Wood Cuts - June 2011

By Frank Kroupa

 

When most people think about wood flooring installations, they generally think about residential applications, but there is another lucrative market out there that cannot be ignored: the commercial sector.

Although commercial hardwood has experienced a decline in the past few years, it still represented a $159 million market in the United States in 2010. That translates to 10% of the total hardwood flooring purchases made in the United States that same year, according to Market Insights/Torcivia.

In general, the same criteria apply to both commercial wood flooring applications and residential applications, but because commercial wood flooring will receive significantly more traffic than residential wood flooring, there are some issues that must be considered.

Both solid wood flooring and engineered wood flooring will work well in a commercial setting. Solid wood flooring is exactly what the name implies: a solid piece of wood from top to bottom. The thickness of solid wood flooring can vary, but generally ranges from 3/4” to 5/16”. The benefit of solid wood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished many times, but solid wood floors can be used only above grade.

However, engineered wood floors can be used either above grade or below grade. This type of wood flooring consists of three to nine plies layered at right angles to each other. The top veneer consists of high-quality wood. This configuration makes engineered wood very stable, meaning that it will contract and expand less than solid wood flooring during fluctuations in humidity and temperature.

How these floors are installed will depend on the subfloor being used. The nail down and glue down methods are the most popular for commercial installations. The glue down method can be used for both solid (only if recommended by the manufacturer) and engineered products, but a wood subfloor will be necessary to do a nail down installation. Floating floors, or click systems, which are increasingly used in residential settings, are not used very often in commercial settings.

The profile of the wood selected will be a consideration for commercial applications as well.  Beveled edge floors have a slight bevel, or groove, between floorboards. This can allow small bits of dust and debris to accumulate between the floorboards, which can contribute to premature wear. Selecting a square edge floor can minimize this impact. In general, beveled edge floors are used in manufacturer finished wood flooring products, but in recent years manufacturers have minimized this issue by creating micro bevels or ease edged floors. The advantage of this type of wood flooring is that there is no sanding required, no fumes, no labor involved to apply finish, and no down time for drying of the finish. Square edge floors are more common with a site finished installation, which means that the floors are sanded and finished on the job site. Site finished wood floors allow for the greatest degree of customization, but with that benefit comes increased noise, dust and disruption. These problems can be minimized with the new dustless sanding systems being used by many wood flooring contractors, which reduce airborne dust and debris.

As with most residential wood floors, commercial wood floors most often are selected based on their color and appearance. The overwhelming trend is to select the wood flooring species to be used based on its natural color, instead of using stain to achieve a particular look. This works particularly well with commercial applications since this tends to hide wear and scratches better than wood floors using stain to achieve color.

If the installation includes a smooth finish, select grades, clear grades and first grade rustic species tend to conceal wear as well. However, growing in popularity in the commercial sector is the non-smooth finish, which can hide wear patterns even more effectively. These include hand-distressed floors that have an antiqued feel to them. This look is achieved through handscraping, wire brushing and rough sawing, all of which will camouflage minor scratches, imperfections and wear patterns.

Perhaps the most critical consideration in commercial wood flooring applications is the finish used. More than species, this will have the most impact on the durability of the floor and its ability to stand up to high traffic patterns. Surface finishes are very popular because they are durable, water-resistant, and require minimal maintenance. These include water-based finishes, which have a mild odor and are fast drying; oil-based finishes, which have a moderate odor and are slow drying; conversion varnishes, which have a strong odor and are fast drying; and moisture-cured finishes, which have a strong odor and are slow or fast drying depending on humidity levels. Wax finishes generally are not used in commercial settings since they will show spots from water and other contaminants more easily.

In most commercial applications, acrylic impregnated finishes can be recommended. This type of finish is injected directly into the wood to create a durable floor that can stand up to increased traffic. The new UV cured finishes can dry within a fifth of a second, which means multiple coats can be applied immediately. These finishes are as durable as the best job site finishes, and very easy to use.

Needless to say, the demand for wood flooring in the commercial sector is here to stay. Analysts believe that the greatest growth potential will occur in three major areas: healthcare facilities, retail shopping venues, and restaurant operations. Opportunities will abound for both new construction and remodeling, and wood flooring contractors will want to be prepared for meeting the demands of this high visibility, potentially high profit, market.

Copyright 2011 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Unemployment Falls but August Job Gains Muted   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Employers in the U.S. added 142,000 jobs in August, the lowest monthly total of the year, according to the Labor Department.

Horizon Floors Signs Denver Hardwoods   Full Article
New York, NY, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Horizon Floors has a distribution agreement with Denver Hardwoods.

Invista Surfaces Makes Executive Promotions   Full Article
Kennesaw, GA, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Invista Surfaces has promoted Maggie Bidlingmaier to vice president of its residential business.

Gerflor Becomes Starnet Approved Vendor   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Sept. 5, 2014 -- Resilient flooring firm Gerflor said it has attained approved vendor status in Starnet.

USG Signs Private Label Agreement With Powerhold   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Sept. 5, 2014 -- USG Corporation said it has entered a private-label agreement with Powerhold, the largest flooring accessories distributor network in the country.

Shaw Ranked Fourth on E-learning List   Full Article
Dalton, GA. Sept. 5, 2014 -- Shaw Industries ranked fourth on E-learning! magazine’s Learning! 100.

H.B. Fuller Acquires ProSpec Construction Products   Full Article
St. Paul, MN, Sept. 4, 2014 -- H.B. Fuller Company said it has acquired ProSpec Construction Products, a provider of tile and stone installation products.

Builder Hovnanian Says Income Doubled   Full Article
Red Bank, NJ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises reported third quarter net income of $17.1 million, or $0.11 a share, up from $8.5 million, or $0.06 a share, a year earlier.

Services Sector Expands at Faster Pace in August   Full Article
Tempe, AZ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Growth in the services sector of the economy accelerated in August to the highest level since 2005, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Initial Jobless Claims Still Near Eight-Year Low   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits last week ticked up although claims remain near an eight-year bottom.

Private Sector Job Growth Remains Steady   Full Article
Roseland, NJ, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Private sector employment increased by 204,000 jobs from July to August, according to the August ADP National Employment Report.

CRI's Mendez Named SGAC Board President   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Carpet and Rug Institute vice president for government relations Jennifer Mendez was named president of the board of directors of the State Government Affairs Council.

Royal Adhesives Acquires Toronto-Based Chemque   Full Article
South Bend, IN, Sept. 4, 2014 -- Royal Adhesives & Sealants said that its subsidiary Royal Adhesives & Sealants Canada will acquire polyurethane foams and adhesives maker Chemque.

Domotex Bringing Back Innovations Event   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Domotex is bringing back its Innovations@Domotex for a second season next year.

Factory Orders Increase by Record Amount   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Factory orders rose by a record amount in July, mostly on the strength of commercial aircraft.

Shaw Moves Up on Selling Power List   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Shaw Industries said it has been ranked no. 13 and is the only flooring manufacturer on the latest Selling Power 50 Best Companies to Sell For list.

Floor Focus Plans to Honor Young Professionals   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Floor Focus Magazine plans to recognize young professionals in the flooring industry who are under 40 years old.

Bona AB Wins Swedish Export Award   Full Article
Aurora, CO, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Bona AB said it has received the Export Hermes 2014 Award.

Rug Market Schedules Set Through 2018   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- AmericasMart has set the dates for its January and July markets, including its rug markets, through 2018.

Toll Brothers' Profit, Revenue Surge   Full Article
Horsham, PA, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. reported third quarter net income of $97.7 million, or $0.53 a share, up from $46.6 million, or $0.26 a share, a year ago.