February 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 18
By Reginald Tucker
A subtle shift in the color palette from cool grays to warmer gray/brown tones. Creative surface texture treatments and applications of different stains and finishes. An influx of wood/SPC “hybrid-type” products entailing a thin-sliced or peeled real wood veneer over a non-wood rigid core structure. These were among the most visible trends that emerged from the hardwood flooring category at TISE 2019.
Case in point were some of the new introductions from American OEM, maker of the Hearthwood brand. The company rolled out nearly a dozen new SKUs spanning the spectrum from ½-thick engineered offerings to a brand new a 3⁄8-inch product that Allie Finkell, vice president, affectionately called the “tariff buster.” This price-sensitive item (with a suggested retail price point of roughly $4.99 per square foot) represents a slight departure from some of the company’s higher-end, step-up products.
“It’s an alternative, entry-level product compared to some of the imported product we’re seeing out there,” Finkell told FCNews. “It’s great for builder work or smaller areas—it’s not 8 feet long like the rest of our products. It’s 5 feet long by 60 inches and comes in four oak looks and four hickory colors.”
American OEM also extended offerings in its high-end Appalachian Spring line, which features a combination of texturing techniques. As Finkell explained: “One-third of the boards in the box are going to have circular band saw marks, some a little heavier, some a little lighter. Another third of the boards are going to have skip-sawn texture—again, some lighter, some darker. Then we have boards that don’t have anything except for nail holes. The idea is to create the look of floors that came out of the old manufacturing mills.”
While gray tones dominated in recent years, Finkell said consumers are gravitating back toward a more natural palette. “We’re seeing the grays lightening up,” she explained. “It’s a little bit warmer, more tan than the cool gray we’ve seen for so long. With the new introductions we wanted to make sure we accommodated for that.”
At the other end of the same booth Emily Finkell, founder of the Emily Morrow Home collection, displayed her own brand of high-end, exquisitely styled hardwood looks. Inspired by a cross section of regions spanning from African deserts to other exotic locales, the expanded offerings aim to address consumer tastes for unique species, color tones and textures that make a statement. “I’m a designer, so I need to strike the right balance between something that’s both beautiful and saleable,” she explained. For example, she cited travel-inspired names such as Great Migration, which was inspired by a wildebeest herd she witnessed on a safari trip to Kenya; the Heritage collection, whose colors hearken back to America’s historical roots; and Lewis & Clark, which conjures images of the prairie and exploration. “None of these colors will never be dated,” she said.
Another company focusing on unique visuals is Provenza. A past Surfaces innovation award winner, the company sought to give its customers more of that unique style for which it is known in both specified commercial and high-end residential circles. While the company has been turning heads of late with its realistic LVP looks, wood is still its forte.
“In our genuine wood products we are featuring European oak with a shrunken face, which gives a very uneven veneer,” said Ron Sadri, principal owner. “It gives you a little bit of movement in the veneer to the point that you have some overwood and cracks, but it looks very natural.”
Provenza also put the spotlight on its herringbone pattern available in its custom line of ¾-inch engineered product. It’s also seeing continued interest in its Lighthouse Cove, which won a Best of Surfaces award in 2017. “It’s still moving fairly well, although it’s mostly going on the walls,” Sadri told FCNews.
Creative wall/flooring applications as well as a bevy of fresh new colors were also on display across the showroom floor at the DuChâteau booth. There, the company unveiled 12 new visuals across three collections: Grande Savoy, Herringbone and Varació.
The Grande Savoy collection is inspired by the expansive floors in European chateaus and castles, while Herringbone offers the visual interest and sophisticated wire-brushed textures. Varació, which comes in random width planks, aims to add sophistication to any space. All feature DuChâteau’s signature hard-wax oil finish, which provides an elegant matte finish and develops individual patinas as the floor ages. “Today’s customer is looking for elegance and individuality in their homes, and our new styles add that special touch,” said Mitch Tagle, CEO and co-founder of DuChâteau. “The pattern and width variations of our new collections create a truly distinctive look.”
Mixing it up
While some companies focused primarily on new colors, others experimented with mixed species and various-sized boards. That was the case at the Mannington booth, which turned heads with products like Triumph as well as a unique species called Bengali Bay. “We took a bit of a risk coming out with some leading-edge colors where we’re blending multiple colors in a carton along with a traditional brown and coffee,” said Dan Natkin, vice president of hardwood and laminate. “But the dealer reaction has been amazing.”
Jason Stafford, general manager, Stafford’s Discount Carpet, Redlands, Calif., was genuinely impressed. “What Mannington was able to do is in one box you get a maple, hickory and oak that are all stained the same color. So you get varying grains, visuals and slightly different colors due to the different species.”
This trend was evident in other spaces, including the Pinnacle/EarthWerks booth. All eyes were on the Calico collection, which features vividly contrasting colors, multiple species, varied textures and alternating widths. “It’s a calculated formula in terms of how it’s packaged in every box so when the installer takes it out of the box they don’t have to worry about it,” said Brenda Cashion, vice president of marketing, “It blends as well with one box as it does out of 60.”
Meanwhile, EarthWerks gets the Costa Brava collection, which features the natural grain and beauty of French white oak. The line boasts slightly beveled edges and ends that accentuate the width and length of individual planks, and incorporates burls, knots and mineral streaks for added character.