Thursday, January 20, 2011

Moen's The Evolution of Cabinetry and Flooring

 Thank you to Moen and to writer Pat Curry for recognizing AK. We're always happy to participate in your professional and topical articles!

The Evolution of Cabinetry and Flooring
New material options highlight value and sustainability.

There are two big items customers want built into their homes these days -- value and sustainability. New materials in cabinetry and flooring are helping contractors and designers satisfy both demands. Here's a quick look at some evolutionary ideas and innovations in both categories.

Renewable and faux woods
Stock kitchen cabinets now offer more choices in renewable woods. One example is alder, a member of the birch family that has a cherry-like grain and holds a rich, dark stain much like cherry does -- in fact, it's sometimes called "poor man's cherry." "It's less expensive than cherry, but the average person can walk into a kitchen and not tell the difference," says Emily Smith, marketing communications manager for AK Complete Home Renovations in Marietta, Ga.
Alder often is available with a number of glaze and distressing options, which can help break up the visual 'blockiness' of a large run of cabinets. One potential drawback to alder: It's somewhat softer than cherry, making it slightly more prone to dents or scratches.
If you’re building or ordering custom cabinets for your client, newer eco-friendly options include products crafted from Dakota burl, Kirei board and Durapalm. All three are derived from agricultural waste products -- namely, sunflower seed husks, sorghum stalks and coconut or sugar palms past their fruit-bearing years, respectively.

Flooring finds
Underfoot, today's customers seem to value a combination of sustainability and stain resistance, says Michelle Giguere, lead designer for Mathew Hall, a building materials supplier based in St. Cloud, Minn.
Shaw Flooring is using a new fiber technology in its Anso nylon carpet that makes the fiber "super soft," according Shaw spokesperson Mollie Surrat. "You can take a nap on it," Surrat says. The material is made from 25 percent recycled carpet and features Shaw's R2X stain-resistant sealer. (It stood up to the torture of the world's largest pie fight in January.)
Scratching is a concern among consumers looking at hardwood floors. Surrat notes that Shaw finishes all of its hardwoods with ScufResist Platinum finish. "It's a miracle product," she says. "I have it in my own home. High heels, pets -- it resists all those kinds of scuff marks."
On the other hand, and in an ironic twist, Giguere says hand-scraped floors are gaining in popularity. "It already looks beat up, so the drop of a can or the scratch of a toy doesn't matter," she says. Hand-scraped floors feature the same polyurethane and aluminum oxide finish as other hardwood floors, making them easy to clean.
In vinyl flooring, Giguere says she's impressed with a new class of luxury products (an example is the Karndean line,) that mimics other materials, including wood, marble, slate and mosaic tile. "They're just stunning," she says. "I'm using it a lot in basement finishes. People are getting that warm look on their concrete. It's warmer, it's quieter, it's very usable and it looks great."

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