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Latest news from Kite Flooring

Dark or Light Flooring – Which one to choose?

Selecting the right wood colour is a big decision.

If you’re trying to choose between light, dark, or any other colour of wood flooring, there are two main factors we consider; the style of the room, and the light in the room.

Style of the Room
Starting from scratch and redecorating the whole room gives you the widest range of choice on flooring.

If you’re keeping your existing furniture and the floors are new, it is very important to think of the whole scope of the room with both options of dark and light flooring. We recommend not choosing a floor that matches your existing furniture; it will make the floor and furniture compete for attention, instead of complementing each other.

We find that light wood floors work best in a room with dark and heavy furniture – the contrast helps create a light and modern look.

On the other hand, dark wood floors work best with neutral, light-toned furniture and walls – they create a warmer look.

Other colours, such as Greys, or Natural Oak finishes, sit somewhere in the middle (which perhaps explains why they are so popular).

Finally, colour can be used in your design scheme, with both light or dark flooring, as long as you follow the same rules as above; lighter colours with darker floors and vice versa.

Light or dark floors.

Size of the Room
Light wood floors often work best if you are trying to make a smaller room look bigger. They create a more spacious feel as they refract the natural light around your space

Dark wood floors, on the other hand, make a room feel smaller. They work best in large, bright rooms, where the natural light washes across the floorboards. This also allows you to see the details of the floor, such as the grains and knots, giving your space character.

Be bold with colour.

If you need more information or have any further questions on floor colour, please let us know on info@kite-flooring.com. We know how important it is to make the right choice, as choosing the right floor finish, can make or break your design scheme.

Flooring strategy for property professionals – Case Study

When we launched our business in 2018, we were surprised by the number of flooring strategies, even from professional floor buyers. Often these were not thought through; they were either price-led, “what’s your cheapest engineered wood floor?” or they were born out of a relationship or product a client had previously used. 

Key questions which buyers struggled with included –

  1. When to use laminate and when to use engineered wood? Should they use Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT)?
  2. What colours should they use? Darker finishes, light or natural oak tones?
  3. Should they use straight-boards or patterned floors like Chevron or Herringbone? 
  4. Who should do the fitting? A specialist flooring contractor? Or a building contractor?

Often they would forget the service aspects of supply; so, how and when it should be quoted and delivered and how they would specify additional extras such as underlay or transition bars.

One of our clients is a business called flyp (https://flyp.co/). flyp works with property vendors to renovate their homes. It’s a revolutionary business model that involves no upfront commitment from the vendor. flyp funds the renovation of the property, which is typically done over 10 days and then relaunches it to the market. Whilst the property is being marketed, they monetise it through short-lets which funds a good part of the renovation. When it comes to selling, they typically achieve a 10% uplift in the sales price, with 95% of homes being under offer in two weeks. It’s an attractive business model; the vendor gets a sold property, for a price they are happy with, flyp makes revenue from the short-let income and the uplift in the sales price. Key to flyp’s success is the speed, cost, and ultimately finished product of a property; they need to make buyers fall in love with the homes they work on and they claim this happens within “the first seven seconds” of a viewing!. 

Flooring is a key part of flyp’s strategy, as inevitably, many properties need a flooring upgrade. To help answer some of the questions our clients have struggled with, we thought we’d look at their strategy; 

What flooring do they use?

flyp uses a blend of laminate and engineered wood. The laminate is hard-wearing, often coming with a lifetime residential guarantee and flyp opt for light coloured, straight board finishes. This allows them to contrast feature walls and bold coloured furniture.

The Kilburn Retreat 

Peach walls contrasting with the grey sofa. Bloom Light Natural Laminate Flooring.

The Kilburn Retreat

The heart of Fulham 

Laminate flooring, contrasted with bold feature walls. 

