Posted on

DuChateau to unveil Atelier series at Surfaces

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 12.52.27 PMSan Diego, Calif.—DuChateau Floors will unveil three new product lines within its famed Atelier series at The International Surface Event in Las Vegas at booth 946.

“We have been working hard all year to develop new avenues for the Atelier series and, finally, we have perfected our newest editions,” said Atelier master craftsman Tom Goddijn.

The company will also be exhibiting its Porcelain DeLuxe, Vinyl DeLuxe and hardwood collections as well as wall coverings.

 

Posted on

DuChateau receives Best of Houzz 2015 award

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 12.13.17 PMSan Diego, Calif.—DuChateau Floors has been awarded Best of Houzz for Design for the second consecutive year by Houzz, one of the leading social media platforms for home remodeling and design.

“We’re delighted to recognize DuChateau among our ‘Best of’ professionals as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of industry marketing, Houzz.

“We couldn’t be happier with the win,” said Misael Tagle, co-founder, DuChateau. “It is a real honor, especially from a site we all love to use.”

Posted on

Why sourcing, milling and finish quality matter

May 12/19; Volume 27/Number 27

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.49.24 AMBy the time a hardwood floor is installed, the final product has endured a lengthy journey that includes harvesting, transporting, milling, finishing and selling.

There is risk for error at various points throughout the hardwood production process, which is why responsible sourcing, precise milling and proper finish are crucial factors in ensuring a quality product is delivered.

“What distributors and dealers are looking for when selling a hardwood product is peace of mind,” said Luc Robitaille, vice president of marketing at Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage brand. “No one wants callbacks due to product defects or low quality.”

Harry Bogner, senior vice president of hardwood at Unilin, a Mohawk company, said the importance of sourcing, milling and finishing becomes clear at various stages of the manufacturing process.

“From the manufacturer’s perspective, high quality milling and finishing ensure that a product will fit together correctly and perform,” he said. “As a manufacturer, I always want to provide a high quality product so I have happy customers who will buy from us again and who will go out and tell all their friends, ‘I have a Mohawk hardwood floor and it is great.’ Also, manufacturers obviously don’t want claims coming in, and quality milling and finishing help avoid that.

“For the consumer, what a hardwood floor really comes down to first and foremost is color,” Bogner continued. “The most important thing to a customer is that the color she ordered is the color she received. After that, it is about durability; is the floor going to hold up? That is where the milling piece comes in.”

Following is a closer look at the important steps that go into a finished hardwood flooring product.

Sourcing

Several flooring companies have joined the National Wood Flooring Association’s (NWFA) Responsible Procurement Program (RPP), a joint initiative between leading environmental groups and industry manufacturers committed to producing and promoting wood floors that come only from environmentally and socially responsible sources.

“Everything we have in our line, whether we manufacture it or it is sourced elsewhere, has to come by verified sources,” said Dan Natkin, director of hardwood and laminate for Mannington, which is a member of the NWFA RPP. “You have to be thorough in this process. The thing is, we have to put our name on these products. We are not some fly-by-night brand.”

Mannington’s mantra, “Make first, source later,” reflects how the company does everything it can to make products in its own facilities. When it has to go outside, it puts its sources through a rigorous stress test—from the financial stability of the company to supply chain and third-party verification.

Other companies, whether affiliated with NWFA RPP or not, are taking similarly proactive approaches. Max Windsor Floors, for example, looks for quality, reliability and responsibility when sourcing hardwood products, according to Peter Spirer, CEO. “Factories in China are priced pretty much alike, so cost isn’t the issue in how we judge suppliers,” he explained. “We don’t depend on the factories for creating new product lines. We prefer to submit the specs and colors for matching. What we need is on-time shipment and maintaining original quality standards. Additionally, the factory management must accept responsibility for manufacturing defects, should they arise.”

To ensure the best quality, Max Windsor uses independent inspectors to check for product color match and construction as the production materials are being packed. Spirer’s management team visits suppliers at least once a quarter to review all issues and plan for new products.

“We are building constructive relationships with our suppliers which extend far beyond the norm,” Spirer said. “The lifeline and ultimate success of an importer is reliant on its factory suppliers. Period. It almost doesn’t matter whether the factory is owned by the importer or is supplying on an OEM basis. What matters most is the continuing dialogue with factory management. Call it brainwashing, training or anything else. It’s the continuity of message that will win the day.”

