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Monday, May 20, 2013

Wood Floors--What's Hot, What's Not

What's Hot in Wood

Wood flooring is truly timeless. Many of us grew up in homes with hardwood floors, and these floors are still in fashion today. In fact, the most popular mid-century stain colors are also some of todays best selling colors: natural (that darkened and yellowed with time), walnut, and golden oak. Over the years the most common widths in wood have been narrow, between 2" and 3" wide. So if you have 2 ¼" wide medium-colored oak wood floors, don't worry, you are still in style, and always will be.

But just like with computers and cell phones, there is always something newer and greater on the horizon. Trends to watch for include:
~hand scraped hardwoods. Look for softer scrapes in species like hickory, maple, and birch. Hand scraping mimics an old floor that has been gently worn by time and footsteps. These floors have a contoured surface that looks comfortably "lived in". Individual planks bear the subtle grooves, scallops and scrapes - even beveled edges - of an artisan's chisel.
~stains that are more brown and less red. Today's popular stain colors include saddle, mocha, coffee, provincial, special walnut, English chestnut, and early American.
~Barnwood and reclaimed visuals. This is simply old, antique wood that has been salvaged from buildings such as aging barns, factories, warehouses - all types of old buildings that are being deconstructed. Reclaimed antique wood has a beautiful and unique patina that only time can give it. (These floors are also among the more expensive flooring options.)
~gray stains; white washed wood
~wire brushed, aged looks. This technique consists of running a wire brush over wood flooring, creating a rough, hard surface. The wire brush gets rid of the soft wood on the surface, making the floor more durable, less slippery, and easier to maintain. Some have polyurethane finishes, others are oil rubbed.Wire brushed floors can withstand wear and tear, making them a great option for households with kids or pets. These floors are meant to have a rough, earthy feel.
~wider planks and matte (no shine) finishes-this is considered the European look
~white oak and American/domestic exotics like hickory, walnut, birch, and cherry
~acacia---a tree that grows in Africa and Australia. Acacia is filled with knots,
graining, swirls and age circles, is available in various tones of brown, and lends itself well to hand-scraping
~dual stain/color washing---layers of different stains that replicate a finish found in many of today's higher end cabinetry and furniture
~French bleed----a blackened bevel. This dark color usually draws a contrast between the color of the planks and the bevel serving to outline each board. Essentially, a French bleed is intended to give the
look of a very old wood floor that has collected dust and dirt between the boards that no amount of sweeping will remove.
~character grade woods---wood with lots of knots, mineral streaks, worm holes and other natural and rustic characteristics
~strand woven bamboo
~longer length boards

Out, or On The Way Out
One of my least favorite things to write about is what is "out" in flooring, because it can make you feel bad if you have something in your home that is no longer popular. In fact, it seems that I usually have at least one of the items from the "out" list in my home and I love it! So let it be said that it is your house and if you love it,
it's always in style. Your home is a reflection of you and your taste. But.....if you are currently shopping for new wood floors, or will be refinishing your existing wood and changing the color, keep these trends in mind:
~parquet---makes your home feel dated
~traditional bamboo (vertical or horizontal)
~exotic woods like Brazilian cherry, Santos mahogany, merbau, tigerwood
~red stain colors like cherry and cinnamon, natural red oak
~dark stains like black, espresso, ebony
~lots of short boards----they just don't feel in correct proportion in large rooms and today's open floor plans

Made In The USA and Proud Of It!
One of the nicest things about our showroom is that the majority of our products are made in the USA. This was an interesting survey we came across:

The Boston Consulting Group reported that more than 60% of Chinese consumers would pay more for U.S. made products and nearly 50% of Chinese consumers prefer a U.S.-made product to a China-made product of similar price and quality.

Boston Consulting also said its survey showed that both U.S. and Chinese consumers overwhelmingly believe that American products are higher quality, with 85% of U.S. consumers and 82% of Chinese consumers saying they "agree" or "strongly agree" that they feel better about Made in USA quality.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What Wood You Like To Know About Wood?

Hardwood floors are a very popular flooring choice and have been throughout the decades, except for the 1960's and 1970's when it was trendy to cover your wood floors up with carpet. (It is worth noting that we have to specify the 1960's and 70's, because wood floors were also the flooring of choice in the 1860's and 70's!)

Wood floors are also a smart purchase. Robert Wright, national president of the American Society of Interior Designers advises "When it comes to your money, I always would advocate wood because it's a good return on your investment and it's a product that everyone responds to. A nice hardwood floor -- that's pretty much always been a sign of quality. It invokes a good feeling in people."

According to a 2011 national survey conducted by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), 99 percent of real estate agents say that houses with hardwood floors are easier to sell. Of those surveyed, 90 percent believe homes with hardwood floors sell for more money and 82 percent say they sell faster.

Wood Flooring 101

If you are shopping for new wood floors, one of the first things to understand is the difference between site-finished and prefinished hardwood floors. Site-finished hardwoods are installed raw (unfinished) and then sanded, stained, and coated with multiple coats of polyurethane finish in your home. You are able to select the stain color and the gloss level of the floor. Prefinished hardwood floors are fully manufactured and finished in the factory. A prefinished floor offers a quicker and more convenient installation, but you have fewer choices in stain color, etc. Both types of wood flooring (site-finished and prefinished) are available in solid and engineered wood.

Many clients ask us if prefinished floors are real hardwood floors or are engineered floors real hardwood floors. Yes, both are composed of 100% hardwood. Most engineered wood floors can be sanded at least once, except veneers. All ¾" solid prefinished wood floors can be sanded numerous times.

Now you may be wondering what is solid wood and what is engineered wood? Solid wood is exactly as it sounds: a solid piece of wood. Solid wood is usually ¾" thick. Engineered wood is thinner and is made in plies (layers) with the actual species of wood on the top layer. The bottom layers utilize other species of wood for stability. Engineered wood was developed for glue down installation, but some can be nailed down or floated. Engineered floors can be ¼", 3/8" (most common), ½", or even 9/16" thick. If the area being installed has a plywood subfloor, either type may be used. If your substrate is a cement slab, you will almost certainly choose engineered wood. Solid wood floors can only be installed on cement if special (and expensive) installation techniques and adhesives are used.  

Why Is The Price Of Wood Flooring Going Up?

The major hardwood floor manufacturers have announced their third price increase of 2013 (and the year is not even half over yet!) Why? It is a simple supply and demand issue. Demand is increasing as new home builders are building again and remodeling activity is on the increase. When the demand is increasing more quickly than the supply, prices go up.

And this is not going to be an easily remedied situation. There are fewer logging operations now than five years ago, and the lumber mills have decreased from more than 700 to less than 200 over the same time period. We do not expect wood prices to go down, as we are being told by our vendors that "there is no end in sight" to the price increases, and to expect back orders and delays in getting material.
And it is not just hardwood flooring that is going up. We check the plywood prices at Home Depot weekly. Plywood has gone up over 21% in the past three months. Wow

If you are planning on investing in new wood flooring for your home, please do not keep putting it off. Now is truly the time to buy to get your best deal.   

We Wood Be Wrong
if we did not wish all the mothers reading this a very happy Mother's Day! In the words of George Washington:

"My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her."

Thank you, Mothers! We appreciate you!

Final Days
The Mohawk Love Your Floor Sale with 31 Month Interest FREE Financing ends this Monday, May 13. We have access to this super-long-term financing only in the fall and spring, so if you miss out on this deal, we will not be able to offer multi-year financing again until October. Great sale prices, plus great financing-----you will definitely love your new floor if you buy during Mohawk's Love Your Floor sale!