Real Wood Coalition: Part 8
Following is the eighth edition of Real Wood Coalition’s editorial coverage, which can also be seen in the 14th of June 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
Helping consumers understand exactly what is covered by manufacturer’s warranties
With so much emphasis on “waterproof” protection in today’s highly competitive retail environment, it’s tempting to get carried away when it comes to touting a product’s inherent and enhanced capabilities. That’s why it’s so important to be on par with the consumer when positioning hardwoods against competing categories. This is especially true when discussing warranty terms with the customer.
Following are some warranties that specifically apply to hardwood floors:
Structural guarantees. “These guarantee that the milling, quality and moisture content of the wood are manufactured within industry standards and that the resulting planks are stable, sound and will not split, crack or warp when installed correctly,” said Brett Miller, vice president. president of technical standards, training and certification, National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA).
Finishing guarantees. These cover the coatings on factory finished hardwoods and ensure that the finish will not wear out with standard use. Finishing guarantees differ from structural guarantees in that they almost always put a time limit on the number of years the guarantee is valid.
Waterproof guarantees. These types of warranties vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer and from product type. Some watertight warranties only provide protection against common daily spills and are only covered if accidents are addressed within a specified time frame – usually 24-72 hours. Other waterproof guarantees exclude the ingress of moisture from below. Then there are situations where floors that are considered waterproof suffer catastrophic damage from natural disasters or household accidents. In most cases with significant water infiltration, many insurance companies will require that the floor be replaced anyway to address potential long-term mold problems.
There are some exceptions under most manufacturers’ warranties. For example, “natural wood characteristics” are not considered defects. Factors such as age, wood quality and exposure to sunlight will also affect the visual appearance of wood, according to Miller.
Nothing beats the real thing
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.
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 completely duplicated with alternative materials.
“The main selling point for the customer is the return on investment,” King said.
Another advantage that hardwood has over competing flooring categories is the longevity of the product. Hardwood is something you can rejuvenate by changing the color if the consumer wants a different tone or stain. If the customer is tired of the old whitewash finish, she can restore it to a finish of her choice.
To better position hardwoods for maximum results, the category should be presented accordingly. At MP Caroll Hardwood in Buffalo, NY, for example, that’s the only product you’ll find on the showroom floor. “We do a very large amount of wood,” said owner Mike Caroll.
For retailers who are not specialized, there are other ways to draw attention to the category. For example, dealers can place hardwood products and wood look-alikes side by side so that consumers can see the difference between the two products for themselves.
TRY AND TRUE
Somerset’s Classic Collection
Somerset’s Classic Collection continues to be a popular item for retailers and consumers. Available in both 3 both4-solid and 1inch2-thick engineering constructions, Classic offers the traditional, clean look that today’s consumer desires. The sawn surface of Somerset’s 1⁄2-inch SolidPlus flooring is the same coveted Appalachian hardwood as the traditional solid floor. SolidPlus engineered offers users the advantage of a multi-layer construction for more dimensional stability.
NEW AND REMARKABLE
Barnwood Living by AHF Products
The Barnwood Living Collection solid wood by Mark Bowe in collaboration with Bruce Flooring brand and TV host Mark Bowe was recently named one of the “30 Most Innovative Products for 2021” by Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine.
Mirage helps ease the selection process
Mirage has launched InstaVu, a new web-based “digital decorator” that allows consumers to virtually view the variety of floors. It is also a tool that retail salespeople can use to guide customers through the different collections available.
How it works: Customers can view the different products available using preset options (i.e. bedroom, dining room or living room) or they can simply upload a photo of their own space and change the look of the floor using the tool. This gives consumers the opportunity to try Mirage floors directly from home, providing her with a virtual reality-based shopping experience.
Additional features allow the user to rotate the image and change the size of the photo orientation. InstaVu also gives homeowners the option to order a physical sample. “We know that floors are a significant investment and offering the opportunity to view their decor with our Mirage hardwood floors will certainly facilitate the consumer purchasing process,” said Brad Williams, vice president of marketing at Boa-Franc, the makers. from the Mirage brand.