solano collection features a 3mm, dry-sawn white oak face available in a 9⁄16-thick x 7.5-wide format in 75-inch lengths. Each plank frames the long grain pattern with only occasional hints of character, and the clean lines of the planks are lightly brushed for a subtle yet sophisticated look.
Product/collection: Grand Estate
MSRP: $23 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: Grand Estate is an oil-finished high-end hardwood collection, a first for Anderson Tuftex, which launches in 10 trendy colors. The engineered line is 10 inches wide in random lengths up to 86 inches with a 3⁄4-inch overall thickness. The veneer is European white oak topped by low-luster yet durable wire-brushed finish.
Product/collection: Chalentino collection
MSRP: $18 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: Chaletino is a 3⁄4-inch thick engineered offering measuring 11 13⁄16 inches wide x more than 9 feet long. What’s more, each plank is assembled by hand by skilled artisans. Chalet, the “big brother” to Chaletino, can go up to 16 inches wide x 16 feet long for a much more dramatic presentation.
Product/collection: Atelier collection
MSRP: $18-$20 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: Hand finished in the European wood-working tradition and perfected using modern technology, the Atelier collection from Duchateau offers the look of ancient wood but with a nature matte finish in keeping with today’s contemporary design trends.
Product/collection: Chateau collection
MSRP: $13 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: Sourced from France, the Chateau collection from Fabrica is crafted using the finest European white oak. The line comes in 9 1⁄2-inch-wide planks for a modern aesthetic. Chateau boasts eight timeless colorways to suite a variety of design tastes and preferences.
Product/collection: Pinnacle Collection by Naturally Aged
MSRP: $15 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: The Pinnacle collection from Harris Wood’s Naturally Aged line features European, engineered white oak planks in a 9 1⁄2-inch-wide, random-length format. The product, which sports a 4mm sawn top layer, is enhanced with wire-brushing, micro- beveled edges and a low-gloss urethane aluminum oxide finish.
Product/collection: Belleluxe collection by Karastan
MSRP: $13-$15 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: The Belleluxe collection from Mohawk’s upscale Karastan brand touts inspired designs, flawless craftsmanship and long-lasting materials. The company sources select European oak and maple trees for raw materials that reflect the brand’s high-end reputation. Offerings include: Ashmore & Chevreaux Oak; Villa Point Maple; and Worthington Oak & Entrevaux.
Product/collection: Castillian collection
MSRP: $15 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: Mullican Flooring, which prides itself on its Made in the USA status, offers products that span several levels of the market. At the upper end is its Castillian Premier line, which comes in the popular 9 1⁄2-inch-wide platform spanning 8-feet long. The top wear layer, which measures 4mm thick, boasts a dual-stain process in an ultra-low-gloss, aluminum-oxide finish.
Product/collection: Dutch Masters
MSRP: $16 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: The Dutch Masters collection comes in planks measuring nearly 9 inches wide x 82 inches long. With an overall thickness of 5⁄8 of an inch, the prefinished engineered offering boasts light to heavy wire-brushing coupled with a multi-stain process that is hand finished by Provenza master wood crafters in its Tustin, Calif., manufacturing facility.
Product/collection: Müller Graff
MSRP: $14 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: Müller Graff engineered hardwood flooring is made from 100% real European oak wood planks, manufactured using precision German machines. The triple-layer structure of the planks makes them incredibly strong, stable and resistant to changes in temperature and moisture. Planks boast precision beveled edges that accentuate the shape of the boards and highlight the natural patterns of the wood.
Product/collection: RIVA Max
MSRP: $12-$15 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: RIVA Max hardwood floors employ a 3-ply core structure that features an exotic teak core bonded to a European oak top layer and a pine backing layer. The end result, according to the company, is an extremely stable product that provides optimal performance. Rated among the most durable species on Earth, exotic teak (Tali) is extremely resistant to rot, changes in humidity, termites and other pests.
Product/collection: Timbertop Deluxe
MSRP: $14 per sq. ft.
Key features/attributes: Manufactured using Western European Oak, Timbertop Deluxe line comes in a beefy, 9 1⁄2-inch-wide plank format with a micro-beveled edge and lengths spanning up to 96 inches. It’s topped with a hefty 6mm wear layer for an overall thickness of 13⁄16 of an inch. The product is available in eight trendy plank designs with eight coordinating herringbone strips for customizable installations.