The heart of Fulham

In prime areas, flyp opts for straight board, engineered wood. Whilst Laminate is great, engineered wood has a deeper colour and the texture of real wood feels more grainy. Moreover, buyers of these properties expect a prime specification to sit with the price tag. Again lighter colours are chosen to contrast with flyp’s bold colour choices. The boards are either rustic, so with knots, or have a slight texture to them.

flyp doesn’t go for the “cheapest engineered wood”. This is a common strategy from some property professionals. There are cheaper engineered wood products in the market, such as lacquered, “three-strip” boards, but in the flyp designers’ view, they don’t have the depth of colour that a slightly more premium engineered board has. For them, you either opt for the light oiled, engineered wood boards, or the cheaper laminate.

Bermondsey Square Escape

190mm, 15mm wide engineered wood board. Rustic grade. Our Lewis finish from the Newington Range.

Bermondsey Square Escape

Queensway Escape

Lewis Textured – Here a slightly textured finish was used to provide a contrast with the wood paneling. This is perhaps our favourite floor.

Queensway Escape

What about Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT)?

LVT tiles are a great product. They’re quick to fit, realistic, and virtually indestructible. But so is a good quality laminate floor. There are benefits to LVT; such as it’s water-resistant, it gives off less sound when walked on, and can be fitted without underlay. But in flyp’s use case, these advantages don’t outweigh the more premium price point. For flyp, it makes sense to either simply install a floor that just works, the laminate, or a floor that will wow the buyer; the engineered wood. 

What about the supply chain?

For flyp, time is of the essence. Every day spent renovating a property, is a day of missed rental income. For this reason, they need to choose reliable floors that are quick to fit and can be delivered quickly, at specific times. They also need to make sure that when the floors are delivered, there is a sufficient quantity, and that all the accessories needed, such as underlay, beading, door bars, and trims are delivered at the same time.

It doesn’t work for them to have products delivered through larger online providers; not only can they not fulfil the delivery commitments, but they also rely on the client or contractor to provide measurements and an inventory of extras. Getting this information can take time, and slow down the process. 

In terms of fitting, the floors have to be easy to fit as the building contractors do the fitting; so no chevron or herringbone. Also, as fitting the floor is normally one of the last tasks to carry out, it is more efficient for the building contractor to arrange this, rather than flyp having to coordinate with further trades. Of course, with any building project, plans change, so the supplier needs to be constantly in touch with the contractor, making sure the floor is only delivered when they are ready. 

In Summary

So with flyp the strategy started with range, “We worked with Kite to choose floors to help buyers fall in love with our renovations, at a price point that worked for our business model”. Jess Knight, Head of Design for flyp. 

But after that, the strategy was about minimising renovation time. This meant fast lead times, site surveys, and flexible, timed delivery slots.

Combining these factors meant flyp had a flooring strategy they could scale.

All images courtesy of flypwww.flyp.co – and their sister business, Stay Beyond – https://staybeyond.com/.

What flooring Interior Designers are choosing this Summer…

As with many businesses, we’ve seen a significant slowdown over recent months. But fortunately, as lockdown has eased, we’ve seen business pick up, and now we’re hoping for a busy Summer. As we’ve dealt with before, choosing your new floor can be a scary; there are so many options, the tendency is to go for the safer “natural wood” option. At Kite, we’re lucky to work with a number of bold designers, who set the trends for 2020 and beyond. So what are they choosing for their flooring options?

  1. Darker finishes

We had so many enquiries when we launched our business about darker finishes we developed our own darker colour scheme. As you can see from the images, darker wood creates warmth within a room. Contrasted against white walls, a dark floor can also make a room feel larger. Often people are nervous about going for a dark finish, but remember, in most rooms you have rugs and other items of furniture, which create contrast. Our finishes come with both a satin and rustic look.

Dark finish, with Satin texture.

This product can be viewed within our Newington Range – https://www.kite-flooring.com/our-floors/engineered-wood/newington-range/

2. Parquet boards, again in a dark finish.

Again this creates warmth, and contrasted with white walls, makes the room feel bigger. The most common forms of Parquet, are Chevron and Herringbone, and both can stretch the appearance of a room; if parquet is laid widthways, the room feel wider, lengthways, the room feels longer. Parquet also makes a design statement with your floor. We love the way this Chevron floor has been used in the Hoxton Hotel, Paris.

