Coverings Spring 2024

Page 1


Top trends to influence flooring in 2024 and beyond



THEN & NOW Toronto Residence
PM 40063056
Canada’s floor covering magazine \\ 3 SPRING 2024 CONTENTS 8 Installation Matters The realities of luxury vinyl installation 22 Then & Now Toronto home’s contemporary design breathes luxury into everyday life 4 From the Editor Change is a good thing 6 Business Builder How to build your ideal workweek to create business freedom DEPARTMENTS Vol. 49, No.1 Spring 2024 STYLE FILE Top trends to influence flooring in 2024 and beyond THEN & NOW Residence THE WONDER OF WOOD: MARQUETRY LUXURY VINYL INSTALL ISSUES UNEARTHED RECLAIMED FLOORS CARRY NOSTALGIC CHARACTER Cover photo by Patrick Biller
CANADA’S FLOOR COVERING MAGAZINE 10 Warm, Textured Tones Take the Floor Trend toward naturally coloured, touchable hardwood surfaces stronger than ever 14 If Wood could Talk Reclaimed floors have story to tell offering one-of-a-kind solution to end-users 16 Mystery Solved Causes, cures of wood floor sanding marks 18 The Artist’s Floor Marquetry elevates interior spaces with intricate woodworking practices 20 Embracing the Bold Colours influencing tile, stone as seen at TISE 21 Tallying Up Tile Trends Six ceramic, porcelain tile styles to inspire design this year FEATURES
Photo courtesy Patrick Biller

Change is a good thing

SPRING, WITH THE SUN SHINING more brightly, warmer weather and its budding trees and blooming flowers, is often associated with new beginnings. Given this, it marks an opportune time to introduce some changes to Coverings. To deliver more of the editorial content of most interest to readers, we have retired our product showcase and stats and facts sections from the print publication. You will now find both exclusively online. For quick and easy access, scan the QR code on this issue’s cover — a new addition to Coverings among others. If you don’t want to miss out on new product launches and industry analysis, I encourage you to sign-up for our newsletter, which is delivered directly to your e-mail inbox every other Thursday. With these changes, we have more space in the magazine to accommodate articles that keep you apprised of what’s going on in the rapidly evolving floor covering industry and that help you better your business. Specifically, our Installation Matters column will now appear in each issue in response to popular demand.

In this first edition of 2024, Lee Senter, president of the Canadian Flooring, Cleaning and Restoration Association, addresses moisture testing prior to luxury vinyl being laid in Installation Matters. But to begin, Jim Augustus Armstrong returns as our Business Matters columnist to discuss an all too common concern among independent floor dealers: overwork. He provides actionable steps to create better work-life balance and to take back control of your business, instead of it dominating you.

Wood flooring is a key focus of the spring edition. This section is jam-packed with articles that span a variety of topics, including hardwood flooring trends, reclaimed wood, sanding marks and marquetry.

We then turn to our annual style and design feature. Renowned interior designer Rachel Moriarty walks us through her trip to The International Surface Event this past January, and what she gleaned from the three-day expo. Then, I provide insight into six trends influencing ceramic and porcelain tile styles, as seen at Coverings in April.

To wrap is our Then & Now column. The design of a Toronto residence both closes out the issue and graces the cover of the magazine. The contemporary, almost minimalist, interior showcases different types of flooring, the most notable being that within a hidden bar.

If interested in being a guest columnist for Business Builder or Installation Matters, or you would like to see a topic covered, contact me at


Kate Byers

EDITOR Clare Tattersall



Published by


ART DIRECTOR Annette Carlucci



Coverings is published four times annually — Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter — for Canada’s floor covering industry. Subscriptions are free to qualified participants in Canada’s floor covering industry. Subscribe at Readers from outside Canada may purchase subscriptions for $55 Cdn. For subscription inquiries, e-mail Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Coverings 2001 Sheppard Avenue East, Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario M2J 4Z8

MediaEdge Communications and Coverings disclaim any warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or currency of the contents of this publication and disclaims all liability in respect to the results of any action taken or not taken in reliance upon information in this publication. The opinions of the columnists and writers are their own and are in no way influenced by or representative of the opinions of Coverings or MediaEdge Communications.

Copyright 2024

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Clare Tattersall

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Build ideal week to create business freedom, obtain long-lasting relief

Mental well-being is a high-priority for workers, according to the American Psychological Association’s most recent survey on the subject. However, workplace stress remains at a concerning level, with 77 per cent of respondents having reported experiencing work-related stress in the last month. Of these, 57 per cent indicated it was negatively impacting their job, even resulting in burn-out.

