By: Elise Linscott
Hardwood floors are a sound investment. While the initial price tag can be higher than some other types of flooring, hardwood is durable, comfortable and beautiful, according to industry experts — and new technologies have made both solid and engineered hardwood floors more affordable and environmentally-friendly.
“Hardwood floors are a natural product derived from renewable sources that are sustainable, and no other material can replicate their natural warmth and beauty,” said Priscilla Bergeron, brand manager for Lauzon. Good quality hardwood floors can also increase the value of a home, she added.
“What makes hardwood different from other categories in the store is that hardwood is at the top of the list for most homebuyers and homeowners in terms of flooring products that they want in their homes,” said Chris Moore, senior product manager for Armstrong Flooring.
“(Hardwood) is still a tremendous long-term value for people in terms of life-cycle costs and return on investment,” added Armstrong senior product manager Michael Barnett. “Unique and specialty visuals stimulate consumers’ interest; retailers offering dramatic visuals and differentiated products at competitive prices win sales.”
For both engineered and solid hardwood, technology improvements have brought a consistency in the milling, leading to boards that interlock easily for simple installation, said Brad Williams, vice president of sales and marketing at Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage Brand.
And recent advances in technology have improved the performance and design of these products.
“On the engineered side, the ‘recipe,’ which is the thickness of the layer versus the plywood base, allows the product to go wider,” said Michel Collin, director of marketing for Mercier.
Mohawk’s new Enhanced Engineered Construction (EEC) has greatly reduced claims, splintering, edge damage and improved the speed of installation over the old traditional five ply or seven plywood constructions, according to David Holt, senior vice president, builder and multifamily retail and hard surface.
“We are also going to produce a solid wood product made with EEC,” Holt said. “Our new sawn face products made in Arkansas solve the issues with splitting and face checking and provide the deep rich textures that are desired today.”
Finishes can also extend the life of the floor and protect the initial investment of a hardwood product. Finishes like Shaw Floors’ ScufResist Platinum aims to protect the floor better than competitors — kids, pets and all, according to the company.
Even though DuChâteau still relies heavily on traditional methods and techniques regarding design development, technology advances have impacted this process, allowing the company to use innovation and take its vision into a different level, said co-founder and president Benjamin Buzali.
“We can develop not only new and exciting visuals, but also create new products with renewable materials,” Buzali said. “The latest advances in chemistry are helping us achieve textures, tones and colors like never before, while maintaining sustainability and minimizing impact on the environment.”
Mannington Mills has taken advantage of new adhesive and press technologies to provide an engineered hardwood product that is even more environmentally-friendly and safe for the home while improving the type of visuals available, said Dan Natkin, vice president of hardwood and laminate for Mannington Mills.
“Technologies such as NAF (no-added formaldehyde) glues and cold pressing sawn veneers allow new types of visuals and certifications such as FloorScore,” Natkin said. “In addition, some products benefit from machine assisted distressing, bringing more value oriented distressed products to the end consumer.”
Educating the consumer
HomerWood works hand-in-hand educating its distribution and retail partners on selling the benefits of hardwood flooring, said product manager Jennifer Allison.
“HomerWood University provides our customers with the confidence they need to sell the benefits of solid and engineered premium hardwood flooring,” Allison said. “Our website and quarterly newsletters are great resources. Our merchandising has proven to be very effective at retail and we welcome customer visits.”