The flooring industry is always evolving and growing with the times. Remember the days of orange shag carpet or checkered linoleum floors? Current trends may not be quite as bold, but they are a reflection of today’s culture. So what’s hot right now? Softer carpet and wider and longer plank hardwood are just a couple that are topping the list. Who wouldn’t want their carpet to be softer? It’s obvious why our first trend has quickly been gaining popularity. New fiber systems have brought about a spike in soft-handed carpets across almost all manufacturers. Shaw’s Caress Collection boasts both softness and performance. Their extremely fine-denier nylon delivers a silky softness, coupled with their R2X stain resistance system and durable, tightly twisted yarn construction, making Caress a consumer favorite. Mohawk introduced its SmartStrand Silk line and saw immediate success. Their fiber system is made with DuPont Sorona polymer, containing 37% renewable resources derived from corn. Stain and soil protection are built right into the fiber, so they won’t wear or wash off and provide a safer, chemical-free carpet that maintains its inherent softness. Beaulieau also joined the party with their Bliss collection, featuring SoftSense fiber. The secret to their softness is in their fiber extrusion process. Fine-denier polyester fibers are extruded, tufted into a super-dense pile construction, and treated with Beaulieau’s MagicFresh deodorizer, Scotchguard Protector, and Silver Release anti-microbial treatment. The Dixie Group and Dream Weavers have also rolled out their versions of an extra soft carpet solution with Stainmaster TruSoft and Cashmere. So if new carpet is in your future, you’ll have plenty of options sure to make you and your feet happy. When it comes to hardwood, the trend that we’re seeing with increasing popularity is wider and longer-plank hardwood. These super-sized planks are not a new phenomenon. Early settlers built their homes with “virgin timbers”, which were considerably taller in height and thicker in girth, yielding wider and longer planks for flooring. The natural character (knots, checks, wormholes, and mineral streaks) that these planks contained was not a concern for early Americans, as functionality was far more important than aestetics. But as time went on, these inherent characteristics of wood became undesirable and new equipment, such as end-matchers and chop saws, were developed to cut out these “defects”. The average length and width of hardwood floor planks dropped considerably. Fast forward to 2013, and as the market is demanding a more unique hardwood solution, the industry has gone back to its roots and answered with wider and longer planks. Seperate from one another but often used together, the key with wide and long boards is in maintaining the natural character and allowing sound knots, pinholes, and mineral streaks. The more character you like, the longer the boards can be, some even reaching 12 feet. One manufacturer, Olde Wood, offers Old Growth White Oak planks up to 12 feet, through the use of fallen virgin timber and reclaimed lumber. Reclaimed American Heart Pine is another popular option that uses longleaf pine logs that have been preserved in river bottoms for up to 200 years. When it comes to width, the standard 2-1/4″ board is making way to much wider boards, all the way up to 11-1/2″ (Urban Floor’s Composer Collection). Several hardwood manufacturers now offer wider-plank options in a variety of species to meet the growing trend.
One thing to keep in mind with wider and longer boards is the risk of cupping if moisture is present and the wood expands. This can be avoided by allowing the wood to acclimate to its environment prior to installation and checking the moisture of the subfloor to make sure it is within at least 2% of the flooring product. For more information on these trends or any other flooring inquires, please contact a Pizazz product specialist at 678-687-8693.