Flooring dealers often cite feeling overworked and that their business has too much control — it owns them instead of the other way around. Here’s how to regain control, find relief and free up an entire day per week without adding more staff and while continuing to maintain strong business growth.


For one week, carry a notebook wherever you go. Set a reminder on your smartphone to go off every hour. When it is sounds, write down tasks performed during the previous hour and time spent on each. For example: responded to e-mails, 15 minutes; worked the sales floor, 30 minutes; handled a customer complaint, 15 minutes.

At the end of the week, colour-code similar types of tasks with a highlighter. Then, add up hours spent on each coloured category. Doing so will provide a visual picture of time devoted to each group. This will enable you to identify single tasks, such as sales, setting up appointments, answering phones and typing e-mails, that are taking up multiple hours per week and can be delegated.


Next, use a blank sheet of paper or Excel spreadsheet to create a seven-day calendar. You should have seven columns, one for each day. In these columns, build your ideal week — the type you’d like to have if your business ran efficiently, you had quality staff and plenty of money. Don’t worry if those things aren’t in place yet. This exercise provides a goal to work toward.


As entrepreneurs, it is tempting to keep your fingers in every pie. The thought is if you’re not micro-managing, it won’t get done right. You’ve got to change this mindset and let others handle tasks that are keeping you overworked, preventing you from accomplishing mission-critical projects and living your best life. This means delegating. The one-week task journal will help you determine which tasks to allocate first. Look for a single task, which, if appointed, will free up the most hours. For example, if spending 20 hours per week selling, then hiring an additional salesperson or delegating some or all of your sales duties to your current team will immediately free up those hours.

Remember, nature abhors a vacuum. Once you’ve freed up those 20 hours it’s critical that you be deliberate about how you fill them. Otherwise, those hours will simply be spent doing less meaningful business ‘stuff.’

Jim Augustus Armstrong is founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. To obtain a free copy of Jim’s flooring industry report, Stop Leaving Millions on The Table, visit Jim can be reached at 530-790-6720 or

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The realities of luxury vinyl installation

The 2023 sales numbers for flooring are in and the results are indisputable. Luxury vinyl products account for a huge share of the flooring market and there seems to be no end in sight to growth in sales. More than 30 per cent of all sales, including ancillary items, were types of vinyl plank, reports retail and wholesale floor covering group CCA Global Partners. This year, the numbers are projected to reach 50 per cent.

There are many categories of luxury vinyl flooring — plank, tile, rigid board, SPC, WPC, PVC-free and now new polyester planks. These products come in a variety of colours, patterns, locking mechanisms and construction methods.

Today, as in years past, most floor covering purchase decisions are based on style and colour. Luxury vinyl products deliver on both. They also offer ease-of-maintenance to people with children and pets as these floors are simple to keep clean. But this is where the advantages end.

Luxury vinyl products are often sold as waterproof, which leads potential buyers to believe they can be installed in wet environments. This is not necessarily true and many in the flooring and remodelling industries express concern about potential mould issues in the future.

When flooring is installed on slab, on-grade or below-grade, it is not a question of if there is moisture in the concrete; rather, it is how much moisture is in the concrete.

Up until 2000, most people put carpet in the basement. It makes sense because basement concrete slabs are rarely flat and level, and carpet allows moisture from the concrete to breathe through. Then more homeowners started to lay laminate wood flooring in the basement, which invariably fails and buckles if there is too much moisture in the slab. This, in turn, enables the substrate of the floor to breathe.

Nowadays, the flooring of choice is luxury vinyl, but these products do not breathe and allow the moisture from the slab to es-

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cape. Worst yet, often the basement substrate underneath the vinyl is levelled with gypsum-based patching and other products that support mould growth. Wood subfloors and screeds also support mould growth, as do levelling compounds and household soils that remain on the substrate at the time of installation.

The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) provides guidelines for moisture testing of wood and concrete substrates. For wood substrates, it is recommended to test for moisture at several locations in the room — a minimum of 20 per 1,000 square feet, paying special attention to exterior and plumbing walls — and average the results. A high reading in one area indicates a problem that must be corrected. For concrete substrates, NWFA accepts moisture testing to several ASTM standards (F2170, F1869, D4944, D4263 and F2659 for electrical moisture meters). Most installers in Canada use ASTM F2170, Standard Test Method for Determining Relative Humidity in Concrete Floor Slabs Using in Situ Probes, or ASTM F2659, Standard Guide for Preliminary Evaluation of Comparative Moisture Condition of Concrete, Gypsum Cement and Other Floor Slabs and Screeds Using a Non-Destructive Electronic Moisture Meter; that is, if they test the substrate at all.

The only applicable standard for vinyl floor installation over a concrete slab is ASTM F710, Standard Practice for Preparing Concrete Floors to Receive Resilient Flooring.