Ron Oliver, vice president of sales and marketing for Hallmark Flooring, said raw material sourcing has been a significant problem for manufacturers. Hallmark is facing back orders for the first time in five years, primarily for walnut and hickory. However, according to Oliver, the company is better positioned than others to deal with the issue.

“Unlike many others that source in China, we provide the raw material and our own quality control people work in the factories, keeping an eye on the production,” he explained.

“For us, the strength is being able to buy our own logs and lumber, which we have been able to do for the last number of years. To the saw mills, we are not some invisible player; we are actually someone who isScreen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.50.04 AM buying directly from them.”

Oliver said there is roughly half the capacity in the market as there was five years ago. The reason? The extended downturn rid the industry of many loggers, saw mills and even transportation companies. “While the economy is improving, the diminished infrastructure is putting a squeeze on raw materials,” he said. “You look at ¾-inch solid. Some of the majors have had four, five and even six price increases. From a raw materials standpoint that constitutes a challenge for the industry.”

Milling

Milling is a key step in ensuring a precise fit and easy installation. On the technical side, expertly milled boards should fit together perfectly, with no noticeable variations in thickness. “Milling is extremely important in maintaining consistency and to ensure there are no over-wood issues,” said Drew Hash, vice president of hard surface product marketing, Shaw Industries. “The milling process also gives our floors the structural integrity needed to create a quality hardwood product.”

Bogner added that precision milling is especially critical to ensure planks of click-wood products—such as those from Mohawk, Q-Wood and Columbia—fit tightly together for a strong, lasting connection.

While hardwood manufacturers each utilize different methods for milling, most use digital calipers, a precision instrument that accurately measures internal and external distances.

Mannington uses a tool called Smartscope, which measures profile conformance. Originally designed for high-precision steel work, Smartscope has been adapted for use in flooring. “This system is accurate to the thousandth of an inch and allows us to be extremely consistent from run to run,” Natkin said.

Using a more traditional method, HomerWood employs Amish craftsmen as part of its millwork process. “Quality is everything here,” said Kathy Barker, operations manager at HomerWood. “The differentiator is the hands-on approach, the number of people we have involved in the process, and the speed … which is slow.”

From beginning to end, a team of inspectors (as many as 74) are involved in the millwork. They each make mental notes and physical decisions during the process. “All of our employees are cross trained,” Barker said. “They have a full understanding of the inspection process, and they make decisions every step of the way that affect the final product. From the time it comes in—even when it is unloaded—we have testing and criteria that have to be met. There are checkpoints at each step of the process.”

To assure color consistency, Mohawk vigilantly monitors the color processing during each production run. Trained eyes continuously match to a color master board to ensure that the resulting color is within variance. “Use of improved color booths that simulate multiple light environments also helps ensure that customers can rely on our hardwood to be the most consistent products on the market when it comes to color,” Bogner noted.

Also concerned with meticulous production, once Armstrong’s trees are harvested, the company puts the product through a process that ensures the board has the right moisture content and proper grading. The company’s manufacturing method includes dozens of inspection points, from the moment the wood touches the line until it goes into a box.

“We have 70-plus pairs of eyes look closely to make sure [the floor] meets spec,” said Milton Goodwin, vice president of hardwood products. “We also spend a lot of time on the front end; it starts with the ability to buy quality lumber. The tree we use [in the Appalachian region] grows slowly and has a beautiful look to it; it’s in a part of the world that has no chance of being overharvested.”

Finish

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.51.01 AMFinishing hardwood is a crucial point in the milling process, often the determining factor in the purchase decision, as well, executives said. Whether it is to reduce scratches or add beauty, the R&D behind finishes continues to evolve with many companies marketing their own proprietary products.

The European tradition of using oils and wax to create natural wood flooring surfaces is one trend illustrated by the U.S. market. Gary Keeble, product and marketing manager at USFloors, said that at one time USFloors and DuChateau Floors were the only U.S. companies with oil-based finishes. “That was [around] 2007 and 2008; we were it,” he said. “Now I can count at least 10 companies with oil-based finishes.”

