According to WoodFloorDoctor.com, using wood for floors dates back as far as 1625. If this is true—and it seems likely that it is—that means wood flooring is one of the oldest product categories in the home building industry. Nevertheless, the category is robust with new (and old) products to satisfy many tastes.
“Hardwood floors are one of the most important design elements in your home or business,” the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) in Chesterfield, Mo., says. Wood, the group continues, adds value and comfort to any décor—no matter what your style preference happens to be.
The scope of wood flooring available today is deep and wide. Manufacturers have developed new durable finishes and stains that provide a variety of looks, more companies are offering reclaimed products in a variety of species, and manufacturers are finding more ways to add a new twist to an old product.
Earlier this year at the Surfaces show, the building community got an introduction to Bolefloor—what The Netherlands–based company by the same name calls the “world’s first” industrial-scale manufactured hardwood flooring with curves that follow a tree’s natural growth. The product is now available in the U.S.
Another new flooring option available to buyers is Virtu from West Nyack, N.Y.–based Virtu Wood Flooring. Unlike most engineered-wood floors, Virtu is a ¾-inch-thick, wide-plank engineered product that’s made up of just three layers. The result, the manufacturer says, is a product offering 67 percent less movement than a solid wide-plank floor.
“Due to its unique ‘True Balanced Construction,’ Virtu develops much smaller gaps during the heating season compared to solid wood flooring and will maintain its dimensional stability through seasonal changes,” the company says.
By now everyone is familiar with bamboo flooring, which is usually lumped into the wood category, but in addition to bamboo, San Francisco–based Smith & Fong offers flooring made from coconut and sugar palm. Deco palm products are “an assemblage of the full range of textures and rich colors inherent to this species of palm,” company founder and president Dan Smith says. The products are formaldehyde-free and are available prefinished in random lengths.
The beauty and benefits of wood remain the same as they have been for many years: The product is durable, environmentally friendly (when harvested responsibly), and offers many design options, the wood flooring association says.
“With advances in the industry over the past few decades, customizing your wood floor is easier and more affordable than ever before,” NWFA states. “You can create a unique look with simple upgrades such as borders, medallions, hand-distressing, painted floors, mixed media, and exotic wood species.”