Most hardwood floor manufacturers follow NWFA guidelines. This includes recommendations that relative humidity in ambient air be 30 to 50 per cent. Many engineered wood flooring products have even higher relative humidity stipulations, as well as temperature range requirements.

Vinyl, on the other hand, does not have a relative humidity requirement for ambient air; however, it has a temperature requirement, which includes limiting direct contact with areas of flooring that may be subject to excessive heat from sunlight through windows.

Where the problem lies is most flooring installers do not have the necessary equipment to measure and/or monitor temperature and relative humidity. This includes a thermo-hygrometer for ambient air readings, which is also used to measure the relative humidity of the slab when following ASTM F2170 — the most commonly specified moisture test for concrete by flooring manufacturers.

When it comes to non-penetrating moisture meters, few installers take requisite moisture readings of the wood and wood substrate prior to installation. What’s more, the meter most generally used does not read concrete moisture to a moisture content scale.

For years, concrete meters have not been employed when installing floors but with the surge in vinyl and its increased use in basements, it’s imperative to ensure the concrete is dry before flooring installation. Otherwise, there is great potential for mould claims.

Lee Senter is president of the Canadian Flooring, Cleaning and Restoration Association (CFCRA). The CFCRA offers discounted moisture meters for members and installers to make doing the right thing easier and less expensive. It also provides online and in-person training at little to no cost to help flooring dealers, installers and restoration companies properly take moisture and temperature/humidity readings.


ASTM F710 covers the procedure for determining the acceptability of concrete floors for the installation of resilient flooring. It also includes suggestions for ensuring the constructed concrete floor is acceptable for such installations, but it does not cover tests for adequacy of the concrete floor to perform structural requirements. A permanent, effective moisture vapour retarder of the specified thickness and permeance is required under all on- or below-grade concrete floors. Concrete floors for resilient floorings should be permanently dry, clean, smooth, structurally sound and free of substances that may prevent adhesive bonding. Surface cracks, grooves, depressions, control joints or non-moving joints and other irregularities should be filled or smoothed with latex patching or a recommended underlayment compound. The surface of the floor should be cleaned by scraping, brushing, vacuuming or any other method. All concrete slabs should be tested for moisture regardless of age or grade level, while all concrete floors should be tested for pH before installing resilient flooring.

Canada’s floor covering magazine \\ 9



Trend toward naturally coloured, touchable hardwood surfaces stronger than ever

If just one word could be used to describe an overall trend that’s here and will gain momentum heading into 2025, it’s texture. While it has been ‘on the fringe’ for years, texture is now a top trend across surfaces for more reasons than its beautiful design interest. From wood floors to carpet, consumers want to see and feel the many ridges, plush piles and rough-hewn surfaces underfoot that add depth and character, but also appeal to their senses.

As there is more blurring between the physical and digital worlds, people’s surroundings have the opportunity to trigger

their senses and root them to the present moment, even for a split second. Noticing textures, similar to scents, sounds and tastes, can enhance well-being in a very insulated, highly distracting world. More than ever, intentionally manufacturing products that provide elements to create these connections to well-being is needed.

There can be no talk about texture without a discussion of nature. Texture naturally occurs outdoors. Nature has been in colour and design trends for the past couple years but it is now leading the way. Growing evidence shows both active and passive con-

tact with nature provides psychological, emotional and social benefits. Reports indicate shorter hospital stays, lower heart rate, reduced stress and decreased cortisol levels. Schools that use forest trees as classrooms see a large increase in focus. More than 60 universities in the United States are writing prescriptions for spending time in nature versus pills for anxiety. All of these benefits add up to designers pulling in elements to connect building users to nature indoors. For flooring, there are more natural-looking options in colour and texture to satisfy consumers and enable them

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to fulfill a deep connection to nature in their own spaces. Not only the aesthetic but the ‘feeling’ it conveys is also important.

Over the past five years, biophilic design has become a hot word in the world of design. Biophilia relates to nature and integrating natural elements into the built environment to create more harmonious, eco-friendly and visually appealing spaces. Many studies of the design principle support the benefits of better focus for learning, mental health and wellness, and increased productivity in a building whether it be a school, hospital, senior living facility or office.

Wood naturally provides many biophilic opportunities to authentically connect nature with its products. In addition to the tactile textures that feel good underfoot and its natural disposition, patterns in wood are also visually engaging. Similar to fractals in biophilic design, these intricate, random patterns can create well-being just by gazing at them. Wood, if sustainably farmed and forested, is one the best products to contribute to well-being in the home. The collinear lines and knotholes that naturally appear in wood should be subtle in a floor so they’re not too distracting, but their appearance authentically connects people to nature.

