Woodcuts: The NWFA defines “wood flooring” for the industry - Dec 2018
By Michael Martin
Wood flooring has a great story to tell-and it’s a story consumers are interested in hearing. Research conducted on behalf of the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) in late 2017 reinforced that homeowners in the United States love wood floors and want them in their homes. This research also found that consumers believe wood floors add value to their homes, are durable and are easy to clean.
While we know wood is popular, at the same time, our industry has seen increased competition from other flooring surfaces that are imitating wood. In fact, the results of NWFA’s 2019 Industry Outlook survey indicate that growing demand for non-wood/wood-look floorcoverings is among the top concerns of wood flooring manufacturers, distributors, retailers and contractors.
Nearly half of the retailers in the survey said that wood flooring sales were growing more slowly than non-wood flooring sales. More than half of retailers stated they face challenges in educating consumers on the differences between floorcovering products and materials. For example, one retailer wrote, “Customers buy our products infrequently and are not immersed in all of the variables that make for either superior or inferior items.”
Indeed, there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about the characteristics of what really is a wood floor. The NWFA wants to help clear this up for professionals in the industry and for the consumers who ultimately choose to have the product placed in their homes.
DEFINING WOOD FLOORING
As part of the process to update the NWFA’s strategic plan in 2018, the NWFA board of directors established a task force to define wood flooring. This group included representatives from across the wood flooring supply chain. They created the following formal definition, which was approved by the board: “Wood is the hard, fibrous material that forms from the main substance of the trunk or branches and beneath the bark of a tree. A wood floor is any flooring product that contains real wood as the top-most, wearable surface of the floor.”
The definition goes further to state that wood flooring may be broken into three categories:
1. Solid wood flooring is a solid piece of wood from top to bottom.
2. Engineered wood flooring is real wood flooring from top to bottom. It is normally made using multiple wood veneers or slats of wood glued together at opposing directions.
3. Composite engineered wood flooring contains real wood on the wearable surface only. The backing and core material may be made up of any type of composite material.
The definition was designed to help professionals and consumers identify the difference between real wood and wood-look flooring products. Now, the NWFA is working to promote real wood flooring directly to consumers by educating them on the benefits of real wood flooring and proper maintenance. As such, dealers, retailers and the A&D community will clearly be an important part of the education process for consumers.
In January, the NWFA is launching an industry-wide campaign to promote real wood as the flooring of choice. The new Homeowner’s Handbook to Real Wood Floors will provide information about the benefits of wood flooring, how to choose the right floor based on lifestyle, and proper maintenance. It walks consumers through the various stages of life to show them wood floors can handle all of their big and small moments, while dispelling some of the myths about wood floors.
The NWFA’s consumer-facing website, WoodFloors.org, has been updated to reflect the look and feel of the handbook. The website has experienced significant traffic in the past, and it will now be even easier for visitors to find the information they need. Whether they are trying to decide between solid or engineered or looking for ways to protect floors, it is a one-stop shop for wood flooring tips.
NWFA members will also have access to a toolkit to help share the message of real wood floors in their local markets. The toolkit equips them with a variety of materials to reach consumers via news outlets, their websites and social media, and at events such as home shows. It’s a grassroots effort that will help NWFA members establish themselves as experts in their local markets.
The Homeowner’s Handbook to Real Wood Floors can be viewed on WoodFloors.org. Printed copies are available for purchase.
As the trade association of the wood flooring industry, the NWFA believes consumers will view the handbook and website as unbiased resources that help them in making an informed decision about the right flooring for their home. These tools certainly will be helpful for retail stores and their staff members to use when discussing flooring surface options with potential buyers.
The NWFA hopes that the definition and materials developed for the campaign will also be useful to those who work directly with consumers.
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