It’s hard to reconcile sustainability with the current popularity of exotic wood flooring, but Armstrong has come up with a process that offers the rich look of exotic woods without depleting the rain forest.
Armstrong’s Exotic Fusion engineered hardwood flooring is created from four abundant domestic species: maple, mountain elm, ash, and birch. Instead of using stain, the wood is caramelized using a thermal treatment in which veneers are fumed in an enclosed chamber and dried at high temperatures. Slight changes in time and temperature produce colors and distinctive grains similar to those found in tropical woods. Ash becomes Nile Shade Tree; birch is baked into Madagascar Magnolia or Zanzibar Spice; mountain elm becomes Bali Heritage or Patagonian Shadow; and maple is disguised as Banyan Mahogany, Cypress Grove, or Olivewood Harvest.
The factory-finished 1/2-in.-thick planks are 51/4 in. wide and have microbeveled edges and ends to minimize unevenness between planks. Through-color construction hides scratches and gouges, and ensures that unfinished wood is not exposed. The urethane finish has a 25-year residential warranty.
The planks can be floated or glued. (Armstrong gives Exotic Fusion a DIY level of intermediate.) Samples are available from the Armstrong website.