In addition to the textures and patterns that wood offers, colours are shifting away from cooler greys to walnuts, warm oaks and hickories — truer to nature’s colours. Paint brands are also taking note of this need for a warmer, cozier, more welcoming home, with decreased use of all-white and grey walls, cabinets and countertops in favour of beiges and similar hues. Today’s popular paint colours are pulled from nature: sage, dark greens and deep lake blues allow light to medium tone wood floors to create the contrast seen in nature all the time.

Wood floor colours mimic tree trunks (grey blacks, medium to deep tone browns) and soil like espresso black-browns and almost every version of brown, except yellow-based blonds or browns. Mixed board lengths work well to mimic nature’s randomness.

There is also a tone-on-tone trend that is balanced and ordered, clean cut and restful to the eyes. Adding light to medium tone wood floors adds warmth while still keeping the look minimalistic. Smooth versus wire-brushed finish, dull to medium gloss — it’s all about functionality with ease.

Spaces that need to be clean, geometric and ordered but still warm and not antiseptic achieve that look with the addition of wood. Light to medium tone wood works in these spaces, especially healthcare environments where creating an atmosphere of precision and order is essential to imbuing confidence and calm in patients.

Organic elements, soft, subtle textures and tranquil palettes are anchored with pale to mid-tone woods to create spaces that are more than tranquil — they are rejuvenating and refreshing. Raw, rough-cut and random but softened, rounded and curved. In these types of settings, the design is meant to

engage the senses and increase well-being. The ‘return of the room’ trend that is replacing open concept offers increased spaces for privacy and important delineations between work life and home life. Wood colours are pale pine to deep, dark espresso browns.

Wood is the anchor for the texture and nature trends consumers are craving to achieve the sensorial design and well-being outputs. The true to nature colours, collinear lines, ridges, raw, uneven edges and even knotholes all bring people closer to nature — something everyone could use more of these days.

Dee Schlotter is owner of Dee Schlotter Consulting. She is a colour and design trends forecaster and presenter for the residential and commercial architectural segments. Her industry experience includes nearly 30 years with PPG Industries, much of which she served as senior colour marketing manager for the company’s architectural coatings division in North America. Dee can be reached at

Canada’s floor covering magazine \\ 11
\\ Dundee is a solid wood offering from the Bruce brand that comes in a spectrum of natural colours, from light beige to brown and red. All photos courtesy AHF Products.

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and ambient temperature are all factors that can affect the wood’s patina.

Aside from the patina, the uniqueness of reclaimed wood is enhanced by the surface texture and existence of imperfections in the wood. Saw marks, nail and conduit holes, oxidation marks, stains, knots, wear, weathering, insect holes and cracks all help tell the story behind the previous use of the material. A high amount of character will also usually lead to a floor with a more rustic aesthetic. These marks and the degree in which they occur will affect the appearance and functionality of the floor. How the supplier handles these ‘imperfections’ in terms of grading and classification is extremely important to know as it informs what to expect from the finished product. Manufacturers will allow varying amounts of character marks depending on how they grade and select material. Reviewing physical samples and product pictures is imperative to accurately set expectations with reclaimed wood flooring.

Surface textures like band saw, circular saw or hand-hewn marks will add to a more rustic appearance. These affect functionality of the flooring system, as well. A benefit of a rougher surface is any additional wear and tear that the flooring develops will tend to blend into the existing character. This can be a significant advantage when the flooring is laid in higher traffic areas or when using a softer wood species. The main drawbacks of highly textured flooring are difficulty cleaning and it may need to be refinished further down the line.


Most installation issues for reclaimed wood are identical to a standard wood floor. Proper steps should be taken to acclimatize the wood to the environment prior to installation. Since reclaimed wood floors have a larger amount of aesthetic variability between planks, it makes sense to order slightly more flooring to account for onsite selection and grading. Recommended overage for new wood flooring is usually five to 10 per cent. Consider adding an extra five per cent for reclaimed wood.

Another decision is whether to go with a prefinished flooring or an unfinished one that

\\ For the 2022 Vancouver International Design Show, Hewing Haus and Heritage Lumber partnered to build an office pod constructed with reclaimed wood products. The 108-square-foot unit showcases the versatility of reclaimed wood, which was used in the framing, siding and interior finishing. The eight-inch Douglas fir flooring in a natural finish was milled from glulam beams. Photo courtesy Heritage Lumber.

will be finished on-site. Although prefinishing can be more cost-effective and will likely lead to a quicker install, there are some advantages of site finishing with reclaimed wood flooring. The process allows for a wider range of custom colours and sheens, and the end-user can determine how much texture and character to retain as well as how to address voids in the planks.

