Market Trending Towards Lower Sheen and Lower VOC Products
>Wood flooring can be finished in numerous different ways. Some finishes are burnished into the wood, some are natural oils that harden over time, some are a top coating that actually builds a film of protective finish over the wood and others chemically bond to the wood fibers to seal the wood from being able to absorb moisture, dirt, etc. To cover all these topics in depth I could write a full length book which is not the point of this blog. However I would like to touch on a few trends that are becoming more apparent in the industry that have to do with finishes.
First off there has been for some time now a renewed interest in very flat sheen levels on hardwood flooring. This is in some ways a throw back to what the old waxed wood floors looked like before the use of topical coatings became popular. Waxed floors generally have a very flat sheen as well as a depth of color that is difficult to achieve with a topical coating, especially the widely used waterbased top coatings in use today. This renewed trend in flatter sheens has brought to market some products that have been in use in the European market for some time that can achieve these looks while being easier to maintain than the wax finishes of yesterday.
Nicole Little from North Carolina based Greyne Custom Wood Co. notes “People have not only grown tired of the metallic and milky aluminum-oxide finishes, but have developed an appreciation for the natural, muted and environmentally friendly alternatives.”
Nicole brings up another trend in finishes towards environmentally friendly products. In addition to the look these finishes give, Greyne is building on the fact that they are “the leading pioneer in the industry using European environmentally-friendly oil finishes. This vegetable based oil product has been used in Europe for 30 years and is viturally VOC free with only 1% -2% solvent content.”
Tim Igo from West Plains, MO based The Master’s Craft adds “When I entered into the hardwood flooring business 10 years ago there was still a good demand for high gloss sheens, almost a glassy looking finish on both site-finished and pre-finished products. The products were made to mimic a furniture finish on flooring. Over the course of the last few years we’ve seen the market move from semi-gloss, to satin, to satin-matte. With our Hallmark line of products we maintain a 30 gloss level which is pretty flat but we’re already being asked to come up with a product line that is flatter in appearance.”
Rick Merwin from Stanton, CA based Fontenay Wood Products melds the old world look of the European oil finishes and their environmentally friendly aspects in the production of their reclaimed wood flooring products. “The current trend toward lower VOC finishes is gaining momentum. Although we have traditionally worked with the best waterborne finishes with low VOC levels we are working towards using products that are 0 VOC. Besides being environmentally conservative, these oil finishes offer the consumer a beautiful product that is easily maintained without professional application. This completes a win-win-win scenario which benefits the environment, the consumer and the manufacturers” states Merwin.
It’s difficult to give a visual of how different these products look with just a picture. For more information or sample requests please contact one of these fine manufacturer’s to get a sample.