Flooring | Return on Investment

By Matthew Marin, Associate EditorMultifamily developers, owners and designers are increasingly realizing the return on investment that a striking hardwood floor can deliver. There are many flooring options, but natural wood is one of the most popular choices desired by renters and buyers. Under the hardwood flooring category, there are a wide variety of choices from sleek and sophisticated to “hand-scrapped” hardwood floors that offer a loft conversion/warehouse aesthetic. “From a marketing perspective, the more upscale finishes, the better,” says Stephen Beacham, AIA, IIDA, associate principal of interior architecture for RMJM Hillier, an international architecture firm with offices in New York and Princeton, N.J. Susan Lowry, program director of Insight Real Estate Strategies Inc., a developer headquartered in North Richland, Texas, notes that buyers and renters are looking for hardwood floors. Flooring is key, according to Lowry. “It must be fluid with the rest of the design. It needs to complement the wall color and ceiling treatments. It’s the first thing you see when you enter a unit. It can provide strong impact to a new home.” Flooring is also an ideal way to incorporate green design elements. RMJM Hillier recently opted to utilize bamboo flooring for a rental development. Likewise, Beacham’s firm is currently designing units for a high-rise apartment project in Atlanta, in which the developer has emphasized the importance of including environmentally friendly hardwood flooring. “If you increase usage of recyclable, renewable or harvested hardwood floors and minimize the use of exotic wood flooring, then the demand for green flooring will increase,” Beacham says. Lowry adds that while bamboo and cork flooring are more expensive than natural wood flooring, these eco-friendly options are being sought by the consumer.Designers are also incorporating hardwood into kitchens, where it’s a desirable alternative to other popular options such as tile and laminates.PRODUCT PICKS…1. The Turlington Lock&Fold from Bruce Hardwood Floors combines the market’s popular hardwood species and colors with Patented NextGen engineered technology, offering twice the lock strength of traditional locking laminate and reducing installation time and expenses by an average of 30 percent. (www.bruce.com)…2. Armstrong’s CushionStep fiberglass floors now offers 23 additional designs with exciting color variations, including Mocha, Autumn Slate Stone and Peruvian Slate in Sea Cliff (pictured). Available in standard and high-density thickness, the CushionCore Technology provides a new standard of underfoot comfort. (www.armstrong.com)…3. When installed—either on its own or combined with stripping—the finely textured Amtico’s Fused Birch, which mimics the aesthetic of natural wood that is too soft for high-traffic areas, can enhance both traditional and modern spaces with its versatile grains and tones. (www.amtico.com)…4. Premier Flooring Solutions introduces the hand-scrapped American Cherry, Pecan and Walnut (pictured) varieties to its Nature’s Beauty line of engineered hardwood flooring. Each board’s face is chiseled by hand and beveled to enhance the planks’ oversized format. (www.pfsfloors.com)5. Cortica tiles from Cork Concepts are resilient yet durable and provide insulation, resistance to mold and acoustic qualities. The floor tiles are made from the cork left over from cork oak trees in Portugal that are stripped every nine years. (www.corkconcepts.com)…6. Created through a patented manufacturing process that fuses together bamboo strands with an environmentally safe adhesive, Teragren’s Synergy Strand Bamboo Flooring is 100 percent harder than red oak and is ideal for high-traffic residential installations. (www.teragren.com)…7. Offering a variety of styles, finishes and thickness options, the Junckers Solid Traditions collection brings together the aesthetic of nature with long lasting durability. This flooring product is recommend when using the existing sub-floor when installing the pre-finished solid hardwood floor. (www.junckershardwood.com)To comment on this article, e-mail Diana Mosher at dmosher@multi-housingnews.com.