The level of on-site sanding will dictate the amount of texture left on the surface of the floor. There may be a specific level of texture and character that works in a space. Site finishing allows sanding and finishing to be fine-tuned to achieve that level.

Voids in flooring planks can be addressed differently depending on the supplier. Onsite finishing allows the installer to either remove the voids by cutting them out or fill the voids with a wood filler or epoxy. This can be much more challenging, if not impossible, to do with prefinished flooring.


Reclaimed wood flooring can be found with a layered, engineered construction. Although the entire thickness of the flooring most likely will not be reclaimed, there are some significant advantages. As with regular engineered flooring, the layered construction addresses stability issues allowing reclaimed wood to be installed in more spaces, including with floating floor systems. Filling of voids is also more straightforward with an engineered product, regardless of whether it is done in the manufacturing process or during on-site finishing.

Selecting reclaimed wood flooring is not merely a design choice; it’s a commitment to sustainable living and an embrace of the rich narratives embedded in each plank. Balancing character and function with the goal of perpetuating a material’s story is an enriching process that allows the consumer to connect to their living space on a deeper level.

Fraser Goldsmith is an experienced sales representative who has spent the last 10 years working in the wood products industry. He previously served as sales and operations manager at Heritage Lumber, a reclaimed wood products supplier based in British Columbia. Heritage Lumber specializes in manufacturing reclaimed wood flooring, wall cladding, lumber and timbers salvaged from deconstructed houses, factories and barns in the Pacific Northwest.

Canada’s floor covering magazine \\ 15


Causes, cures of wood floor sanding marks

Flooring professionals know much skill goes into installing, sanding and finishing wood floors. A properly crafted wood floor is proven to stand the test of time and contributes to the value and beauty of their environments. But there is always potential for something to go wrong like sanding marks left on new floors. Here’s why this may occur and how to remedy the situation.


One of the first sanding marks that can be seen on job sites are waves. Most noticeable on floors that have a wooden substructure, waves are lines that go across the entire room at the same height. These lines are the result of an out-of-balance machine due to vibrations caused by the rotation of the drum. Sanding equipment leaves manufacturing facilities in a balanced state but there is high potential for

this to shift when the machinery is used over time.

To cure waves on strip flooring, run a belt sander or ‘big machine’ at an angle of seven to 15 degrees. For parquet flooring, such as herringbone or finger block, the machine should be run up to 45 degrees. Vibration travels along the boards with the grain. By sanding at an angle, the vibration is pushed against the next board and will be minimized.

To avoid waves in the first place, multi-head machines can be used earlier in the process.


Streaks in wood flooring are deep, isolated, individual sanding lines. While generally observable during the sanding process, they are most evident after pigments and stain are applied to the floor. There are several potential causes of streaks, including a bad sanding belt, damaged or worn-out drum or upper roller unit, and

weight not evenly distributed over the grain on the sanding belt. Isolated pressure points are built up on the drum, upper roller unit or the inside of the belt and then leave impressions on the floor. If a sanding drum hits a nail or staple and takes a chunk of the rubber out that could be reflected on the floor as a streak, too.

To fix streaks, check the sanding drum, upper roller unit and sanding belt for any built-up materials. If discovered, manually clean the roller unit or drum or replace the sanding belt outright. Should no buildup be found, these parts may be damaged.

It is important to examine the flexibility of the sanding drum and upper roller unit. All rubber components, no matter the manufacturer or use, will harden over time and lose their desired flexibility and attributes. Those components must be changed on a regular basis just like car tires, which become brittle over use and have an expiration.

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Chatter, or dish out in floors, is one of the trickiest sanding marks to address simply because there are so many causes, including sanding drum or upper roller fully cured (hardened rubber) or out of balance; buildup on sanding drum or upper roller; bad sanding belt; damaged or worn wheels; buildup on wheels; damaged or worn-out drive belts, pulleys or bearings; and wrong sanding directions. Thankfully, there are certain things to look for to diagnose the cause.

To begin, check the distance between the marks. If there’s a short distance and they are very frequent, the chatter is the result of a high rotation point. Examine the drum, upper roller, drive belts and sanding belts as a first step. If the distances are longer, ap proximately three to four inches between marks, a lower rotation part will be to blame, likely the wheels.

Once the cause has been pinpointed, in spect the individual sanding machine com ponents.

The drum needs to be cleaned and vac uumed out on the inside (balanced to less than one gram each side) on a regular ba sis. Look for damage and try to determine the drum’s age based on flexibility or brit tleness. Confirm that it rotates freely on the sanding shaft.

