The recent years have seen a spate of innovations in the flooring materials and furnishing segment.
When thinking of ways to brighten up a room, most of us turn to our walls to provide talking points – either through art pieces or textured coverings and paints. However the ground beneath our feet also holds exciting possibilities for experimentation with texture and materials.
The Inside Track takes a look at some of the latest innovations in flooring materials from across the world.
Natural Growth Hardwood
Bolefloor has created the category of curved-length flooring for the market at large. Bolefloor is the world’s first industrial-scale manufactured naturally curved hardwood flooring that follow a tree’s natural growth. The company’s products are built around the question: Why are floorboards straight?
The reason for this is due to the technological limitations that forced floorboards to remain straight. Bolefloor thus allows the wood to return to a natural state.
Bolefloor uses a type of optimization technology and customised CAD/CAM developments to allow all floors to be created with shapes that echo the natural form of a tree. Bolefloor scanners’ natural-edge visual identification technology evaluates “imperfections” such as knots and sapwood near the edges or ends so that floors are both beautiful and durable.
The technology makes natural curved-length flooring available at a price not much more than today’s fine wood flooring. Bolefloor’s optimization technology means saving natural resources. Not only is the surface aesthetically appealing, but Bolefloor’s innovations allow more floors per forest.
Fontenay offers a truly original collection of flooring that is created out of cooperage (the outside of the barrel head with all its patina, cooper’s stamps and special markings). Part of their Vintage Barrel Collection, these floors are made of wine barrels that are carefully collected and then milled into three separate materials for three separate collections. The cooperage is made from the heads of authentic and used wine barrels.
Thus every piece of this flooring is completely unique – bearing the marks of its wear and tear from years of use. Genuine stamps and markings from the barrels are all incorporated into a Cooperage floor.
The collection also includes Wine Infusion (made from the rich coloured material that comes from the inside of the barrel and is naturally stained by the wine) and Stave (material from the outer sides incorporating the distinct markings from the hoops around the barrel).
Peach Pit Floors
This unique flooring is made entirely out of peach stones. This unusual idea comes from South Africa where the large number of orchards ensured a steady supply of peach pits being produced post-harvest. European settlers in the Cape first came up with this idea when they cleverly noticed how these durable pits would make a great flooring material.
Now, South African company Stone Fruit Floors packs the peach pits by hand, and seals them with glue, resin and urethane. Sharp edges are ground off, making it more comfortable to walk on with bare feet. Stone Fruit Floors has even created a flattened style that integrates the peach pits without the “cobbled” effect.
Leather scraps from furniture, shoes, car seats, and other tanneries eventually make their way to landfills. U.S. based company EcoDomo gathers real leather scraps and stone-grinds them to make sheets for richly-hued tiles and panels. The naturally sound-absorbent tiles install like cork or vinyl (preglued tiles are available).
For care and upkeep of floor tiles, use a damp mop to clean them; wax them three times a year, or use a topical sealer once every five to 10 years. Wall tiles do not need wax or additional maintenance. EcoDomo offers eight colors, four textures, and nine size and shape varieties. Tiles range from six inches square to 24 inches square.
With advancements in technology, ceramic and vinyl tiles are now exact replicas of real wood tiles. In addition these tiles are more durable and easier to maintain than wood. Thus they can be used in spaces where conventionally wood could not – such as wet rooms and shower cubicles.
DuPont’s Sorona® is a renewably sourced biopolymer fibre. The fibre can be used in making large floor carpets and is both renewable and has high design versatility.
Sorona® contains 37 % annually renewable plant-based ingredients. In addition to this, producing Sorona® uses 30 % less energy and releases 63 % fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to the production of nylon 6.
With the highest bio-based content in the synthetic carpet fiber market, Sorona® offers durability and stain resistance. This makes it viable for a range of applications both in residential and commercial carpets.
Some years back Mohawk Industries partnered with DuPont and introduced SmartStrand with DuPont Sorona™, a line of residential flooring carpet and tiles made with renewably sourced polymers derived from corn sugar. The technology uses 37% content from renewable sources, rather than petroleum, which helps to reduce dependency on oil, reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, and lower energy consumption.
Luxury vinyl is a relatively new category of flooring that combines the high-end look of hardwood (or stone) with the durability of vinyl. Because it stands up to moisture, wood-look vinyl is a natural fit in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. Moreover newer vinyl products are more comfortable to walk on than their older counterparts.
For instance Armstrong has three collections in its luxury vinyl line that recreate natural looks. Alterna is the luxury vinyl tile that looks like ceramic tile or stone, while Luxe Plank luxury vinyl looks like hardwood.
Text By Alyssa Lobo