Although your official job title is “contractor”, you probably find yourself consulted by clients who want you to help them find the best floors and design ideas for their homes.
We’re only a few weeks into 2016, but based on trends from the latter part of last year, here are some predictions for hardwood flooring trends that we’re expecting to see a lot of in 2016.
Be on the lookout for homeowners who request the following, and be ready to suggest some of these ideas to any clients who aren’t exactly sure what they want their new floors to look like.
Wide plank flooring is still in, and it looks like it will remain popular in the hardwood flooring industry for quite some time. Wide plank floors provide elegance and hipness, and they also help to visually open up a space. But it’s not just about the look; wide plank flooring is also practical, since it is more dimensionally stable than strip floors. This means that they fluctuate less in response to the seasons, making them a great choice in environments where there are wide variations in humidity throughout the year.
Handscraped and distressed floors are in because many homeowners enjoy the rustic charm that they offer. According to Kim Wahlgren of Wood Floor Business: “Many people thought reclaimed wood was a trend that would run its course, but it, along with wide plank and distressed styles, has proven its staying power. If manufacturers aren’t offering actual reclaimed flooring, many are imitating its look.” (Read our full Q&A with Kim here).
Because of the popularity of distressed flooring and the artisanal look in general, you might want to consider offering on-site distressing as a special service in order to set yourself apart from your competitors. For a customized look that your clients are sure to love, this might be the way to go, as it only requires a few tools and some extra time. Otherwise, you can simply can purchase wood floors that have already been distressed at the factory.
Eco-friendly floors are also going to remain popular this year — not just because a lot of young homeowners are determined to reduce their carbon footprints, but also because eco-friendly floors provide a uniquely rustic look.
Reclaimed hardwood is just one example of an eco-friendly floor. Reclaimed floors usually consist of wood salvaged from a variety of sources such as old industrial buildings and barn houses. This makes it the perfect option for environmentally-minded clients.
But eco-friendliness doesn’t stop with the floors themselves. It’s also about the process of installing them and the products used. Dustless sanding is one eco-friendly option for installing floors. The process is usually accomplished with special dustless equipment such as the Clarke RS-16 DC buffer and the Clarke 7R edger hooked up to an HVAC vacuum such as the ProTeam MegaVac. This reduces the amount of dust and particles in the air, reducing the overall health and environmental impacts of the hardwood floor installation process.
Eco-friendly hardwood floor products such as low- or no-VOC finishes are also in high demand because they are not as harsh on the lungs or environment as traditional polyurethane finishes. The UV floor cure process is also eco-friendly because it utilizes a water-based finish, and it results in a truly durable floor that can hold up even in commercial settings.
Gray-aged flooring: Gray-washed floors allow you to achieve the distressed look without doing any physical damage to the floors — they are simply stained to look old and weathered. It’s the perfect floor design for a rustic-inspired space. And making a homemade stain is rather easy — just take a quick look at our video tutorial.
Dark and light species and stains: As for floor stains and colors, homeowners tend to favor both ends of the spectrum, rather than warm hues in the middle.
Dark species such as mahogany and walnut, and dark floor stains such as ebony are popular this year. A dark floor makes the room look modern, sleek, and formal. Dark floors are also practical because they help conceal any damage to the finish.
Although dark floors have been on the upswing for the past several years, lighter floors are trending as well. Oak has been a mainstay in American homes for quite some time, and it seems that this will remain the case.
White oak and other light-colored species such as maple and ash make the room look more open, providing more depth of space. For this reason, light-colored floors are an especially excellent choice in kitchens with open floor plans. Keep this in mind as hardwood floors in kitchens are trending too because of their durability and their ability to provide depth of space.
USA grown and made flooring: In the wake of recent reports concerning dangerous chemicals in hardwood and composite floors manufactured overseas, the “Made in USA” stamp is now particularly desirable to consumers. Ensuring that your clients know their floors were manufactured in the United States could alleviate some suspicion about the possibility of unwanted compounds in their flooring.
How to keep up with the trends
The home decor industry and its trends seem to move at the speed of light, so you might be wondering how to keep up with what’s in and what’s not. There are a few ways to do it.
You already know about Wood Floor Business. Their blog posts provide a way to keep up with what other contractors are doing, and to get some design inspiration for your own projects.
The home decor-centric social media site Houzz is an excellent site to have a presence on. Site users save pictures of interiors to their “Ideabooks” to cultivate lists of products and style ideas that they enjoy. Reclaimed and distressed hardwood flooring are some of the most popular types of floor coverings on the site.
Houzz is also a great site to have a presence on because you can advertise your services as a contractor to millions of very willing prospects — about 84 percent of Houzz users are planning to redecorate their homes, and 40 percent are planning to remodel.
Industry influencers on Twitter are great to follow because you can see what trends they’re talking about and get some ideas from the pictures they post and resources they broadcast.
Overall, it looks like the hardwood floor trends of 2015 will continue to be popular in 2016. But make sure to keep abreast of any changes in the industry, and read our blog for updates!