Wider, longer hardwood planks maintain momentum

Home Featured Post Wider, longer hardwood planks maintain momentum

hardwood planks
Mirage expanded its popular Flair collection with maple patina, which comes in hardwood planks with widths up to 6 inches.

Consumer demand for broader, beefier hardwood planks —those products starting and 6 ½ inches wide in lengths exceeding 5 feet— continues to gain steam as shoppers opt for products that make a bold statement in their remodeling projects. As a result, manufacturers are doubling down on their offerings of wide and long boards in order to satisfy consumer appetites.

Evidence of these efforts was abundant at recent industry trade shows such as the 2023 NWFA expo and even earlier this year at TISE in Las Vegas. At both shows, for example, AHF Products showcased hardwood planks ranging from 7 to 9 inches. “We definitely play in the wide/long camp,” said Milton Goodwin, vice president. “We recently launched our Mystical Woods collection—a 9-inch-wide engineered product—along with Seaboard, a 9-inch-wide board up to 87 inches in length.”

AHF also unveiled Fathom—thicker hardwood planks featuring a 4mm dry-sawn face on a 7 ½-inch-wide plank that’s 75 inches long. It features a new texturing technique called Sculptured Dimension, which is designed to accentuate the depth of the colors in the product. “We wanted to come up with a name that conveyed the depth of the product,” Goodwin said. “The end result is a timeworn look without going back to hand scraping.”

Another show-stopping long and wide product showcased at NWFA was the new Chaletino plank from Boen, a Bauwerk Group brand. The product boasts a massive footprint—11 ¾ inches wide by a whopping 9 feet—in a sturdy engineered format. “It’s really our workhorse product here in the U.S.,” said Dan Natkin, CEO and managing director. “It’s our No. 1 seller. There are not many companies that can do almost 12-inch-wide x 9 foot boards like that—and keep it stable.”

hardwood planks
The Pinnacle collection from Harris Wood’s Naturally Aged brand features boards exceeding 9 inches in width.

Across the hall at the Harris Wood booth, attendees got their fill of wide and long hardwood planks with the company’s Pinnacle series. This hefty product boasts a thick, 4mm sawn face on a massive 9 ½-inch-wide footprint. According to Renee Tester, vice president of sales and marketing, it’s well worth the $16-per-square-foot price consumers will need to fork over to get their hands on it. “It’s the most robust product within our lineup,” she said. “We have developed nine colors in that line—mostly neutrals and taupes—and it features that oil-rubbed look with just a little bit of sheen to highlight the cerusing as well as some of the grain patterns and the wire brushing. The Texas and California markets are doing well with it—especially the multi-million dollar homes—as well as the Panhandle market and parts of Chicago.”

At the Bjelin space (formerly Välinge), its wide-width/long-length Hardened Wood boards were the focal point. Here the company showcased its new Brushed Lacquered Hardened series in XL and XXL planks, available widths approaching 11 inches x 94 inches long. “We’ve generated a lot of interest in the product,” said Iris Meana Prada, key account manager for North & South America. “It really is a dramatic presentation on the floor.” Beyond its sheer size, the new line offers both water- and impact-resistant properties.

hardwood planks
Mullican Flooring has updated its Castillian collection of long/wide planks with new colors.

Mullican Flooring refreshed its popular Castillian line of wide-plank, European oak flooring with an updated color palette. The 9 ½-inch-wide x 8-foot-long format now features more light to medium brown tones to keep pace with changing consumer demand. “Castillian has been out for some time; we’re just adding new colors to give consumers more options,” said Pat Oakley, vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s an upper-end brand—retailing at about $15 per square foot—and it continues to do really well.”

Other major suppliers have also updated and expanded their wide hardwood planks in recent months. At Surfaces, for instance, Shaw took the wraps off Expressions, a beefy, 9-½-inch hardwood flooring product that keys in on the wider/longer trend while appealing to the upscale buyer. “We’re seeing demand for more premium, thicker products,” said Matt Rosato, hard surface channel director, Shaw Floors. “In the past you had ½-inch products that were really big volume drivers, but we’re seeing higher sales performance of those wider, premium products. These include thicker products with a 4mm veneer. Consumers love to see that construction, and they want to know that they can sand and refinish it—although they might not need to do that because of the durable finish that we put on it.”

Expressions comes in 10 initial colors available in both lighter/cooler tones and warmer hues. Suggested retail price range is $15-$17 per square foot, according to Rosato.

Also new from Shaw Floors is the Gallery collection of premium hardwoods hand selected by design experts to bring natural artistry into the home. Available formats span from 7 inches to 9 inches and include popular species such as hickory or European oak. Meanwhile, the Anderson Tuftex brand features Grand Estate, an engineered line that sports a 10-inch-wide x 86-inch-long construction.

hardwood planks
The Dutch Masters collection from Provenza comes in planks measuring 9 inches wide x 82 inches long.

