Cork and Bamboo Expand; Combine for New Floors
August 20, 2009
With more consumers seeking out green flooring options, cork and bamboo products are finding new areas for potential sales. Additionally, manufacturers are creating hybrid products such as composites of cork and bamboo, and even cork and linoleum. These products are taking cork and bamboo to a whole new level of design, floor makers say.
“In cork, I absolutely see manufacturers incorporating other materials outside of the cork world into their products,” said Cheryl Matthews, manager of Nova Distinctive Floors. She noted her company has developed new product samples combining cork and linoleum that are now ready for test marketing. She said the product is even greener than traditional cork or linoleum because it combines the best aspects of both. “I absolutely see floors becoming more green, going forward,” she said.
Gary Keeble Jr., marketing manager of USFloors, said his company’s cork and bamboo Corboo product, enhanced by a range of exotic stains, offers a floor “that resembles neither wood, bamboo or cork” but embodies all of them. “We are ecstatic with successfully combining or cork and bamboo and giving the end-user a sustainable product from two rapidly renewable products,” he said.
His company is also looking at creating a new generation of LVT paired with cork in a floating format to combine the softness and warmth of cork with the durability and performance of luxury vinyl flooring.
With an eye toward expanding in the commercial arena, USFloors also recently launched the USF Contract Division. “With the implementation of green standards for government buildings and the growing number of LEED projects around the country, we feel very optimistic for the future,” Keeble explained.
Some companies are even looking outside of traditional green flooring. While Green Choice Flooring International offers a range of strand woven bamboo, the company has also recently released StrandWoven Palmwood, a collection derived from coconut trees.
According to Rebecca Veltkamp, Green Choice Flooring marketing and design, the StrandWoven collection is made from old coconut trees that are shredded up and would normally be waste. For the floor, the waste is reclaimed and compressed into a “very hard and stable composite hardwood floor,” Veltkamp noted.
“With the dwindling of natural resources, it is no surprise that reclaimed, renewable materials have a bright future in the building industry,” she added.
Hung Chen, owner and ceo of Allwood Import, said strand-woven bamboo, made using a similar technique to other strand-woven flooring products, is becoming more and more popular among consumers. But that has also led to companies quickly realizing the limitations of the product, she added.
“As strand-woven bamboo has gotten more popular, people are realizing you can’t nail down or float the floor because it’s so hard,” she explained. “So what we are doing is creating an engineered strand product with a multilayer plywood backing, so it can be nailed down or floated with no problems.”
Additionally, she noted bamboo flooring is becoming more consumer-friendly in another way: It is shedding old technologies for newer, healthier options. Bamboo flooring products that are FSC-certified and formaldehyde-free are becoming more common.
According to Ann Wicander, president of WE Cork, with all of the new design and technology options available, it is more important than ever to train the retail salesperson to “feel comfortable and confident in closing the sale with a customer that comes in asking for cork flooring or a green floor.”
Along with creating a print brochure for salespeople called Comfortable with Cork, “we are spending time on the road educating,” she said.
Randy Gillespie, an owner at Expanko Cork, said he sees green flooring options continuing to proliferate. “Innovations in patterns and color will continue to be introduced to the architect and designer, where durability and the ability to refinish the floor is a requirement,” Gillespie said. Additionally, he noted larger manufacturers will continue to set the tone for “light commercial and residential markets where ease of installation is a requirement.”