Ooh, This past week Design Shop was lucky enough to be invited by Lauzon and the Floor Show to visit the Lauzon flooring mills in the Papineau region of Quebec. Debbie and I joined a few other designers from Winnipeg and our representatives from the Floor Show, along with others from the industry from Regina and Edmonton. It had been years since I’ve been to Quebec – I quickly remembered how beautiful it is!
The purpose of our trip was to further our understanding of Lauzon’s solid and engineered hardwood flooring. They did a wonderful job of showing us their processes and procedures. We started at their forest (very impressive) and ended at their finishing plant, watching their employee’s box up the floor to be sent off to distributers.
We found it interesting getting a glimpse into how Lauzon understands their each specific consumer and their trend. They can tell you what a client from the west coast might want versus what someone in Ontario prefers. We saw the production of solid wood as well as engineered wood – both from start to finish.
What may be a misconception to some people, or at least it had been for me, was the difference between solid and engineered wood floor. If you were to hold a piece a solid plank against a piece of engineered plank, both same size, they would look and feel identical on the surface. Solid wood floor is just that – 100% wood plank, stained, finished and notched to fit in to each other. Engineered wood floor has a wood surface, but with a plywood/composite backing. In my opinion, as there are with many long standing practices, there is a certain romanticism with the solid wood floor. It feels more authentic, more genuine – and to some people, engineered can seem inferior.
Conversely, engineered wood has many advantages. Wood flooring products are at the mercy of temperature, as the temperature rises or lowers, a wood floor plank will swell or shrink. Additionally, the wider or longer the plank, the more you will see gaps in between your planks. Even if you were extremely careful to maintain a consistent temperature in your home, the uncontrollable and unpredictable Canadian temperature/humidity level outside your home would still affect your interior finishes.
An engineered wood floor has a plywood/composite backing with an incredible amount of strength. The backing allows engineered flooring to be made in thicker planks and also longer planks. The combination of the backing plus a thinner amount of natural wood on the surface layer allows for much more stability within the plank which means less movement between your planks, as well as a more durable plank in general.
Solid wood floor planks are just not able to achieve these sizes as their installation would result in too much movement (imagine the wood floors you’ve likely seen with big gaps in between the boards that catch on your socks and creak when you walk!) You can typically see the thinner, shorter wood planks in older homes as this was just how they were made at that time. The wood floor market has been shifting in the past few years to wider and longer planks.
There is still a need for both products – the solid wood plank and the engineered wood plank. For me, this trip helped to understand the pros and cons of both type, and recognize what type of project or client would be appropriate for either/or. In general the market is moving towards a preference in engineered floor, but there are still going to be clients who want a solid wood floor for years to come.
Aside from visiting Lauzon’s forest, mills and labs – we got to spend a fair bit of time outside which was wonderful. We hadsome free time to visit the ByWard market in Ottawa on our first day which was very charming. We walked through the wind to the Parliament building and stopped for a drink at a nearby pub to warm up! We stayed in the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Montebello which was a design inspiration in itself. It felt very Canadiana, traditional in the best way and so cozy! Probably the best part about the Montebello Fairmont, aside from the amazing central fireplace, was the resident dog named Monte. Monte “worked” at the hotel on Mondays and Fridays … needless to say we were smitten. We even met some chickens and a pot belly pig! The rest of our time was well misspent eating and drinking in good company– we were treated very well by our generous hosts and ate way too much cheese and chocolate.
We came back home feeling grateful, refreshed and inspired … we have some exciting ideas for upcoming projects!! Until next time !
The Design Shop Girls