The upper roller must also be cleaned. Check that there is no buildup and it moves/ro tates freely, compresses and decompresses.

Wheels need to be cleaned frequently and inspected for buildup. Wear to wheels is inev itable, so consistently examine for damage or flat spots and that they rotate freely.

Drive belts must be inspected for build up, uneven wear and cracks. They run left and right on the flanks of the pulley, never on ground. See if the belt is flexible or if it has hardened.

Pulleys and bearings include the drive belt pulley, fan belt pulley and belt tensioner. All should rotate freely and make no noise when doing so. If the opposite occurs, this is an in dicator of worn bearings.

face. Otherwise, any already existing dam age to the floor will be further enhanced.


Drum marks are deep indentations that are approximately the width of the drum itself. Multi-head sanders can help with the re moval of these marks.

The best way to avoid drum marks is sim ply through practice and familiarization with the machine. Always lower and raise the drum in a fluid motion and avoid touching walls when moving forward and backward.

For sanding belts, the seam should be glued tight and the glue line flexible.

Sanding should always be done from left to right with both wheels on the sanded sur

Marc Schulz is head of global sales for Lägler GmbH. Founded in Frauenzimmern, Germany, in 1956, Lägler is the world market leader of floor sanding equipment and the manufacturer of the legendary Hummel belt sander.



Marquetry elevates interior spaces with intricate woodworking practices

Hardwood flooring doesn’t have to be boring. While beautiful by nature, there is so much more that can be done to make it truly shine. That is where marquetry comes in. Marquetry is the art of transforming simple pieces of wood into awe-inspiring decorative flooring patterns.

The process begins with a client consultation. It is here that the foundation for the entire project is laid. Through conversations, a picture begins to emerge, outlining not just the physical space but the stories and interests that define it. Viewing the area, understanding the flow and considering the furniture are all crucial steps in ensuring the final design is not only attractive but harmonious with the client’s lifestyle and aesthetic.

After the initial consultation, the creative process deepens with sketch ideas that are often drawn directly on the floor. This hands-on approach allows clients to visualize the project’s scale and design, ensuring alignment with their vision.

The transition from design to creation involves a meticulous selection of materials, often custom-milled to suit the project’s unique demands. Typically, self-milled three-quarter-inch wood slabs with interesting qualities or character are chosen. The area of the floor is then mapped and measured before the design is transposed onto paper in the actual size.

Assembly in the workshop resembles a puzzle — each piece is crafted and prepared for its place in the larger picture, ready to be brought together in the client’s space. This step is more than just following the lines; it’s about breathing life into every fragment of wood. A bandsaw is used for rough cuts of the threequarter-inch material, ensuring not to cut past crucial lines to maintain the integrity of each piece. A scroll saw, router, grinder and Dremel is employed for detail work.

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Photo courtesy Ourada Designs

The pieces are then sanded to fit tightly with their adjoining neighbours. An oscillating four-inch belt sander, one-inch vertical belt sander, and one-quarterinch and three-quarter-inch oscillating sander are generally used in combination. After sanding to precision, the pieces are temporarily hot-glued together to create the larger design segments. An electric planer is used to flatten any bumps, if necessary.

Prior to installation, the humidity and moisture content of the job site is measured and monitored. Materials are then acclimated to the home environment. Wood should be kiln dry to approximately eight per cent in preparation for installation.

The transition from design to creation involves a meticulous selection of materials, often custommilled to suit the project’ s unique demands.

The main pieces are then carefully placed, creating an elaborate mosaic of colours and textures. The final assembly is hot-glued and if it is big and intricate, it may be placed in a thin puddle of epoxy to ensure it stays

together until it is glued into place onto the floor. Then it is filled, sanded and finished. This phase not only brings the project to life but also marks the moment when a space is truly transformed.

Thomas Ourada is owner of Ourada Designs in Nine Mile Falls, Wash. Ourada Designs provides a creative and innovative approach to hardwood flooring, blending the beauty of the natural wood, interests of the client and flow of a room to create unique floors that can never be duplicated.


The genesis of Ourada Designs’ Moberly Sphere project (pictured top) was the awe-inspiring work of Korean artist Lee Jae-Hyo, whose massive wood sphere sculptures served as inspiration. This initial spark, coupled with collaborative help from Thunderheart Flooring and Signature Custom Flooring, set the stage for the transformation of a mundane rental living room into a canvas for hardwood artistry.

The vision was to create a unique medallion pattern that originated from a central point and radiated outward like branches. This design ambition aimed to forge a stunning 3-D effect, achieving a balance that is as captivating to the eye as it is complex in its execution.

