Hardwood flooring has become wildly popular with homeowners, builders and specifiers for a great number of reasons. Aside from its natural beauty, durability and functionality, perhaps the main driver behind this phenomena is the design creativity hardwood flooring offers to fit a particular aesthetic preference or architectural design.
Add to this the evolution in installation techniques and advanced installer expertise, and you have a flooring product that is unequalled.
Over the years you most likely have sold and installed a great variety of wood flooring designs worthy of much praise and adulation. More importantly, you got to turn a very handsome profit along the way. Sometimes, however, we keep selling the same designs, species, or range of colors over and over again, and don’t afford the customer an opportunity to do something really different by thinking “outside the box.”
Having been in the business for such a long time, I do, as you might imagine, have my favorites.
Pattern floors with a Basket Weave or Herringbone scheme can be laid with a great deal of creativity. They really make a statement on their own and have the added benefit of suggesting different shades of color when viewing the floor from different angles.
If you have ever been to Europe, you most likely toured a number of historical estates, castles, and museums. Invariably they feature pattern floors that have held up exceptionally well, in some cases for hundreds of years. The Louvre Museum in Paris is perhaps the greatest example. Hardwood flooring milled from French Oak abounds throughout its many venues. These natural finished floors are truly an art form all their own. Yet rather than distract from the countless works of art hanging throughout the museum, they provide a calm and nonintrusive setting that allows for the stunning paintings to be the main focus of attention.
There is an essential technique that is advantageous regarding the design and installation of Herringbone and Basket Weave patterns. The components can be manufactured in a good range of lengths to create just the right pattern size to fit the room. Herringbones of 6”, 9”, 12”, 16” and greater do create quite a different look, respectively. For a large, open “great room” or expansive area of any type, the longer the boards, the better the design looks relative to the area. Conversely, a 6” or 9” Herringbone or Basket Weave pattern in a standard size entryway or dining room creates a most dramatic and well-proportioned appearance.
In this country, Red and White Oak are the predominant species used in hardwood flooring because they are the most abundant. We typically create different colors by staining the wood. In Europe and other parts of the world, hardwood flooring colors vary primarily based on the use of a variety of different and exotic wood species. They mostly have a natural finish to highlight the true color of the particular specie.
Using our native species for the same effect, just imagine the beauty you can achieve with pattern floors when you select a natural finished Walnut, American Cherry, Hickory or Maple specie vs. a stained Oak. The grain patterns are so different and unique, and you can create a spectacular look to suit just that unique, special décor.
For rooms that are smaller than normal, here’s an idea to make the room appear larger: Install the material on a diagonal. This technique works especially well with 2-1/4” strip flooring. The installation requires more cutting time and expertise, and you also have to allow for more waste than usual. But the end result is truly worth the added cost and effort.
To make a more formal room look really elegant, I recommend using a custom border. The boarder could be the same stain or specie as the overall floor selection to make the boarder appear very subtle. But to make it really “pop” use a contrasting color. For example, use a boarder made from American Cherry to contrast with a natural or lighter stained oak floor. Conversely, use a natural Maple or White Oak boarder with a Walnut strip or plank floor. Pow! Zam! Wow!
If your customer has the budget to get really creative, nothing holds a candle to custom hardwood inlays or medallions. If the décor or design calls for a major focal point, or if you want to make a strong architectural statement with hardwood, the custom inlay is the only way to go. There are a good number of very talented and creative craftsmen and companies in this field. To learn more about inlays just Google “Hardwood Flooring Inlays” or “Hardwood Flooring Medallions” on the Internet. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Most people in the hardwood flooring industry consider “acrylic impregnated” hardwood flooring mainly for commercial applications. This product is most unique as it has a color monomer injected and cured into the wood cells to allow for the color to permeate into the wood and not just on the surface. This hardwood flooring product provides a unique toughness for heavy foot traffic and has by far the strongest wear-ability for a finish color, thus its popularity as a commercial-grade floor.
But when a residential application calls for the inherent advantages of a hardwood floor plus a very unique or specific custom color or look, this product is a most creative solution. It very much has a place in the residential market when design and creativity is at the forefront of the homeowner’s preferences.
And lastly, the finishing touches: Wood vents and other miscellaneous floor trim items. All transitions, i.e. thresholds, T-moldings, reducers and the like are (or better be) made of matching hardwood. But what about the floor registers and vents? To me, a hardwood floor is not complete without hardwood floor registers and vents. Yes, they do cost a bit more, but metal floor vents or registers just seem to stick out like a sore thumb in a beautifully finished hardwood floor. They are easy to sell, and provide the perfect finishing touch!
So get your creative juices flowing with your customers and make some “out-of-the-box” hardwood flooring recommendations. There is no better way to increase your sales and improve your bottom line.