Real Wood Coalition, part 16
Following is the 16th edition of Real Wood Coalition’s editorial coverage, also featured in the November 1 print edition of FCNews.
These features include educational insights, new and staple hardwood products, and a spotlight with one of the coalition members. A new edition of RWC coverage will be available in every print issue of FCNews throughout the year.
DID YOU KNOW
Today’s exotics reflect the end user’s demands on wood floors
that are unique yet trendy
In addition to the overall revival of hardwood floors today, several subcategories within the industry are also gaining popularity. This is especially true when it comes to tropical exotic species that come mainly from South America. The common misconception about exotics — at least those that were first introduced to the U.S. market about 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, say importers.
“Our customer base still has a significant number of consumers who want hardwood floors 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 varieties. Indusparquet has developed their color palette to include more trendy images. The collections encompass much more than the traditional shades of red; beige, gray and mocha tones are now part of most exotic collections.”
Derr Flooring’s best-selling Indusparquet offering includes both the color spectrum and size options. “Our customers still prefer the traditional 3⁄4-inch solid Solido and 1⁄2-inch engineered Classico collections,” noted Holden. “Brazilian cherry and tigerwood remain our best-selling varieties, but we have seen other varieties grow in popularity for their trendy color tones. Our focus in 2022 will be to focus on the developed Largo collection, which showcases wider widths and wire brushes. ”
Derr Flooring is not the only distributor of Indusparquet to report a strong interest in exotics. Sean Connolly, regional vice president of sales at Patriot Hardwood, which is owned by Belknap-White Group, also sees good sales. “To be a true flooring distributor, you have to diversify, and that’s one of the best things about Indusparquet,” he said. “They’ve got the basics – Brazilian cherry, tigerwood, cumaru and Brazilian chestnut, but they’ve also introduced a Brazilian oak – a broad solid and constructed line that has some of the top colors that are popular today. We’ve done really well with the Brazilian base cherries, but even better with Brazilian oak.”
Not a substitute for the real thing
In today’s hyper-competitive market, there are many synthetic hard-surface products designed to look like wood, but nothing beats the visual appeal and features of the real thing, say hardwood enthusiasts. While it’s true that replications are closer to the real thing, the trained eye will still find replications on the shelves. This is despite advances in digitally printed designs on film. But this does not happen with real hardwood; you can put a thousand pieces of wood on the floor and they will all have something different, observers note.
These properties give RSAs a compelling sales advantage in persuading consumers to return to hardwoods. “Turning shoppers into satisfied buyers is every retailer’s goal,” said Chris King, vice president of sales at AHF Products. “Now more than ever, hardwood is a powerful tool to achieve that goal.”
There are other benefits to selling real wood for both the retailer and the homeowner. The dealer benefits because most hardwood floor jobs offer higher margins. For the consumer, installing a real hardwood floor translates into a higher resale value if/when she decides to sell her home. And while no real hardwood product can ever be completely waterproof, real wood has the advantage of providing a natural look that cannot be fully replicated with alternative materials.
“If consumers prefer real wood, why are we trying to sell them something else?” asked Michael Martin, CEO of the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). “As an association, we try to help our suppliers/retailers promote real wood and help consumers understand the difference in floor types because there is a lot of false marketing in the market. It just creates confusion, and I’m sorry about that.”
Martin also said he feels that categories that look like wood cannibalize real wood floors, which generally have a higher margin and higher point of sale. “It makes no sense to me. Why cannibalize a product that only adds value to a home and is in high demand from consumers? Why do you sell for that instead of selling the properties of real wood? The value proposition is not there in the same way as with other floor coverings.”
TRY AND TRUE
SolidPlus from Somerset
Somerset’s SolidPlus floors, available in plank widths, prepackaged random widths and extra wide styles, are an excellent choice for installation above or below ground level. The line has the stability of a 7-ply birch core that minimizes expansion and contraction. SolidPlus is made in the USA, is 1⁄2-inch thick with a 3mm wear layer, coated with Somerset’s Ultimate finish.
NEW AND REMARKABLE
Mercier Naked Collection
Mercier’s unique finishing process used in the Naked collection works by sealing the original color of the raw wood without altering its natural visual properties. The result is stain-free, rough-looking hard maple, white oak, American walnut and hickory hardwood floors, protected with the Mercier Generations or Commercial-grade Generations Intact 2500 finish.
Parterre Commercial hardwood expands AHF Product range
Parterre, a brand of AHF Products, introduces three new commercial parquet lines to the architecture and design community: Deeply Rooted, Nurtured and Wood Habitat.
Deeply Rooted has eight SKUs in different natural shades of white oak, from soft white and beige to neutral gray and brown. Options range from 7 1/2 inches or 9 inches wide with a minimum length of 15.7 inches and a maximum of 75.6 or 86.6 inches.
Nurtured has eight SKUs, including white oak, red oak, and hickory. The white oak and hickory products are 7 1/2 inches wide with a minimum length of 15.7 inches and a maximum length of 75.6 inches. The red oak products are 6 1/2 inches wide with a minimum length of 10 inches and a maximum length of 60 inches.
Wood Habitat has a total of eight SKUs, including maple, birch, and hickory. The colors range from light and modern to dark and more traditional shades; designers can combine a few different SKUs for the same space, as the colors flow from one to another with ease. All Wooded Habitat products are made in the USA