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Laminate: Smaller suppliers get big with spring offerings

Last issue FCNews profiled what the industry’s largest players are introducing for the spring selling season. This edition, we look at what some of the other suppliers in the category are bringing out. Like their larger counterparts, these companies are focusing on longer, wider planks to give a more realistic wood visual.

Lamett

Capitalizing on the new long plank trend along with continued strong sales of products featuring a piano finish, comes the mill’s Lamett Long Planks in six exotic colors— Andiroba, African walnut, Belize, Sonoma, Brazilian teak and Brazilian cherry.

“Whether a consumer has a small or large area, the longer planks reduce the number of end joints in their floor by almost half,” said Perry Coker, president, North America. “This is very desirable. Moreover, we have found in our other piano finish collections that the aver- age job size is much larger than regular laminate visuals, suggesting the higher-gloss laminates are going into more rooms in the house compared to traditional laminate visuals. And we feel offering longer lengths will be a nice complement to this trend.”

At 8.3mm thick, the 71⁄2- foot-long, 51⁄2-inch-wide planks come with a lifetime residential warranty.

Coker said Lamett has also created a “simple but attractive easel display that allows for each long plank to be shown at point-of-sale.”

Lamipro

With five distribution centers now open in the U.S., along with new lines that are “different from the standard laminate offering,” Pete Ciganovich, executive vice president, said the year has started off strong, noting orders of just the new merchandise has already exceeded 132 containers.

The most popular is its new line of wide planks “with natural and exotic looks that create a spectacular floor in large room applications,” he noted. Featuring a fold down locking system from Valinge, the 12-inch-wide planks “make for an installer friendly installation in either the residential or commercial market.”

Though it is 8mm thick, it features an AC5 rating. And, “because we use a premium core, not the standard type” Ciganovich explained, Lamipro offers a lifetime residential and 15-year commercial warranty on the products.

Max Windsor

Domain marks the hardwood manufacturer’s initial entry into the laminate category, noted Peter Spirer, marketing director. “It is our long-term strategy to be a full-line resource to our dealer network, and we see laminate as a cornerstone of this

strategy.”

The collection is an all-inclusive line, featuring a 12mm construction offered in two surfaces—smooth and distressed—and coming in 22 colors ranging in luster from matte to mirror finish. Even though the matte series has an AC4 rating and the mirror finish is rated AC3, Max Windsor has warranted both series for 30 years of residential performance.

Spirer said the visuals feature the “latest generation photo realism” and each is sup- ported by a full complement of matching moldings. He added based on the pro- mising initial customer response the company will be adding six more colors this summer. “We plan to make the laminate sector our ‘Domain’ as well.”

Monticello

In this tough economy, the company is focusing on offering many of the higher-end items consumers desire in their laminate at a price they are not only comfortable with, it allows retailers to earn a profit.

“It’s nice in a price eroding segment of the business with more and more inferior goods entering the market, that you can offer your customer a product where everyone along the channel can make some money,” said Tim Tipton, vice president of sales.

To that end, he held up the Milan line as an example. Available in five colors, the 10mm thick construction features a hand scraped finish and four-sided beveled edges, along with Comfort Clic, the 5G locking system from Välinge.

Välinge

The company that ushered in the mechanical locking system continues to innovate. Solid Laminate is a new kind of laminate as it does not incorporate the traditional décor paper for its design. “There’s no paper, no overlays and it’s more impact and wear resistant—there’s nothing like it,” said Claes Wennerth, spokesman.

It is constructed similar to traditional laminate, except for the top layer that consists of a combination of wood fibers, binders, pigments and hard particles that are mixed and “scattered” to create a durable, yet decorative surface.

Välinge’s other innovation to start 2010 is Active Surfaces. The technology does a number of things, such as making floors easier to clean, as they dry faster. Its photocatalytic process not only breaks down organic material, he noted it actually removes odors and harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air, such as formaldehyde.

-Matthew Spieler