IIDEXCanada Blog

It Would be Wood

It Would be Wood

Every designer inevitably comes to a crossroads on a project where a decision to select a synthetic material finish over a natural finish must be made. Many of these decisions relate to the desire of achieving a wood finish, but financial or environmental constraints often preclude the selection of a natural wood. Up until recently, imitating the warmth of wood in various types of applications was out of the question: few products were typically available in the marketplace that could offer a convincing simulated wood-grain finish without appearing kitschy or cheap. In today’s market, an increasing number of choices are now able to replicate natural wood finishes, specifically in the areas of wall and floor coverings. For example, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) revolutionized the flooring industry beginning a decade ago with wood finish options able to replicate wood surfaces in not only colour but through convincing textures. IIDEXCanada exhibitors or sponsors like AltroTORLYSCFP Cladding & Decking, Beaulieu,   Interface and Stevens Omni have made tremendous inroads in this product area. Through the advent of 3D-printing technology, custom signage can now replicate wood grain and patterns for various clients, as PCL Graphics has explored. Even in the areas of ceramic tiles, other companies like Materials Inc. and Bedrosians have achieved significant inroads in the area of wood-grain finishes.

And although it seemed nearly revolutionary a few years ago to include phenolic panels with synthetic wood, the use of such decorative, high-pressure compact laminates (HPLs), manufactured with a mix of wood-based fibres and thermosetting resins continues to evolve—in both exterior and interior applications.

Utilizing varying manufacturing process, building product manufacturers such as AL13 or Dizal have developed exterior building applications that incorporate synthetic wood finishes. Dizal applies a high-definition 3-D digital inkjet printing onto a primed aluminum surface to recreate a wide range of wood textures and colours which is then protected with a heavy UV coating to prevent the photographic film from fading over time. AL13 offers a range of wood-grain finishes—and can even match colour samples in some instances—which are then applied over their aluminum panel systems using either a lithographically printed polymer-based system or a powder-coated wood-grain finish process, both of which are protected from peeling, chipping or fading over time.

As 2017 continues, IIDEXCanada will certainly be featuring lots of real wood products and we will continue to assemble more exhibitors with synthetic wood offerings as they appear on the market in a range of applications—and budgets—as manufacturing processes and design challenges continue to demand innovation from manufacturers. Wood--in all its shapes and sizes--will continue to be a significant theme for us as we get ready for our popular IIDEXWoodshop exhibition which will feature original designs featuring urban wood.

Image: Amazaque Blanc, courtesy of DIZAL