Dark finished Chevron in the Hoxton Hotel, Paris

This product is part of our Bespoke flooring collection. Please contact us for a sample.

3. Wide, long boards

As a minimum, our clients have been requesting a 19cm width board, but we’ve also had a number of requests for wider boards, sometimes up to 23cm. Wider boards are normally specified for larger properties with high ceilings, but we’re also seeing them specified by designers, in smaller new-build apartments as well. Here is an example, from one of our manufacturing partners, with a wide board in a new build apartment –

Wide, long boards in a new-build apartment

Almost all our products are available in varying widths.

4. Three strip floor wood floors can become a feature…

Whilst not in our core range, we also offer a three-strip engineered product (these floors have three strips of wood on a single plank). These are often the cheapest form of engineered wood and are popular with Developers (it’s engineered wood, at the cheapest price!?….). With some products, you can barely see the strips, however, when part of a Mid-Century scheme, the strips can be accentuated, and like parquet, can become a feature. Here it is looking suitable retro, with a Mid-Century chair.

A three strip, natural oak board.

For advice, samples and pricing on three strip boards, or any of the other products listed here, contact us at info@kiteflooring.com.

Kite flooring to supply artificial grass

Like many businesses, over the last few weeks, we’ve experienced significant challenges. But we’ve also been inspired by how businesses are successfully pivoting to adjust to new ways of working. 

This period of reflection (with a little homeschooling thrown in…) has led us to developing our product range. One area we’ve seen an increase in enquiries for is the provision of artificial grass. This is no surprise given i) the amount of time we’ve been spending at home, ii) artificial grass is surprisingly easy to fit, and importantly, iii) landscapers can work within the self-distancing requirements set out by Public Health England.

At Kite, like our other flooring solutions, we have access to high-quality products direct from manufacturers. These manufacturers are still working during the crisis, having made the required adjustments to trade safely, and also have significant amounts of excess stock, which we’ve been able to secure at a discount. 

We’ve adopted a curated range with five products, from entry-level through to premium, all of which will be sold under a newly created Rapid Grass brand – http://www.rapid-grass.co.uk.

Here you can view products and request samples. There’s also a fitting guide. Our best value product is the Vineyard range (products of a similar specification can be found for 50% more online).

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and we’re proud our grass is already being sold in a leading South Wales building merchant. We’ve also been appointed as provider of choice to three of the largest landscapers in South Wales. 

To celebrate our launch, we’re offering a 35% discount on certain products, simply use the code SPRING35, on check out.

For more information please contact Kris or Ed, on sales@rapid-grass.co.uk

Here’s a recent install from Kite. Our landscapers have no problem self-isolating in the Brecon Beacons!

When off-the-shelf just won’t do; customising flooring specifications to meet your needs.

At Kite, we believe in a curated range and our finishes cover almost all every scenario, from rustic to contemporary, from straight boards to patterned. But we also know that sometimes standard specifications need to be adjusted. For example, sometimes an extra-wide or long board is needed. Sometimes the thickness of the board needs to be adjusted to fit with the structure of the property. Or, sometimes, a design professional has a specific budget they need to work to, and the product needs to be tailored accordingly.

We had an example of this recently with a Developer in Surrey. As is always the case with a project, flooring is one of the last products to be installed. Unfortunately, this project had run over budget, and there was no budget left to install the floor that had been previously specified. Inevitably, plenty of stress ensued for the contractor, as a solution was searched for. At Kite, we were able to match the product originally specified, but reduce the thickness of both the top layer and the board, thereby reducing the spend. This was then signed off by the architect. This brought the project back within budget.

We also had another project recently, where a Residential client wanted a 4mm top layer, on our natural oak flooring. Again, we were able to adjust our product accordingly, to meet the client’s wishes.

