By Brett Miller, NWFA
Ask any wood flooring inspector about his or her experience analyzing wood flooring failures, and many will tell you that a good number of them are not due to manufacturing issues or installation errors. Surprisingly, many happen at the point of sale, with the flooring retailer selling the wrong product for the job.
Fortunately, this issue is easily preventable with a little training and knowledge about how wood flooring will perform in different environments. Preparing sales teams with the proper understanding of how wood flooring products differ can help them educate customers and create realistic expectations about the long-term performance of their floors.
Grading is one such issue. Wood flooring is graded according to its appearance, which includes things like grain, texture, mineral deposits, and knots. When customers understand that wood is a product of nature, and that no two pieces of wood flooring will be identical, even two pieces from the same tree, they will have more realistic expectations about using wood as a flooring material.
Likewise, it is important to dispel the myths about wood flooring being bad for the environment. Wood is the only flooring material that is entirely sustainable because trees are a natural resource that can be regrown. Wood grows in a factory called a forest using a renewable source of energy called the sun. Manufacturing wood into flooring also uses less water and energy than manufacturing other flooring materials, which makes wood an environmentally friendly flooring option. Wood also is carbon neutral. During their growth cycle, trees produce oxygen. What most people don’t realize, however, is that during its service life, wood also sequesters carbon. So whatever its end use – as flooring, cabinets, even picture frames – wood continues to sequester carbon during its entire service life.
Helping consumers understand the many environmental benefits of wood flooring can lead them to choosing more wood for their flooring projects, while helping them to understand grade and performance issues can help establish realistic expectations that will result in happy customers and increased sales.