Story at a glance:
- Kährs’ innovative alternative flooring fills a void in the industry.
- Kährs’ LVTs can look like wood or stone but are scratch- and dent-resistant.
- They’re also easy to maintain and easy to install.
For more than 160 years Kährs has been innovating in the world of wood. Founded in 1857 in Sweden, the company first began as a shop providing wooden objects like toys and spinning wheels, and in 1941 they invented and patented the first engineered wood floor, shifting their focus to the flooring industry.
Today Kährs has become a leading manufacturer of engineered floors, supplying its products to more than 70 countries and offering solutions for projects that need wood flooring, resilient flooring, and LVT flooring for both the residential and commercial markets.
“We’re a pretty diverse company when it comes to our service offerings today,” says Sean Brennan, the US president of Kährs. Being in business for more than 160 years, the company has paved the way for the flooring industry while also keeping the environment in mind. For example, Kährs introduced the first ever glue less locking system and solvent-free finish, eliminating potentially harmful adhesives from entering your home.
While Kährs’ world still is very much centered in wood flooring and celebrating its sustainability, even they know wood isn’t always feasible for a project. These are just some of the alternative flooring options architects and designers can choose from today.
Luxury Vinyl Tiles
Luxury vinyl tiles (LVTs) offer the look of wood flooring but are made from non-wood materials and sealed with a ceramic coating to make them even more durable and water-resistant. This alternative flooring is a great option for high traffic spaces and areas exposed to water and humidity changes.
“It really developed more out of functionality and the fact that it can be installed in so many different areas,” Brennan says of Kährs LVTs’ durability and longevity. They’re designed to last and work well in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry spaces, and more. “It’s a very functional floor. You can put it into a lot of areas where, frankly, you might not want to put a wood floor.”
LVTs can be installed using glue just like a wood floor, but Kährs also offers an array of glue-free Click joint options for easier, quicker installation. Their LVTs also come in wood, stone, and herringbone designs with sound dampening qualities.
Kährs’ LVTs are quick to install and can fit into virtually any design—residential or commercial. “Especially for a building owner, LVT is a very easy product to put in because of its low maintenance. And it’s hard to damage,” Brennan says. “It’s a good alternative to carpet. It’s easier to clean, it has some water-resistant features, and can be less expensive than other flooring alternatives.”
Kährs’ LVTs are phthalate-free, and the Click options eliminate the use of glue that may contain harmful VOCs, but PVC-Free Enomer® takes sustainability even further. Enomer is a flooring material invented by Kährs Upofloor, made from natural minerals and pure polymers—free from PVC, plasticizers, phthalates, halogens, chlorines, and heavy metals.
The Kährs Upofloor Zero and Xpression ranges of commercial flooring are created with Enomer and can be seen in hospitals, offices, schools, and health care facilities all over the world. “You can put this anywhere you put a vinyl floor and there’s absolutely no harmful chemicals or PVC present in the product,” Brennan says.
The low-VOC Enomer flooring promotes healthy indoor air quality and is also resistant to bacteria growth, making it more hygienic and easier to clean. In the Enomer resilient plank range, Xpression, Kährs offers wood-inspired designs, and in the Enomer Zero sheet and tile range, Kährs offers a chip-design in a rainbow of colors—all with the durability that makes these products a perfect fit for high-traffic residential spaces as well as schools, hospitals, and hospitality. It stands up to scratching and dirt, is stain-resistant, and offers strong slip-resistance, too.
Quartz & Aware Flooring
Kährs Upofloor’ Quartz collections are popular in schools, among other markets. Made from quartz sand, plastics, and minerals, nearly 100% of the unused materials in these tiles can be recycled and put back into production, same as the Kährs Upofloor Zero products. Cost-effective Quartz also works well in heavily trafficked areas and is low maintenance. Their various styles can be customized to fit any commercial space.
Aware is the newest Kährs collection, coming to the US in 2023. This durable, bio-based alternative flooring is made using reclaimed, recycled, and natural fibers. “It takes components that work really well for an LVT, it takes components that work really well for a wood floor, it combines everything together, and it’s very easy to install,” Brennan says.
Cork and wood are its main ingredients, and its natural cushioning properties make it a dream to walk on. Designers can choose from nine colors. The floor is as easy to install as it is to uninstall with Kährs’ standard locking joint.
The Benefits of Veneer-Wood Flooring
Veneer’s thin wood layering makes it another strong option for sustainable flooring. Kährs’ veneer-wood floors, the Life Collection, are just seven millimeters thick and consist of a one-millimeter hard wood surface on top of a high-density fiberboard core. The layering and dense core make the floors stable while standing up to seasonal humidity.
Kährs’ Life Collection comes in many designs, from light coconut cream to deep brown cocoa bean, working anywhere you might consider a standard hardwood floor. Kährs Life can be floated or glued-down.
Kährs recently found a way to create an even more stable, denser version of their veneer-wood. “It’s so paper thin that when you adhere it to an HDF (high-density fiberboard) and add our proprietary Kährs finish, it’s suitable for commercial as well as residential use because it’s so hard and so dense,” Brennan says. “We’ve installed it in multifamily settings, major hotels, and some other commercial settings because it performs very well.”
Today Kährs continues to innovate both in the realm of wood and alternative flooring. Wood helps to naturally regulate temperature in a room and is free from plastics and other harmful materials. Understanding how important forests are to our ecosystem, Kährs is actively engaged with forestry organizations and other NGOs to further sustainable reforestation. Kährs’ innovations continue to push the industry forward as they’ve developed methods to reduce wood waste. The company maintains many environmental certifications and offers collections composed of recycled materials.
“We continue to develop products that utilize less raw materials but that are considered sustainable, produced in the right way, and contribute to reducing the carbon footprint in the world,” Brennan says. “We’re going to put a lot of our energy into developing products that the A&D community wants visually but that also checks the box on sustainability.”