Bespoke, isn’t everything; we sell more products in standard sizes, as they are generally cheaper. But, if your project has a specific requirement, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll likely have the solution.  

Help! I need a wood floor…

Picture a family, call them the Grant family (not their real name). They’ve decided they want to fit an engineered wood floor in their home. A great decision! Their fairly conservative; they want a natural wood finish which is low maintenance but, as with any wood floor, it will be a big investment. They want to get it right (this scenario is playing out in hundreds of homes right now).

The Grant’s know what they want; an engineered wood floor in a natural finish. They go to the local flooring shop. Pretty quickly they’ll see something they like, perhaps our Whitstable range, in Natural Oak. Decision made!

Whitstable – Natural Oak – Up close and personal.

But then they’ll be confronted by 1,000s of more options. Do they want Lacquered or Oiled? Easy enough, but how about Matt Lacquered, Brushed, Hand-Scraped, Charred, Sawn, Smoked, Aged, Plained or Burned. And the colour? There are 100s of versions of natural oak. And what about the grade of the wood? Do they want knots or not? Or something in between?

They will then discover that not all engineered wood is equal. The middle or “core” can be made of different materials. Sometimes it’s plywood, sometimes birch and ply and sometimes HDF (High-Density Fibreboard). And what about the top layer? Should it be 2.5, 3, or 6mm? And what size should the boards be? Long or short, thick or thin? Ahhhhhhhh

This process will send the Grants into a spin. Samples will be ordered from multiple sources. They’ll spend hours trawling websites to find that elusive product that they’re sure exists, but they’re not sure what it looks like. 100s of samples will be laid on the floor to compare with furniture. Many photos will be taken. Friends opinions will be asked, who will squint at photos, struggling to tell the difference between products. This process will go on for weeks, maybe months.

Finally, they will pull out the Whitstable, Natural Oak sample, the one from the very beginning. This is probably sitting beneath their junk mail in the corner of the kitchen that nobody clears out. They’ll decide that that this was probably the best after all and will order the floor. And never think of it again.

To help make this process as easy as possible, Kite offer a curated range. We have a high-quality floor for almost every taste and budget. And, if you’re looking for a natural oak floor, we suggest you simply order our Whitstable Natural Oak and save yourself the hassle.

We’re taking orders on info@kite-flooring.com 🙂

Flooring strategy for residential property professionals

At Kite, whilst much of our work is with consumers, we also work alongside residential property professionals looking for a flooring strategy that will deliver the best returns. In Lettings, the factors to consider are i) minimising upfront spend, ii) ensuring the features of the product fit the use case, iii) maximising lifespan, and iv) giving sufficient “wow” factor. For Sales, we give “wow factor” more weighting, but the other factors are broadly similar.

i) Minimising upfront spend

This is generally the starting point for investors. But, remember, flooring is not simply based around product cost. Fitting should also be factored in, plus additional materials. Certain products, such as those with click systems, are easier to fit, other products are harder, such as Chevron or Herringbone engineered wood. Also, some products will require underlay, others will have it built-in. Get the full cost, before making a decision.

ii) Ensuring the features of the product fit the use case

Every product has features and benefits, as well as scenarios where they’re not suitable. For example, wood products and most laminate are not suitable for wet areas such as bathrooms, and solid wood floors are not suitable for use with underfloor heating. Acoustic properties should also be considered; vinyl products will minimise sound transfer in new-build flats, and if laminate or wooden floors are used, extra precaution should be taken with high-density underlay. In some leasehold flats the freeholder will even specify the type of underlay that should be used. 

iii) Maximising lifespan

The flooring industry is very good at putting long warranties on products and then creating small print to ensure it’s almost impossible to ever claim! However, these warranties can still be used as a guide for durability. For most use cases, 10 to 15 years is sufficient, it is certainly not worth paying a premium for longer from an investment perspective. Some Luxury Vinyl Tiles come with a lifetime guarantee!

