Floor Coverings Hawaiian Style

By Annette Callari, Allied ASID, Chair Holder CMG

showroomAloha from the picturesque Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii.  I admit it—I am enjoying a restful vacation with family and friends and I see why they call this paradise.  Imagine sipping a tropical drink and watching a crimson sunset on the beach.  That’s the hard life I’ve been leading for this week.

But writing is never too far from my mind, and this was an excellent opportunity to find out what trends are hot in floor coverings in our 50th State.  So I went on an adventure yesterday to do a little research and talk to a respected local retailer.  Here’s what I found out….

If you think flooring retailers in Hawaii are free from the Big Box competition, not so.  Yes they have Lowe’s and Home Depot looming large, but Hawaiians like the personal, local touch only an independent flooring contractor can provide.  Life is slower here, much slower, so some of the stress of “I need it NOW” is alleviated.

photoHardwood floors are popular.  I was a bit surprised to hear that because of the high humidity and inevitable presence of sand.  Engineered woods do extremely well because of their stable core construction and of course, the protective surface coatings manufacturers have developed.  In speaking with Floor Coverings Hawaii, LLC in Kailua-Kona, they feature woods from a local island manufacturer called Koa.  I was very impressed to see these beautifully designed products.  Exotic, high movement woods are their specialty, and these unique species of woods are well-suited to island life.  My favorite is Monkeypod!  I made sure to snap a picture for you to see.

Floor Coverings Hawaii, owned by Taryn Johnson, has over 10 years of experience on the island.  Todd Olson was on duty during my visit and gave me some great inside-information.

lvtAs popular as LVT is on the mainland, it is just beginning to make its mark on this island.  Karndean displays were prominent, and introducing the locals to the benefits of LVT is opening up a whole new perspective for their customers.  The future looks bright for gaining LVT market share in Hawaii.

Porcelain tile, as you would expect, is a solid choice for island homes.  Ease of maintenance, stability in a high-humidity climate, longevity of product life–these are all good reasons for porcelain to enjoy a top position.  Linen-weave and strand bamboo patterns are examples of highly popular styles.

Cork floors and bamboo are much in demand.  Organic, nature-based products suit the environment here.  Whereas bamboo may offer some challenges in less humid climates on the Mainland, the high humidity here nourishes and stabilizes bamboo floors.  Very interesting!  Medallion’s Strand Woven Bamboo is a big hit in both light and dark color options.

Carpets from Mohawk, Shaw and T & A were featured at Floor Coverings Hawaii.  The big manufacturers are attentive to the special needs of island customers.  Solution-dyed nylons, shorter, denser pile heights, woven organic patterns, all ranked high.

As you can see, the casual, slower-paced feeling of the islands is reflected in their floor covering choices.  Ease of maintenance is a priority, of course.  Decorating paradise is a tall order, but looks like the challenge is being met in style.

Mahalo and Aloha

Getting Transition Molding Right

Submitted by Steve Cooper

Molding for transition from one flooring material to another appears inconsequential. It hardly seems worth a blog post. That is, until you walk barefoot over a threshold that has been poorly designed. How does a bad transition make you yelp or squirm? Let’s count the ways.

transition wood_carpet1. Too narrow

2. Too high

3. A too-sharp edge

4. Splinters

5. Nails

You’ll know what’s wrong the minute you step on it. Your foot may glide across the transition but get creased by a sharp back edge. A nailhead may snag your stocking. Or the width will be so narrow that it’s slightly painful if the molding is stepped on squarely.

transition moldingWood-molding remedies are easy as long as the design gets attention prior to installation. Don’t let one be made so tall that you can stub your toe on it. Instead, have it built at least 3 inches wide, tapering down at each side. A 6- to 8-inch-wide transition may seem excessive, but it provides comfort. All nails should be set and the holes filled. For screws, countersink holes to eliminate a potential hazard.

If you are using metal or any other material for the thresholds, check for comfort before installtion by testing it with bare feet. Make sure no screw heads will be sticking up.

Let your installer know that you are concerned about comfort at transition points. This often goes unmentioned and, since molding is the last item during installation, it does not always get the attention it needs.

For more information on flooring visit the World Floor Covering Association’s Consumer Carpet & Flooring Guide.