Kim Wahlgren, editor of Wood Floor Business, recently sat down with us to provide insight into some wood flooring trends to look out for in 2019. Kim M. Wahlgren is the longtime editor of Wood Floor Business. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, she manages the day-to-day operations of the WFB print magazine, website, E-News and social media.
Check out our questions and Kim’s answers below, and let us know about your thoughts in the comments.
What are some hardwood flooring trends that gained popularity or made an appearance in 2018?
Kim: Right now the industry seems to be all about throwing down the gauntlet in terms of custom complex colors. The premier prefinished floor companies offer gorgeous layered color looks, and
finish companies are offering products that run the gamut as far as options to create unique colors. The distinguishing factor for many high-end contractors today is the ability to deliver a wood floor color the neighbors down the street don’t have—and won’t ever be able to replicate. We recently did an article on shou sugi ban flooring, which involves burning the surface of the wood to achieve a different effect. This technique was unheard of in the wood flooring industry until very recently. Overall we see a level of craftsmanship and artistry in the industry that continues to increase. Customers’ expectations have drastically changed, and there’s a growing knowledge base required for today’s contractors to deliver on those expectations.
Do you believe that the wide plank flooring trend will continue? Do you think that we will see planks get wider and wider as time goes on?
Kim: Absolutely, we see the wide plank trend continuing and, if anything, just getting bigger—literally. Not only are widths continuing to push the limits of what used to be considered feasible, we are also seeing some high-end floors with extraordinarily long lengths. Our December 2018/January 2019 cover floor had Doug fir solid planks 12 inches wide and 33 feet long. And we recently posted a video on our Facebook page of a contracting crew carrying in wide-plank flooring that was 53 feet long!
Do you think that handscraped/distressed floors will remain popular into 2019?
Kim: There are still plenty of hand-scraped and distressed floors in the industry, particularly among prefinished floors, but we’re also seeing a much more subtle surface emphasizing the natural texture of the flooring. Contractors are using techniques such as wire-brushing combined with different colors to create a layered effect with some texture on the surface of the wood flooring.
Do you see matte finish remaining a popular choice for many homeowners and designers in 2019? Is there any particular reason why you think the “natural” look has caught on and has such an appeal?
Kim: Matte finishes are absolutely the current trend, and with some of the current finish products on the market, particularly the oils, customers can have a finished floor that appears to be bare wood. Just last week a contractor told me a story about a customer who called after the contractor put an oil finish on the floor—the customer didn’t think he had coated the floor. Of course, when using these products, there’s an educational process that has to happen with the customer about expected maintenance.
Which species were most popular in 2018 and are there any particular species which you think will become more popular in 2019 and thereafter?
Kim: We continue to see an emphasis on domestic species and hear many retailers talking about the demand for hickory. And the craze for white oak continues. Given today’s obsession with custom color, the white oak make sense—its tannins create interesting effects when using different reactive products such as iron acetate solutions. Our WFB State of the Industry survey results also show that the demand for bamboo has diminished, and respondents expect that trend to continue.
Thanks to Kim for taking the time to respond to our questions and give insight into what to expect in hardwood flooring trends this year! What do you think of these trends? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.