What is relevant is how the product performs when stressed or damaged. For example, an engineered wood floor will always struggle to withstand stilettos or a sofa being dragged across it. Vinyl or Laminate will barely mark. In the Private Rental Sector, the reality is tenants won’t maintain the floor with the same care as an owner-occupier, so a more resilient product will prevent deposit disputes at the end of tenancy.

iv) Giving sufficient “wow” factor

At Kite, we obviously love floors, but sometimes products just need to work. On the flip side, for certain Sales markets, a Herringbone or Chevron floor could deliver the “wow” factor to make the sale. At Kite, we can provide entry-level laminate for affordable rentals, that will last for years, be fitted quickly, and will deliver more than enough “wow” factor to attract suitable tenants. We also have trained carpenters that are able to fit the most complex of wooden floors in prime residence. 

For advice on the best flooring solution for your next project, please contact info@kite-flooring.com. We’re a UK wide full-service operation and can quote any property in the UK within 72 hours and normally fit within two weeks. 

East London showroom and partnership launch

We’re delighted to announce that from today Kite’s engineered wood ranges will be on display and available for purchase at Kent and London, a premium Interior Design showroom, in Shoreditch, East London.

When we launched Kite we knew that for high-end product, customers needed to view it in person. But our curated ranges didn’t sit alongside a traditional flooring shop – with their rows and rows of look-alike samples. We also knew that floors are more exciting and easier to choose when accessorised with high quality products.

Founded by Luke Ellis, Kent and London specialise in bespoke furniture and kitchens made in Whitstable, Kent. In 2016, they launched their showroom in London and now host some of East London’s most exciting brands, plus other talented European exporters. 

Brands that Kite will sit alongside include; Floor Story– East London’s friendliest rug dealer, Marrakech Design, a Swedish company specialising in encaustic cement tiles, Corston Architectural Detail, MATCHIMATCHI lampshades, Studio Ore, who make handcrafted and hand finished brass taps, showers and bathroom fittings, Kast Concrete basins, and Vitamin Living.

Kite will be showcasing three ranges at the showroom, Kent – a geometric range (think Chevron and Herringbone); London – a premium, hand-scraped, rustic option; and Whitstable – a lacquered, flat board, each with a range of colour options. These have been handpicked by Luke and his team to be both flexible and complement the other products in the showroom. 

Kent and London will also be offering the Kite fitting service, giving customers access to high-quality fitters from Wales. One of our teams recently completed their showroom installation, a highly-technical fitting with three different floors, a new sub-floor, and numerous intricate woodcuts. 

Speaking of the recent partnership, Luke Ellis, founder of Kent and London, said, “We want our customers to be inspired when they visit our showroom and flooring is a key part of that. We couldn’t be happier with our new floors and the chosen ranges”. 

Ed Grant, co-founder of Kite, said “Our partnership with Kent and London not only gives our customers access to our products, it also allows us to be part of an exciting ecosystem that introduces property and design professionals to independent, creative brands. This ultimately helps them differentiate their projects, maximising returns.”

Visit us at 5 Hackney Road, London, E2 7NX, we’re open 7 days a week, from 10am.

Kent and Londonhttps://kentandlondon.co.uk/

Floor Storyhttps://www.floorstory.co.uk/

Marrakech Designhttps://www.marrakechdesign.se/en/

Corston Architectural Detailhttps://www.corston.com/

MATCHIMATCHIhttps://www.matchimatchi.com/

Studio Orehttps://studio-ore.com/

Kast Concrete basinshttps://kastconcretebasins.com/

Vitamin Livinghttps://store.vitaminliving.com/

Our Nationwide Local Service – a service designed for nationwide property professionals.

The flooring industry is big, which is no surprise given everyone needs floors!

Most estimates put the UK market at around £2bn. But as a market, it is typified by large scale manufacturers working with small, localised retailers and fitters.

