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NWFA clarifies what ‘real wood’ flooring means

St. Louis—The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) has released a formal definition of wood flooring to help industry professionals as well as consumers identify the difference between real wood and “wood-look” flooring products.

“The level of growth in the sales and promotion of wood look-alike products—whether they be laminate, tile, plastic composite, or vinyl plank flooring—has created a need in the marketplace to tell the unique story of wood,” said Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO. “And that story has to start with a definition of what is and, more importantly, what is not wood flooring.”

Given theconfusion in the consumer market about what is truly wood flooring, NWFA felt it was important to provide a meaningful definition of wood as a flooring material to address some of that confusion. “Our goal is to provide clear guidance so consumers understand what they’re choosing when making a floor-purchasing decision,” Martin added.

As part of the NWFA’s 2018 strategic planning process, the NWFA board of directors established a task force that includes representatives from across the wood flooring supply chain. This group created the formal definition for wood flooring as follows: “Wood is the hard, fibrous material that forms from the main substance of the trunk or branches and beneath the bark of a tree. A wood floor is any flooring product that contains real wood as the top-most, wearable surface of the floor.”

Wood flooring may be broken into three categories:

1. Solid wood flooring is a solid piece of wood from top to bottom.
2. Engineered wood flooring is real wood from top to bottom. It is normally made using multiple wood veneers or slats of wood glued together at opposing directions.
3. Composite engineered wood flooring contains real wood on the wearable surface only. The backing and core material may be made up of any type of composite material.

“Many flooring options today emulate the look of wood flooring, causing consumers a great deal of uncertainty about what they are actually purchasing,” said Brenda Cashion, a member of NWFA’s board of director’s task force and hardwood product developer and market Strategist at Swiff-Train Co. “As the authority for the wood flooring industry, the NWFA felt it was necessary to establish a clear definition of what comprises a true hardwood floor and to deliver that message directly to consumers.”

Now that the definition of wood flooring is approved, the work of promoting the definition—and the wood flooring that falls under the definition—will begin. The NWFA and its members will launch a formal consumer awareness campaign in 2019.