Given the means and the option, numerous home buyers would probably choose hardwood flooring as their first choice. Perhaps this explains why there are so many wood flooring exhibitors at SURFACES this week. But, many offerings at this year's show are, at best, average, with thin top layers and inconsistent finishes. And the less said about the vinyl offerings the better.
But SURFACES also presented a number of exciting flooring products, such as cool corks, slick bamboo, and cheerful-looking glass in ice-cream colors. Some good wood products commanded a presence as well. Here are some of the notable offerings from this year's SURFACES.
Enviro Hardwood: The manufacturer recovers teak hardwood from a manmade South American lake that was created in 1960 to produce hydroelectric power. About 1 million acres of rainforest was flooded and lost, so the company's diving recovery teams use underwater chainsaws to reclaim the trees. Lumber from the effort makes these 2- to 5-inch-wide flooring in a wonderful array of natural colors. They come in random lengths. www.envirohardwood.com.
Wood-Boo Flooring: Made with three types of materials, Wood-Boo-Too is an ingenious invention. The product is constructed of a 3-millimeter cork underlayment for sound control, a 10.5-millimeter strand bamboo core for stability, and a 3-millimeter top wear layer of exotic hardwood. The tongue and groove areas are waxed to help control moisture, and the "click" installation system means planks can be cut to fit and dropped into place. Eight species are available. www.woodboo.com.
Cikel America: The Cabo collection of engineered exotic Brazilian hardwood flooring features a 1/2-inch sawn wear layer and a seven-ply hardwood core. Planks measure 7 inches wide and ranges in lengths from 1 foot to 6.6 feet with micro-beveled edges and micro-beveled ends. An eight-layer oxide finish offers protection. It's available in five exotic species: amendola, eucalyptus, ipe, Brazilian cherry, and tigerwood. www.cikel.com.
Brazfloor: Puzzle Floor, as its name suggests, is truly a puzzle on the floor. The engineered floor is custom sized and numbered for its intended room and shipped to the job site. Available in a variety of Brazilian species such as cherry and ipe, it can be ordered with a natural oil finish or with aluminum oxide polyurethane. It can be glued down or floated. The manufacturer will even archive each order just in case a homeowner needs a replacement tile. www.brazfloor.com.
Beckwith Interiors: Part of the Jamie Beckwith Collection, Enigma is a line of puzzle-like pattern flooring that is made from a layer of solid white oak laminated to a nine-ply Baltic birch substrate. The floor features a polyurethane finish and is available in 15 patterns and various stain options. www.beckwithinteriors.com.
Magnewood: And now for something completely different: this flooring features a reconstituted stone/wood pulp base laminated to a solid wood veneer. Made from 75 percent recycled materials, the product is designed for high-humidity areas such as basements and is fire- and mold-resistant. It comes in random lengths and with tongue and groove construction on all four sides. Various wood species and bamboo are available. www.magnewoodengineeredflooring.com.
Johnsonite: Resilient flooring can sometime seem boring, but the manufacturer is spicing up the category with Nouveau, a 24-inch rubber tile with leaf texture patterns. The tiles measure 1/8-inch thick and come in five patterns and more than 100 solid colors. They can be especially effective as an accent tile in a floor installation. www.johnsonite.com.
FlexTherm: FLEXSnap is a quick and innovative approach to floor warming installation. The foundation of the system is a 12-inch plastic tile that secures to the floor and accepts the green heating cable. Unlike other systems, it needs only one layer of plywood subfloor and does not need to be skim-coated, allowing installers to lay tile on the same day. The system's FLEXGlide tool also allows contractors to install the heating cable while standing. www.flextherm.com.
Nigel Maynard is senior editor, products, at BUILDER magazine. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/products_hound.