With their well-funded Research and Development departments, these manufacturers have invested heavily in product innovation over the last few years. For this reason, the quality of laminate is now unrecognisable to what it was 5 years ago. Entirely new categories have been developed, such as Luxury Vinyl Tiling (LVT) or High Pressure flooring for contract environments. There is a limitless selection of colours and textures.

But on the supply and fit side the innovation has been been slower. 

One of the pain points we have encountered is with businesses who require a nationwide flooring service. They typically carve up the UK by different service providers which means poor buying and inconsistent service levels.

At Kite, we focus on using technology to remove market inefficiencies. For example, we use cutting edge surveying technology to survey any property in the UK within 48 hours. This means our clients can receive a bespoke quote within 72 hours, having never left their desk. We then deploy our team of mobile fitters, working nationwide, who can usually fitting within two weeks. Finally, we provide a video walkthrough of the property, providing clients with a before and after record.

From a clients’s perspective this means –

  1. They don’t have to visit the property to get a quote.
  2. They don’t have to worry about getting measurements wrong.
  3. They won’t need to over order, just in case.
  4. They have a single contractor, nationwide, who takes ownership of each and every project, end to end.
  5. They have peace of mind that the project has been successfully completed without needing to attend the property.

We call this our Nationwide Local Service, a service specifically designed for nationwide property professionals.

Ultimately, at Kite, we’re still in the service business, so our people will always be central to everything we do. But we know we can deploy technology across our processes to improve client experience.

To obtain a quote for your next project, please contact us on info@kite-flooring.com.

Ed and Kristian

Why we started Kite

We started working in property services nearly 15 years ago for one of the largest companies in the sector. This journey took us right across the property spectrum. Sometimes we were working with FTSE companies, sometimes we were working with single Landlords. Sometimes we were working on penthouses, sometimes we were partnering with Local Authorities. We often referred clients to partners for their flooring requirements, but it was rarely something we became involved with; we had relationships with various flooring companies, who more often than not, got the job done. But there seemed to be no one company that provided an exceptional end to end service.

This all changed in the Summer of 2017 when we were invited to one of the largest flooring manufacturers in Europe (we’re talking billions, not millions). We were astonished by the difference between the cost of high-quality product and what was charged to the consumer. Further research into the market revealed a broken supply chain, with too many middlemen, especially when the ultimate clients were reliant upon building contractors and flooring shops. 

We were also overwhelmed by the vast number of options, sometimes with almost no difference, visible or otherwise. Psychologists call this “Overchoice”, or as Alvin Toffler described in his book, Future Shock “Overchoice takes place when the advantages of diversity and individualisation are cancelled by the complexity of buyer’s decision making process”. Do people need 50 shades of grey when choosing carpet? Do they need 120 different types of texture when choosing a wooden floor? The answer is no. They need a curated range of high quality products, at a fair price, any of which would look fantastic in their individual space.

But the product is only one aspect of flooring; it also needs to be fitted professionally. The majority of companies will supply, or fit, but they don’t do both. This means that consumers end up dealing with two companies, which can increase costs and mean that nobody takes ownership of the project.

Kristian is based near the Brecon Beacons, an area famous for affordable, skilled workers. Our teams travel across the UK and are almost always more affordable than fitters in city areas. We also have our own fleet of trucks and vans – so control the distribution from the start to the very last-mile, another place where things can go wrong.

Finally, Sustainability is a priority for us. There are some amazing flooring manufacturers out there. There are also some questionable ones. Organisations and accreditation bodies such as the FSC (https://www.fsc-uk.org) and the PEFC (https://www.pefc.org/) are a great place to start, but consumers still have to be careful. For example, we discovered retailers displaying an accreditation logo on their homepage, when only one of their products was registered! We have spent a lot of time sourcing our product range responsibly, resisting the temptation to source cheaper products from unknown sources.  This is something we feel really strongly about.

We’re looking forward to working with professionals who wish to join us on our journey.

Kristian and Ed

Providing beautiful floors at a fair price

Get in touch for help and advice on our flooring