Another eye-catching wide/long plank product line highlighted at Surfaces was Provenza’s Dutch Masters collection, which features 9-inch-wide planks in lengths up to 82 inches. 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.

“Utilizing high-tech, state-of-the-art European machinery, the result is color consistency and finish dependability,” said Ron Sadri, principal owner. “This technology sets us apart as a global flooring company.”

RIVA Floors, another high-end producer, turned quite a few heads at its award-winning Surfaces booth, which spanned three stories. But even more impressive were the ultra-wide wood panels displayed inside the space. Most of the company’s products—which span 8-feet long x up to 10 inches wide—carry an MSRP of $12-$15 per square foot. For those with more discerning tastes, the company offers its namesake LA RIVA collection, produced in Miami and custom finished by famed artisan Tom Goddijn. The line comes in a variety of planks ranging from 8 to 14 inches wide and feature finishes created through a special reactive staining process. Suggested retail price range is $20-$25 per square foot.

“We position ourselves as a luxury producer,” said Borja Iglesias, CEO. “At the same time, the collections we have created are still accessible to the mainstream hardwood consumer. We want to make sure the product is available to the general public.”

hardwood planks
The Fabrica Wood brand offers several wide-plank offerings, including Chateau shown here.

Fabrica, another upscale brand, continues to promote its lineup of wide/long offerings, led by its signature Chateau Collection. The wide-bodied, 9 ½-inch product boasts a 4mm sawn face and 5/8 total thickness. Another collection, Relic, is built on that same platform but comes in a clean ash species in a total of eight colors. Last up is Fortress, a 7 ½-inch-wide rustic ash offering.

Another head-turning Surfaces introduction was the new Timbertop Deluxe Series from Urbanfloor. Made from Western European Oak, the enhanced Timbertop line comes in a 9 ½-inch-wide plank format with a micro-beveled edge and lengths spanning up to 96 inches. The wear layer in the Deluxe version has been enhanced with a thick, 6mm wear layer for an overall thickness of 13/16 of an inch.

SLCC, which offers a broad range of hard surface products, also showcased its wide and long wood plank offerings. There the company displayed its eye-catching Karuna line, a collection of 7-inch-wide boards in a host of trendy colors.

While many of the latest introductions focused on the popular 7 ½-inch and up range, others put the spotlight on products in the 6- to 6 ½-inch-wide tier. That’s the sweet spot for companies like Mirage, Mercier and Wickham, for example—companies that still see strong demand for more traditional formats.

“About a year ago we started to see more of a demand for the 2 ¼ strip products in some markets,” Paul Rezuke, vice president of U.S. sales, told Floor Covering News. “With changing trends, everything eventually comes back.”

Other industry observers are seeing the same thing. “Traditionally, there’s always been that market for 2 ¼ and 3 inches,” Mullican’s Oakley stated. “It would be great for us if there’s a trend back toward that because we can generate much more production of those products. In fact, we are taking more of the trendy colors and putting them on narrower widths, which creates a little more visual interest.”

Rezuke and Oakley are not alone. Executives from Mohawk are hearing rumblings of renewed interest in narrower planks as well. “For years we’ve seen longer/wider products really dominate the market, but more recently we’ve really started to hear that narrower widths are coming back,” said Paige Nichols, product director, hardwood. “We view it as a cyclical trend, so we expect to see more of that come to market. The narrower widths are going into high-rises where the rooms are typically smaller. At the same time, we don’t feel that the industry is going to go completely away from the 7-inch widths. People with wide open floor plans still want the wider products in their homes.”

Boen’s Chaletino hardwood planks are nearly 12 inches wide.

Boen’s Natkin agreed, adding: “I don’t know that wider/longer is losing its momentum as much as it is we’re seeing a resurgence in narrower planks. When you think about remodel vs. new home construction—and especially in new homes as the square footage gets smaller—that classic 5- to 7-inch plank (which used to be ‘wide’ plank but is now the standard) is certainly coming back.”

Natkin cited the company’s new Norwegian Heritage line, a 5 ½-inch-wide x 7-foot-long product. “It’s our fastest growing product right now,” he said. “It’s especially used in large project work, new home construction.”

AHF Product’s Goodwin is also seeing more demand for the narrower strip planks. But he doesn’t necessarily view it as major shift. “Our meat and potatoes products are still 5 inches and up.”

No matter which way the wood flooring trend winds blow, suppliers say they are equipped to adjust to meet demand. “AHF has been very effective in working with customers to respond quickly to whatever their needs are for their market,” Parker explained. “We partner with our customers, so they are involved in the design development. In fact, we often invite them into the plants before we introduced a product so we’re not guessing what they want and need for their markets.”

Having a predominantly domestic manufacturing base also helps. “Our domestic manufacturing gives us an advantage—we don’t have imports that take at least six months (and that’s the fastest process) to go through development to bring it to the U.S.,” Parker added. “Normally, it could take nine months to a year if you’re developing products overseas. Domestically, we can do it in less than six months.”

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May 22/29, 2023

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