Wood Flooring

5 Key Ways to add Value to your Home

Goodrich Haze Oak flooring from Woodpecker Flooring. Wood flooring can help add value to your home

Image © Woodpecker Flooring

Getting on the property ladder is a real challenge these days. The economic situation in the UK has made it particularly difficult for first-time buyers to save enough money required for a deposit. Even those lucky enough to be on the rungs now find themselves in a situation where economic uncertainty is making it increasingly difficult for them to sell their homes and to find a suitable property should they be looking to move up the ladder. This has led to many homeowners now considering improving their existing property, rather than buying a new one. Read More…

Wood-effect ceramic tiles

Ironwood wood effect ceramic floor tiles by Fondovalle

There was a time when we were forced to choose between wood flooring or ceramic tiles – a difficult choice given the advantages and benefits offered by both.

However, there have been a number of advances in the tile industry over recent years that have ushered in new choices that allow us to combine those benefits in a single product.

Fondovalle's Ironwood ceramic floor tiles mimic natural wood

Tile manufacturer Ceramica Fondovalle has embraced these advancements in their Ironwood tiles, which combine the natural warm look of wood with the durability of ceramic tile.

W-Age wood-effect ceramic floor tiles by Provenza

W-Age wood-effect ceramic floor tiles by Provenza (Image via Trendir)

A company doing the same thing but with a slightly different approach is Provenza, an Italian tile manufacturer. The  W-Age collection features the wood grain in cross-section as beautiful concentric circles. This definitely adds more interest and a certain sense of authenticity in my opinion.

Sustainable flooring

Dinesen's flooring planks are renowned for their length and width

For the January issue of Designer magazine I wrote an article about how the tough economic climate has prompted consumers and specifiers to opt for more long-lasting, better quality flooring products that have a reduced impact on the environment.

Flooring manufacturers are stepping up to meet the sustainability challenge and we are now seeing a vast array of eco-friendly flooring products on the market. Victoria Redshaw, founder and lead trend forecaster at Scarlet Opus, believes that the ‘trend pendulum’ has swung away from cheap and cheerful back towards quality and longevity.

“Post-recession, there is a strong focus on not wanting to be wasteful. Not wanting to waste time, resources, materials or money. Consumers will increasingly expect products to be long-lasting and kind…and that includes flooring,” she says.

“Flooring must now be designed with the heart as much as the head, by designers and manufacturers with a conscience who bow to environmental concerns, not just commercial concerns,” says Redshaw.

Whilst hard wood has always been a popular choice, many of the more exotic hardwoods are under threat from illegal and unsustainable logging practices. But luckily many manufacturers and retailers are now committed to sourcing their products only from certifiably sustainable sources.

Responsible sourcing
The forests from which Dinesen, a leading Danish manufacturer of plank floors, sources its wood are managed by the principles of “Dauerwald,” which means promising sustainably productive, profitable, environmentally stable, biologically diverse, and socially responsive forests, patterned after nature.

Kährs only uses high-grade hardwood for its top layer, whilst fast growing core materials are used below the joint.

Kährs of Sweden has a similar approach to eco-standards. Most timber is sourced locally with over 88 per cent of raw material sourced within a 124-mile radius of the factory in Nybro, Sweden. This not only reduces transportation costs but also allows Kährs to utilise waste wood; timber that cannot be used in floor production is converted into bio-fuel, which provides heat for the plant and the homes of 45,000 local residents.

Kebony, a Norway based producer, has developed an alternative to the unsustainable use of tropical timber for flooring. Through an innovative process known as ‘Kebonization’, the company is able to permanently change sustainable softwoods into hardwoods by impregnating them with a liquid derived from agricultural crop waste.

“This technology provides a global eco-solution to the major environmental challenge of rain forest deforestation,” says Christian Jebsen, CEO of Kebony.

Alternative woods
However, when it comes to the use of hardwood for flooring, some consumers and specifiers are seeking completely different alternatives to the traditional rainforest timber.

The Bamboo Flooring Company provides bamboo flooring as an alternative to traditional hard woods

Chris Elliot, MD of the Bamboo Flooring Company, believes that bamboo has many advantages over the more traditional hardwoods. “Bamboo is a cheaper raw material so the floors are around a third cheaper. They are as hard as oak and some, for example strand woven bamboo, are harder than any wood.”

Being a grass, as opposed to timber, gives bamboo the edge as not only a building product, but also as a sustainable resource: wood takes approximately 15-20 years to reach maturity, whereas the non-harmful harvesting of bamboo takes a mere 3 to 5 years.

Natural rubber
Whilst wood is always a popular flooring option, the question of sustainability has seen many other materials gaining in popularity, such as natural rubber. Rubber flooring manufacturer Dalsouple made the decision to improve the environmental profile of its products by going back to nature with the introduction of DalNaturel, a product that boasts over 90 per cent natural ingredients.

Dalsouple's natural rubber flooring is made from 90% natural ingredients

Natural rubber is a wholly renewable raw material. It is easy to recycle many times over, is long-lasting and is low in toxicity. The benefits it offers as flooring are myriad including the fact that it is tough, anti-slip and burn resistant, it feels soft and warm underfoot and has excellent noise absorption properties, is dust free, hygienic and easy to maintain.

Recycled content
The use of recycled content in manufacturing has also gained ground in recent years not only due to the environmental benefits, but also because, in most cases, it makes sound business sense.

Some ceramic tile manufacturers are also incorporating recycled content into the production process. Johnson Tiles of Stoke-on-Trent in the UK recycle 20,000 tonnes of ceramic waste from their own production processes and those of 14 other local ceramic manufacturers each year.

The ceramic waste, which includes plates, cups and saucers, is ground to a suitable size and added to standard ceramic materials to create the tile body. The recycled materials comprise on average 25 per cent of the raw material but can be as high as 36 per cent. Reusing this much ceramic waste annually saves approximately 24,000 cubic metres of landfill.

So it is easy to see that there is no shortage of eco-friendly, sustainable products out there that meet the needs of today’s increasingly discerning consumers and specifiers. Customers these days are looking for more: more quality, more longevity, more thoughtful production and above all more of a story.

“And this is when recycling, up-cycling and repurposing takes centre stage. Products with a history, a past life, a story to tell, this is what appeals,” says Redshaw.

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