Keeble explained that an oil finish provides a “uniquely distinct” look when compared to an aluminum oxide finish. “Oil penetrates into the wood, not on top. The more you oil it, the more it will develop a richer look.”

He added that a disadvantage with aluminum oxide is that it develops micro scratches. “Over time it refracts the light and makes it look dull. Oil doesn’t leave micro scratches; that is one unique benefit it offers.” A floor with an oil-based finish is also usually sold at a higher price, providing dealers with greater margin opportunity.

Among the companies touting new oil-based finishes is DuChateau, which markets a proprietary Hard-Wax Oil finish, described as a non-pollutant, non-toxic, ultra-low VOC product with no biocides or preservatives. According to the company, the special features of the finish allow the oils to penetrate deeply into the wood pores to enhance the look while the wax remains on the surface to maintain a natural matte finish and create a protective layer.

Mirage uses a product called Nanolinx for its prefinished wood flooring. Robitaille said the finish is made of the smallest particles possible. “Nine times smaller than a hair, the crosslinked particles make the finish more flexible to preserve the floor’s original appearance and prevent cracking,” he explained. “Each particle molds perfectly to the shape of the hardwood floor and this creates the clearest finish in the industry. Therefore, it avoids a plastic-look effect that is seen too often with competing products.”

Posted on

Wood: State of the Industry

Despite obstacles, executives expect category to continue steady growth

Volume 27/Number 24; March 31/April 7, 2014

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.57.28 AMThe hardwood flooring segment continues to climb out of the years-long recession, buoyed by a healthier economy and improving housing fundamentals. As leading executives convene in Nashville April 16-18 for the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Expo, there is the general sense that market conditions will continue to favor growth.

“All indications are that the category is continuing to gain momentum,” said Michael Martin, president and CEO of the NWFA. “We hear from our manufacturer members that production is increasing, we hear from our distributor members that sales are up, and we hear from our contractor members that they are booked several weeks, or even months, out. This is a significant shift from the previous five years or so when all flooring categories were down.” Continue reading Wood: State of the Industry

Posted on

Wood: Less focus on price means more options, innovation

Feb. 17/24 2014, Volume 27/number 21

By Ken Ryan

(Second of two parts)

More than ever, hardwood floors are making a distinctive statement. Featuring wider widths, longer lengths, tremendous graining and color variations, today’s hardwood floors are very much a fashion product.

Numerous hardwood suppliers exhibited their latest, trendy products at Surfaces 2014, looking to seize this market opportunity with eager-to-buy consumers.

Ark Floors

Today’s consumers are savvier than those of years past, and more willing to take risks with their purchases, according to Laurie Sanfilippo, marketing manager at Ark Floors. Therefore, suppliers like Ark are striving to be more “adventurous” with products that excite consumers and allow dealers to make money. At Surfaces, Ark exhibited five new products including Padauk chestnut, an engineered product in the company’s Artistic Collection of distressed, handscraped, wider-width planks that range from 4 3⁄4 to 6 1⁄2 inches wide. Booth goers were shown classic American looks as well as exotic species in a mix of solid and engineered constructions. The company also touted its new French Collection that features a sculpted, distressed surface texture and wider width planks.

Sanfilippo said today’s younger consumers are drawn to a product’s design and may not be as concerned with its source or how much it costs, as long as they are happy with it. “There are people who are going to want to buy U.S., and that is not going to be our market. Our market is people who will want to buy something beautiful—meaning above entry-level exotics.”

Bamboo Hardwoods

Bamboo Hardwoods’ signature product at the show was a strand-woven, handscraped bamboo from the Hybrid line, which is created by combining strands of bamboo into an organic pattern and then compressing them under significant pressure. The result is an extremely dense and hard floor with superior resistance to denting.

David Keegan, COO, said dealers can make 30% to 35% profit on Hybrid. “This is no commodity bamboo product. Finally people are not looking at price point, they are looking at aesthetics. Consumers love the look of this bamboo and it is not out of their budgets. Plus, retailers can make good money on it.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.31.55 PMBoen Hardwood Flooring

Wider widths and longer planks are all the rage in hardwood these days, and few companies go wider or longer than Boen Hardwood Flooring. Its new engineered line, with boards 12 to 15 inches wide and 86 inches long, come with a floating Välinge click system. “The hardest part is properly displaying these SKUs because some retailers don’t have room for them in their showrooms,” said Dennis Hrusa, managing director at Boen.

