We recently asked Kim Wahlgren, longtime editor of Wood Floor Business, for her insight on what she thinks will be popular this year in the wood floor industry––what homeowners are demanding, and what contractors are seeing. Check out our Q&A below for some interesting insight into where the industry and design trends are headed this year.

WPFS: Are homeowners/designers choosing increasingly wider floors?

Kim: We don’t see any limit to the trend of installing wider and wider flooring, which certainly presents some challenges depending on the job site, the geographic region and the skill of the contractor involved. For extremely high-end projects, board width and, in some cases, extraordinary lengths seem to be the hallmark demonstrating just how expensive that wood floor is. In our State of the Industry survey last year, 77% of wood flooring distributors expected demand for wide plank to increase.

Do homeowners/designers prefer variable or fixed width floors?

The majority of jobs we see are one width.

Do you think we will see an increased interest in treatments like hand-scraping and wire-brushed floors?

We had a stretch not long ago where we were seeing a heavy scrape or other texture on the floors. What we are seeing now is still an emphasis on texture, but a subtle texture that looks more time-worn. Sometimes you can barely see the texture but can feel it when you run your fingers over the flooring. For site-finished floors, there are some contractors who still do hand-scraped jobs the way pros did them before the advent of sanding machines, and of course they charge accordingly for that labor-intensive, hand-hewn flooring. 

Will we see an increased interest in reclaimed flooring?

Anecdotally, we hear that reclaimed flooring is hotter than ever. This is backed up by the fact that the article “What I’ve Learned Working With Reclaimed Flooring” is one of the top articles on our website.

What are the trends in terms of colors/shades? Is the gray/whitewashed look still hot or are you seeing another trend emerge?

At the Surfaces show in Las Vegas, it was apparent that colors such as dark gray and even black have given way to lighter hues, in many cases going away from straight gray to the range of tones many people refer to as “greige.” The overwhelming trend as far as color right now, both for prefinished and site-finished flooring, is layered color, usually with a subtle texture that reveals the colors in the layers. Extremely high-end contractors tell us that the ultimate selling point for their customers is having a unique color developed specifically for them, usually in cooperation with a designer and/or architect. Being a color expert is a necessity for today’s elite wood flooring contractor. This job we wrote about earlier this year is a great example of this.

Are matte finishes still gaining in popularity?

Absolutely, the trend for sheens now is “how low can you go.” Contractors tell us that some customers are even asking for floors that look like they have no finish at all. 

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