The journey from vision to reality was paved with challenges and innovation. The background field fabrication of the project marked a departure from the familiar for Ourada Designs, venturing into the precision cutting of each board into exacting, long triangles. This technique, although new to the company, was a well-trodden path for Thunderheart Flooring.

The sphere measures 12 square feet and is composed of three repeating patterns to form a circle. More than 200 wood pieces comprise the floor, all hand-cut and shaped with a bandsaw, jigsaw, drill motor with sandpaper bit and an oscillating belt saw. Surrounding the medallion is live edge wood that was scribed into white oak.

The culmination of the project was not just in its physical completion but in the accolades it garnered. The Moberly Sphere was recognized with a 2021 Wood Floor of the Year Award in the best of marquetry/inlay category, presented by the National Wood Flooring Association.

That same year, Ourada Designs also won in the best circular/curved application category for its Seattle Swoosh project (pictured bottom), which received the association’s highest honour, members’ choice, too. The 12-foot by 17-foot flooring installation resides in the dining room of a 1970 split-level home in West Seattle. It was created using multiple species of wood, including maple, white oak, Russian olive, black walnut and wenge, in live edge form and wall-to-wall curves. During installation, Ourada Designs used an electric hand planer to grind down high spots and make the floor generally flat. An open coat sandpaper on the edger was then employed to remove planer marks. A big machine, moving it in different directions, removed the edger marks, starting with 36 grit and working up to 60 and 80 grit. The floor was finished with the Lägler Trio sanding machine to ensure flatness, followed by application of a DuraSeal finish.

Canada’s floor covering magazine \\ 19


Colours influencing tile, stone as seen at TISE

The International Surface Event, known simply as TISE, is one of the most eagerly anticipated events in my yearly calendar. This past January, I was there for two reasons: to explore the latest trends in surface design and to host a colour-related presentation and associated tour of the exhibit hall. When it comes to surfaces for the home, the landscape is often dominated by muted tones and safe choices, resulting in what I call “brown town.” However, as I walked the show floor, I was captivated by a myriad of hues and textures. Companies such as Emser, Riva Spain, Louisville Tile, Arizona Tile, Fabrica and Harcourt Rugs unveiled a stunning array of vi-

brant colour selections, signalling not so much a departure from subdued palettes but an inclusion of colourful options. Witnessing exhibitors’ commitment to pushing boundaries with their product offerings and embracing the unexpected was truly refreshing. From rich jewel tones to earthy neutrals and eye-catching contrasts to subtle gradients, the palette of possibilities is as diverse as it is inspiring.

Delving into trends defining the design landscape in 2024 and beyond, there is a notable shift toward moodier tones, deep earthy shades and striking high-contrast neutrals like black and white.

The revival of lively and vivid colours speaks to a desire for self-expression and personality in interior design. Broody tones, characterized by rich and intense colours like deep blues, forest greens and dramatic purples create a sense of depth and sophistication in living spaces. These hues evoke a feeling of opulence and luxury, transforming rooms into captivating sanctuaries. It is evident the rising popularity of maximalism, with its ‘more is more’ ethos, is amplifying the drama within interior design, allowing for bolder expressions of individuality and creativity to flourish.

Deep earth tones have made a triumphant return, infusing interiors with warmth and natural charm. Shades of terracotta, burnt sienna, warm pinks and ochre bring a sense of groundedness and connection to the earth, inviting inhabitants to embrace the beauty of the natural world within their homes.

The enduring appeal of bold, high-contrast neutrals, such as the timeless pairing of black and white, adds a sense of drama and dynamism to interior design schemes. The stark difference between light and dark creates visual interest and depth, allowing for striking focal points and statement pieces to shine.

Incorporating these colours into interior spaces represents a departure from the safe and predictable and offers an opportunity for originality and self-expression. Whether through accent walls, statement furniture pieces, curated accessories or flooring, both homeowners and designers can infuse rooms with personality and character, reflecting individual tastes and preferences.

Rachel Moriarty is a renowned interior designer celebrated for her expertise in colour. With a profound understanding of hues, shades and palettes, Rachel transforms spaces into vibrant, dynamic environments that captivate the senses. As the founder of Rachel Moriarty Interiors, she continues to redefine the boundaries of colour in design, inspiring clients and peers alike. Rachel can be reached at

20 \\ Spring 2024


Six ceramic, porcelain tile styles to inspire design this year

North America’s largest international tile and stone exhibition and conference has unveiled the dominant tile trends for 2024.

Coverings’ top picks were identified by Alena Capra, owner of Alena Capra Designs and Coverings spokesperson, in collaboration with three international tile associations — Ceramics of Italy, Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association of Spain and the Tile Council of North America.


