SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — An East Tennessee company said it is the first in the world to produce hemp hardwood flooring.
Tennessee Wood Flooring in Sevierville said the process has been years in the making.
The idea of making hemp into hardwood flooring seemed difficult, but owner Steve Casey knew he and his team had the skills to pull it off.
"It's not oak, it's not hickory," said Casey about the hardwood. He has spent decades manufacturing flooring, but nothing quite like his new product.
"It has its own look," he said. "It's one of the hardest of the hardwoods."
To get to the point of finally seeing the product took three years. It's been working with another startup in Kentucky, HempWood, that started producing hemp-based wood in 2019.
"HempWood was great to contact us and give us a try, and I think we've done okay," he said.
So what all goes into making it?
Instead of taking hemp leaves, which are used to make CBD products, the flooring is made of the leftover stalk.
"Every acre takes ten tons of carbon out of the air in a three month period, which would take an acre of oak trees 60 years to do the same thing," said Casey about hemp. "About as much recycling you can do."
From there it's turned into a hemp wood block.
"Build blocks and presses and use a soy-based glue to make sure it stays environmentally friendly."
The process isn't easy. Casey worried there wouldn't be a market for it, but was quickly proven wrong. A big response came in from all over the country.
"There is a market, so that makes you feel better you're on the right track. Anything that's hard, anything that's worthwhile is hard, that's just the way it is," said Casey.
Minor adjustments still need to be made to the hemp hardwood. Everything should be ready to go in about a month for purchase.