CFS Flooring

Taking a different approach than it has at past Surfaces, CFS decided to install new products in its show space. “By doing so, it makes the room look so much bigger,” said Phillip Key, vice president of sales and marketing of CFS.

One product that stood out was a 9⁄16-inch handscraped engineered Asian walnut (acacia) with distinctive graining and chisel techniques. Hand-rubbed stains provide depth to the grain, and because each plank is individually scraped by hand there is a distinction between them, meaning no two are alike.

In addition to this unique visual, CFS is also trying to win over dealers with a one-price story for its new lineup. “I’m a sales guy and I like it easy,” Key said. “With one price point, it’s an easy story for dealers to tell.”

Coswick

Coswick, which specializes in traditional hardwood flooring and European-style floors, made its debut at Surfaces in hopes of meeting with distributors, part one in a plan to establish a network. The company showed distributors a brushed oak and country oak collection, among others.

The Belarus-based company’s European-style products are available in a two-layer tongue and groove construction.

“We’re strong in Eastern Europe and No. 1 in the Persian Gulf,” said Vladimir Ianovski, president. Coswick also has a market presence in Switzerland, France and Germany. “It’s time to grow in the U.S.,” he said. “We see good signs here.”

Coswick recently earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certification. The scope of certification includes the entire range of the company’s products—solid and engineered, wood wall panels and all moldings.

DuChateau Floors

The manufacturer of wide-plank hardwood flooring (standard sizes are 9½ inches wide by 8 feet long and 5⁄8 inch thick) is in the earlyScreen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.35.00 PM stages of extending its successful Atelier Series of luxury flooring, which was developed exclusively by Tom Goddijin, the company’s master craftsman. Goddijin, who experiments with traditional processing methods to achieve unique flooring styles, is moving his practice from Holland to San Diego, which will allow DuChateau to bring its products to the U.S. market much quicker—an average of four to six weeks, according to Scott Petersen, director of operations.

DuChateau also disclosed it has partnered with home furnishings supplier Somerset Bay Home to launch a European oak flooring line to match 10 signature Somerset Bay Home colors.

Home Legend

Home Legend downsized its booth from 5,400 square feet to a 1,600-square-foot space divided into separate 800-square-foot areas. The company’s introductions included a new acacia line offered in 5¼ inch widths.

The new offerings are also available in birch and Brazilian cherry and come in three constructions: HDF click-lock, engineered tongue and groove, and solid tongue and groove. “You can classify it as a good, better, best [program],” said Jamann Stepp, vice president of sales.

Horizon

Many hardwood flooring companies talk about their sustainable practices, but Horizon took the movement one step further by constructing its booth—for which the company won a Best of Surfaces award (see story on page 1)—out of reclaimed timbers and railroad trestles from an abandoned Ohio rail yard.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.35.56 PM“It’s all about first impressions and the ‘wow’ factor,” said Alex Shaoulpour, president of Horizon, speaking about both the booth and its new products.

Horizon’s product launches were Villa Tuscana Cambridge Estate, Ferno and Saddle Creek. “The overwhelming positive response from our distributors confirm these styles are the newest trends for 2014 and a perfect fit for their markets, which inspires us to develop innovative floors every day.”

Horizon’s products feature an open grain finish that allows floors to live and breathe in a healthy home environment. The natural oils penetrate through the wood pores to enhance the look and create a durable, long-lasting floor.

“We develop products [our customers] can make money on,” Shaoulpour concluded. “For us, our customers’ success is our success.”

Korus Wood Flooring

Korus, which announced at Surfaces its entry into the residential market, is known for its acrylic impregnated hardwood flooring. This specific type of product is made from natural wood that is infused with acrylic resin to create a stronger, tougher floor.

Korus’ engineered construction uses five plies of marine-grade Baltic birch, glued with marine-grade adhesive, and topped with a 1⁄10 inch-thick acrylic impregnated real wood wearlayer.