To complement the raw beauty of contemporary architecture, designers are delivering fresh interpretations of modern cement in porcelain format. Exquisitely coloured and perfectly sized aggregates give these designs a handcrafted concrete look and feel. Beautifully brutalist and understatedly elegant, these creative concrete looks embody modernity, sophistication and the bustling tapestry of urban living.


The world is witnessing and embracing the availability of production-ready versions of full-body porcelain panels. This achievement signifies a momentous milestone as it fulfills a longstanding request from fabricators and specifiers since the mainstream adoption and installation of large-format tiles. These fullbody pieces offer the remarkable qualities of heat, stain and scratch resistance, while being sustainable and free from toxic chemicals. What’s more, manufacturers are turning up the volume on this trend with the look, style and allure of natural stone, spanning many collections mimicking the world’s rarest marble and showcasing evocative amalgamations with bright colours and luminous veins.


When balance and complementary interactions are fleeting, tile makers look to the birthplace of yin-yang and wabi-sabi for inspiration. While ample textile designs have been translated into ceramic renditions, there is one standout repeated by many this year: stick mosaics. Manufacturers are offering their take on this classic

Japanese porcelain style, enhancing new lines with gracefully flowing pottery glazes.


These looks draw inspiration from the magnificent beauty of the Earth’s ancient geological past. Masterpieces of nature like limestone, bluestone and slate are represented with such precision and include characteristics like veining, coal lines and visible fossils.


Ceramic tile companies are looking to the third dimension as the next frontier of design. New collections feature a plethora of 3-D tiles from fluted

and protruding surfaces to reliefs with explosive patterns. As manufacturers work toward producing tiles that look and feel like natural stone, marble prints are now paired with low relief veining for an incredibly realistic appearance.


From misty forests to overlapping sheets of corrugated metal, tile manufacturers are producing a range of mind-blowing optical illusion effects on porcelain. Given the technical benefits of porcelain, designers can use these digitally printed tiles to their advantage, creating floors of a spa covered in grooved wood-look planks.

Canada’s floor covering magazine \\ 21
\\ TOP: The ceaseless ripples, swirls and patterns that wind creates on water and grasslands is the inspiration behind the Windy collection by Nendo. Photo courtesy Decoratori Bassanesi. BOTTOM: Indah by Vitacer is a porcelain tile with marble pattern that is well-suited for both living and business premises. Photo courtesy Vitacer.


Warm and versatile, Toronto home’s contemporary design breathes opulence into everyday life

Located in a well-established pocket of Toronto defined by traditional architecture, this project set out to create an effortlessly luxurious living space for a family of five. To achieve this goal, the design combines the best of both worlds by transitioning from the classic exterior of Richard Wengle’s architecture to a deeply modern, relaxed and functional interior.

The homeowners wanted an urban refuge — contemporary, almost minimalist in character. In order to accommodate the family’s busy routines and easy camaraderie, austerity was avoided in favour of sophisticated warmth. Natural materials like elegant stone, textured woods and luscious fabrics seamlessly integrate with a crisp colour palette.

Resilient hardwood flooring in the dining room sets the stage for the casual gatherings the family prefers, opening up the space to enjoy each other’s company and welcome guests as friends. It also grounds the carefully crafted balance between the hand-carved plaster wall sculpture and dramatic modern chandelier, proving to be the perfect canvas for a functional yet representative room.

In the primary ensuite, Nordic Grey marble from Ciot gives the bathroom floors an elegant spa-like feel. The same stone is used on vanity surfaces, keeping lines clean and uncluttered. Soft yet durable, the strong marble unfurls its natural delicate white

veining with hints of aqua throughout the space. The gentle curve of the bathtub and light drapery soothe the eye in this peaceful composition.

Another bold design choice with a unique flooring solution is tucked away just off the main hallway. A concealed entrance opens to a dramatic, speak-easy style hidden bar, its glass floors looking onto the wine room just below. Black metal racking with integrated, concealed light runs the full length of the wine room’s height and appears to pierce through the floors into the bar itself.

Throughout the home, from the floorings to each thoughtful detail, the design story is one of modern simplicity. Its patterns and structures follow the rhythms and routines of the family’s everyday life, imbuing the ordinary with a sense of opulence and the ease it deserves. It is, quite literally, built for living large.

Jeffrey Douglas has been the owner and principal of Toronto-based Douglas Design Studio since its inception in 1995. His diverse team and strong aesthetic have been recognized with a number of design awards from the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario, Society of British and International Interior Design and Interior Designers of Alberta. More importantly, his designs make a lasting impact on the everyday lives of his clients, enriching them with beauty and quiet luxury.

22 \\ Spring 2024 THEN & NOW
Photos courtesy Patrick Biller

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