This floor features solid white oak in a custom circular pattern, which features a nautical compass within a compass. The installation was both nail-down and glue-down. The floor is job-site finished, using a water-based surface finish. Installation by DM Hardwood Designs in Farmington, New Mexico. Photo courtesy of the National Wood Flooring Association ( /

This floor features handscraped reclaimed heartpine in the main field. The medallion is custom-made and features numerous exotic and domestic species. The floor is job-site finished. Installation by DM Hardwood Designs, Farmington, New Mexico. Photo courtesy of National Wood Flooring Association (

For months now, the media has been bombarding us all with messages about the dismal state of the U.S. economy. There is no doubt that times are tough for many businesses in our industry right now, and the reasons are fairly obvious. Many U.S. consumers are paying more for everyday essentials – items like food, clothing, and gasoline – which leaves less money available for discretionary spending. Compounding the problem is that many people also are facing potential layoffs and work cutbacks, which makes them more cautious about nonessential spending. At the same time, the downturn in the U.S. housing market has left many homeowners unable to sell their home, or even to afford the one that they currently live in. For the majority of U.S. consumers, however, the economic situation is more of an inconvenience than a life-altering event. Most of us simply will choose to stay in our homes longer and to eat out less often than we have in recent years. Still, despite all the gloom and doom, consumers are spending.

This dining room floor features 1,000+ square feet of solid, satin finish American Cherry, with a Maple and Cherry border. The floor is manufacturer finished. Installation by Alberta Hardwood Flooring, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Photo courtesy of the National Wood Flooring Association (

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spent $470.4 billion during the 2008 holiday season alone. Even in a down economy, that is a lot of consumer dollars being spent on goods and services, and smart retailers are working hard to get their share of the pie.

Because many consumers are choosing to stay in their homes longer, many are remodeling their homes or making repairs that they previously might have put off knowing they would soon be selling it. The bottom line, however, is that people still want their homes to look their very best, and for many of them, this means they will be spending some money to spruce things up a bit. If flooring is one of the items your customers will be updating, you want to be ready to meet their needs, while potentially increasing your sales by introducing them to high-profit items like borders and medallions.

Today’s homeowners want their homes to be a reflection of their own unique styles and personalities, and current design trends encourage unique touches that make a house one-of-a-kind. With hardwood floors, you can help your customers achieve a customized look, while increasing your sales, with borders and medallions.

This floor features solid hand-scraped black walnut plank in a custom basket weave parquet pattern with granite inlays. The installation was both nail-down and glue-down. The floor is job-site finished, using a water-based surface finish. Installation by DM Hardwood Designs, Farmington, New Mexico. Photo courtesy of the National Wood Flooring Association ( /

Borders are a simple wood flooring upgrade that essentially creates a frame effect in a particular room or area. In many cases, a wood flooring border will include a wood species that contrasts to the wood appearing in the main area of the room. For example, a family room with a traditional installation of strip white oak, which is a medium colored wood, might include a border outlining the room in a contrasting species such as Brazilian cherry, which is a much darker species of wood. In other cases, the border may include a complex pattern or design that incorporates multiple wood species to highlight the main field. Yet another option could be using a border to frame the seating area in a formal dining room or the center island in an eat-in kitchen. The possibilities are endless, and are not limited to wood only. Many borders now include intricate patterns incorporating multiple wood species, stone, granite, marble, brass, copper, stainless steel, nickel and other metals. These mixed media borders are increasingly popular with consumers, and are available in both unfinished and prefinished varieties, or can be custom installed on the job site to create a totally unique pattern and look. Best of all, adding a border does not really require significantly more labor during installation, but can increase your profits by offering a custom installation effect.

This floor features solid ash plank, with aluminum feature strips. The installation was both nail-down and glue-down. The floor is job-site finished, using a wax finish. Installation by Seabaugh Custom Floors, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Photo courtesy of the National Wood Flooring Association ( /

Medallions are another upgrade option gaining attention with consumers. Medallions are design elements that often are installed in the main field of the floor, typically in areas such as foyers and entryways, but in other areas of the home as well. Medallions can incorporate multiple wood species, and other mixed media, such as stone, metal and leather. Prefinished medallions can be purchased directly from the manufacturer and routed into existing floors will minimal mess and disruption to your customer’s home. For more customized looks, such as a family crest or a design created to fit a specific space, a professional wood flooring installer can work with you and your customers to select the species, style and options that will best meet their needs. Again, many can be installed with little additional labor. Many manufacturer finished medallions come with templates that allow you to simply route out the existing flooring and drop in the new medallion. Installation is easy, but can add to your profits due to the customized final product.

In many cases, custom borders and medallions can be created using waste wood from your other wood flooring projects. Because the materials for these projects have already been paid for, you will have no additional out-of-pocket expense for the wood flooring materials, which helps to increase your overall profit on these kinds of jobs. Medallions also have the added benefit of being able to create them off-site in your shop. This way, you will have less mess to clean up on the job site, and will not have the added expense of transporting and setting up numerous tools and equipment at your customer’s home. Because it will save you time, it also will save you money.

There are a wide variety of borders and medallions available from manufacturers that can be retrofitted into your customer’s existing floors, and you are sure to find something that will fit your customer’s needs and budget. Creating a custom border or medallions provides you with unlimited possibilities, both in terms of creativity and expense. To see some of the many possibilities offered by borders and medallions, visit Beautiful Floors under the All About Wood Floors section of the NWFA’s consumer web site at Then, see for yourself how simple upgrades like borders and medallions can have a significant impact on your bottom line.