The company is launching 54 SKUs, including a reclaimed oak hardwood it believes will appeal to dealers looking for differentiation. “We have a lot of colors and wood species working together,” said Jason Brubaker, director of sales and marketing.

Korus reported that its representatives met with a number of prospective customers at Surfaces. As an incentive, the company gave away 50 retail displays as part of its residential kickoff, which Brubaker said was a successful promotion.

Trillium

Bill Friend, a vice president and co-owner of Strategis International, which oversees the Trillium brand, said the company tried to do “too many things” with wood in the past. So it is now focusing on what it does best: strand-woven bamboo. “We want to be the bamboo guys in the U.S.,” he said.

At Surfaces, Trillium showcased Manhattan Grey, a wire-brushed bamboo that Friend said could generate significant margin for retailers looking for a differentiated offering. “Flooring used to be a boring product,” he said. “Twenty years ago, you had two [wood] choices: maple and oak. Today you have so many options it’s become a fashion product. I think bamboo could very easily be 10% of wood, and there’s margin dollars there for dealers.”

WE Cork

WE Cork displayed its Serenity Collection of cork flooring with a high definition, three-pass, digital print technology that reproduces the essence of wood or tile on a cork substrate. The floor is finished with the company’s patented Hot Coating, giving it an oil-like, satin luster.

The digital print technology allows for customized visuals such as blue jeans or cobblestone, both of which were installed at the booth. “Dealers were overwhelmingly positive; they love the unlimited commercial applications,” said Ann Wicander, president of WE Cork.

 

 

Posted on

DuChateau selected as ‘Interior Design’ Best of Year finalist

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 10.12.10 AM
DuChateau’s Vintage Remains collection honors the look and feel of reclaimed timbers found in antique structures.

San Diego—The Vintage Remains hardwood flooring collection from DuChateau Floors has been selected as a Best of Year finalist by Interior Design magazine in the hard surfaces category. Winners and honorees will be announced at an awards ceremony in New York on Dec. 5. Continue reading DuChateau selected as ‘Interior Design’ Best of Year finalist

Posted on

Engineering 'sales' away from solid

Textured products, larger planks, locking systems help drive segment

Sept. 16/23 2013; Volume 27/number 11

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 12.31.57 PM
Launched in 2013, Mohawk’s Atherton Collection features a scraped and wire-brushed finish designed to give every plank a distinctive, unique look.

The continued enhancement of the engineered hardwood flooring segment continues to take market share away from solid, which comes as no surprise to executives such as Kevin Thompson of Shaw Industries. Thompson points to influential factors such as improved finish performance; the popularity of wider, longer planks, and the inclusion of locking systems for driving the upward shift. Continue reading Engineering 'sales' away from solid

Posted on

Master craftsman behind DuChateau to relocate to US

San Diego – Master craftsman behind DuChateau Floors’ hardwood flooring styles, Anthonius Goddijn, will relocate from Holland to the United States to train and spearhead the company’s manufacturing facility at its new international headquarters located ihere. With plans to open its doors by mid-summer 2013, the new facility will host the company’s grand showroom for its luxury hardwood flooring, its administrative offices, and a manufacturing and design workshop where Goddijn will spearhead the design and production of new flooring styles. Continue reading Master craftsman behind DuChateau to relocate to US

Posted on

Manufacturers debut offerings for spring season

By Jenna Lippin

Volume 26/Number 22; March 18/25, 2013

While we are only a few months into this year, there already is a renewed sense of optimism. Surfaces has quickly come and gone, but this does not mean opportunities are over for manufacturers to showcase new goods. Some are revamping existing lines while others are unveiling brand new designs. Continue reading Manufacturers debut offerings for spring season

Posted on

DuChateau Floors in Interiors & Sources Readers Choice Awards

SAN DIEGO—The Terra Collection from DuChateau Floors has been selected in the third annual Interiors & Sources Readers Choice Awards: Best Products of 2011. Originally developed in Holland, DuChateau Floors feature antique reproduction hard wax oil floors. Combining old world craftsmanship with modern design, DuChateau Floors are suitable for interior commercial, retail and residential flooring and wall panel applications. Continue reading DuChateau Floors in Interiors & Sources Readers Choice Awards