It began in the entryway, expanded into the dining room, spread to the family room and is now making its way into the kitchen and bedroom. Hardwood flooring is no longer just a building material, but rather a decorating accessory. It’s practicality and elegance is distinctive, affordable and low-maintenance.
"Carpet was king in the ’70s, ’80s and midway through the 1990s, but hardwood is once again at the top," says Mike Matotek of Skandia Floors in Philadelphia. "We do jobs everyday where people want their existing carpet removed and the underlying [hardwood] floors refinished."
"The desire for natural beauty is strong," says Randall Weeks, brand manager for Bruce Hardwood Floors. "Laminate, tile and vinyl manufacturers are all trying to get the wood look." This look is shifting from pastel and whitewashed hues to more daring selections. "People are much more educated regarding design," Weeks says. "People are getting bold."
Darker tones, including gray and burgundy shades, are gaining popularity, although natural colors remain in style. Homeowners are also opting for different species of wood other than oak. Maple is the fastest growing flooring choice in the United States. "Oak is not good enough any more," Weeks says. "Maple has the look of cleanliness and is inherently more durable than oak." Pecan, with a graining between oak and maple, is also available.
Exotic woods such as Brazilian Cherry, bamboo, teak, Santos Mahogany, Purpleheart and Australian are also soaring in popularity. "There are a lot of people looking for ways to customize their wood floor," says Tim Crais, brand manager for Hartco Quality Wood Flooring. "With the different options, each room can be dressed up with a different color or pattern." Recent design trends include mixing different wood species; combining wood with other building materials such as slate, stone, marble, granite, metal and ceramic tile; and incorporating borders and medallions into the wood flooring.
"This year seems to be the time for an unfinished species of wood to be installed and then sanded and refinished," Matotek says. "With these floors you have an incredible range of alternatives to match your preferences exactly. Any color, size, or texture that your heart desires can be achieved with this method."
Unlike other flooring materials that harbor bacteria, dust and dirt, a regular sweep or vacuum will maintain healthy surroundings. "There is a cleanliness factor to hardwood that gets passed up," Weeks says. "There is nowhere for the dirt to go, so it has to get cleaned up." For high-traffic areas that are prone to spills or wear, distressed wood flooring is ideal. "Distressed does not mean casual," Weeks says. "And because it is not a perfect finish, it is easier to maintain the look of that floor."
Hardwood flooring can be carried throughout a home, even on stairways, which opens and enlarges compartmentalized rooms. "You’re getting a sense that there’s more space," Weeks says. However, maintenance can be an issue in certain areas, especially where water is present. "The rule of thumb is that hardwood flooring can go anywhere except for the bathroom and the laundry room," Weeks says.
Remodeling is made easier with thinner flooring products. Besides saving raw material and decreasing price, thinner flooring can be placed in areas where traditional 3/4-in. thick flooring could not be installed. Some floors are as thin as 1/4 in. "Thinner flooring helps people that don’t want to cut the flooring, because the floor fits right under things such as doors," Crais says.
Certain types of flooring can be glued or stapled down, an option that saves time and prevents a mess. "When you have a plywood sub-floor, you can staple the product down and walk on it immediately," Crais says. "You don’t have to wait for the glue to cure, which can take 24 hours or longer."
Warm to the feet, hardwood flooring also warms the heart. "Every tree...is different," Crais says. "Therefore, every wood floor is unique. The best thing is that it never goes out of style, and it is extremely versatile."
Chickasaw: Classic Oak Strip Hardwood Flooring allows versatility in decorating. Each solid wood board has its own grain pattern and is different from every other oak board. A natural insulator and warm underfoot, the flooring has several surfaces that can be revealed with resanding and refinishing. Available in various grades based on the wood’s appearance and natural characteristics such as knots or dark stains that can be exposed by a professional installer. Warranty: Limited one year. Supply: Distributors. Contact: (800) 346-3010, www.chickasawflooring.com.
Hartco: Accent Parquet Inlays highlight any room as borders, medallions or corner accents. Each design is solid wood throughout the thickness of the parquet. Tiles are 6-in. square and come in five patterns: Apple, Dogwood, Leaf, Orchid and Sunburst. Available hardwoods include: Hard Maple, Yellow Heart, Brazilian Cherry, Genuine Mahogany and American Black Walnut. No wax urethane finish provides high durability, high gloss and low maintenance. Warranty: Lifetime on structure, 10 years on finish. Supply: Distributors. Contact: (800) 442-7826, www.hartcoflooring.com.
Bruce: Meridian Stone Custom Crafted Wood Tile offers a one-of-a-kind custom look. The engineered American Maple tiles and pickets are accented with maple diamonds, adding a sophisticated appearance to any room. Tiles are protected by a urethane finish and are available in Toast, Creme and Sedona. Accents are available in Creme, Sedona, Espresso, Charcoal, Parchment, Sherwood, Wood Violet, Sahara and Unfinished. Warranty: Lifetime on structure, lifetime on adhesive bond, 25 years on residential finish. Supply: Distributors. Contact: 800-722-4647, www.brucehardwoodfloors.com.
Boen: Floors install quickly and easily over concrete, conventional subflooring, tile, linoleum and even low-pile, glued-down carpeting. "Floating" design eliminates the need for expensive underlay and requires no nailing or gluing to the subfloor. Hardwoods come from all over the world, including Northern Europe, Africa and Malaysia. Top layer of solid hardwood provides durability, and coniferous slats enhance stability. Acrylic polyurethane coating resists scuffing and staining. Flooring is available in 12 woods and 15 colors. Warranty: 10 years on structure, five years on surface finish. Supply: Distributors. Contact: (540) 638-3700, www.boen.com.
PermaGrain: Scottsville Plank in FineWood offers classic "American look." Engineered five-ply construction provides stability for the flooring. Enhanced urethane sealer-wear surface with aluminum and oxide resists everyday wear. Flooring is available in seven hardwood species, three traditional and nine contemporary colors. Warranty: 25 years. Supply: Distributors. Contact: (610) 353-8801, www.permagrain.com.
|Carlisle Restoration Lumber
Robbins: Premium Collection solid oak and maple flooring features tight, good-looking grain configuration. Nail-down installation improves the structural stability of the flooring as well as the aesthetics. ForEver II no-wax polyurethane finish, UV-cured for durability, minimizes maintenance. While protecting floor, it also lets nuances of tone and grain shine through. Warranty: Lifetime on structure, 25 years on finish. Supply: Distributors. Contact: (800) 733-3309, www.robbinsflooring.com.
Carlisle Restoration Lumber: High quality timbers replicate the timeless look of plank flooring. Available in planks up to 20 in. wide and lengths to 16 ft., these individually crafted floors can be designed to achieve the look of any period home in architectural history, using wood such as Old Growth Wide Pine and Antique Chestnut. Reduction in seams provides long, smooth visual lines. Warranty: Satisfaction guaranteed. Supply: Distributors. Contact: (800) 595-9663, www.wideplankflooring.com.