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Laminate: No lack of innovation, realism in spring launches

With the first wave of products getting ready to hit the market, FCNews surveyed a variety of laminate companies, from the biggest to the not so large, to find out about new items with which they were starting the year. In this issue we look at what the large mills are introducing; next issue will high- light what some of the smaller players have for the spring season.

Armstrong
While most companies focus only on wood visuals, the mill is one of the few that dedicates a great deal of its offerings to tile looks. The reason, as Milton Goodwin, vice president of laminate and ceramic, explains is because tile looks are “much harder to develop than wood. It’s more tedious and exacting.”
2010 will mark the company’s biggest tile launch since 2006. Headlining the list of introductions is the Stones & Ceramics collection. Goodwin said the collection’s sure-fire winner is Weathered Way, which replicates the look of tumbled stone in a random block format.
The tile products are in addition to new wood visuals that include New England Long Plank (FCNews, Feb. 8/15), as well as color additions to its Coastal Living collection’s White Wash Walnut line.

Bruce
Armstrong’s sister brand has also thrown its hat into the long plank onslaught taking place this year with the introduction of Sapele Long Plank to its Reserve Premium collection.
Goodwin said the exotic Sapele is an “impressive hand- scraped floor with distinctive graining and undulating texture—very difficult to achieve in real wood. All at a price she can afford.”
A traditional 5-inch wide rustic hickory has also been added to Reserve and is available in two colors.
Lastly, Peruvian Slate is new to Bruce’s GardenStone Collection. Available in three colors, Goodwin noted the latest line continues the collection’s reflection on looks from around the world.

Faus
New designs, some that are “unmatched in the laminate market,” noted Jane Little, director of marketing, are being added to some of Faus’ most popular collections.
It starts with the mill’s Multi-color slate, she said, which has the look of three slightly different colored slate tiles in one plank.
Then, “in a twist on one of, our most popular products, the multi-direction Cottage Stone, we have added Cottage Travertine in two colors.”
Little said in addition to new products, Faus re-aligned its collections and made changes that “will make our displays more consumer friendly. For instance, its top-end Masterpieces Collection will now feature stone, tile, slate and travertine floors, and Framefloor a combination of tile and framed with a wood grain.

Mannington

When it comes to companies producing tile looks, David Sheehan, vice president of resilient and laminate business, said, “We love tile, and no one does it better than Mannington,” adding over one-third of its laminate sales are in this area. To keep up its position as one of the leaders in tile looks, he said the mill has launched new lines such as Malaysian Palm, whose visual comes from a Chinese Palm, as well as upped the innovation stakes by being able to create “really tight, thin grout lines.”
This technique, Sheehan explained, “more accurately depicts what is happening with real tile. Two new styles in the Revolutions Tile series, Sedona and Portofina, come with the narrower grout lines and have a combined seven SKUs.
On the wood side, in addition to its Longwood Collection (FCNews, Feb. 8/15) he said Mannington’s proprietary Variable Edge Technology, which can be seen in the new Tazmanian Blackwood, allows for a “very light, subtle texture.” It is part of the company’s popular Time Crafted Series in Revolutions Planks and comes in three colors.

Mohawk

Laminates under the Mohawk brand and its sister brand, Quick•Step (see below) boast two major new innovations for 2010— GenuEdge and ScratchGuard Advanced Finish Protection.
Nicki Osborn, manager of business development/residential marketing, called GenuEdge “a revolutionary development that delivers the most realistic hardwood edge visual ever seen in laminate flooring.” Mohawk is using this technology with its new Barrington product. ScratchGuard, which is being introduced into products 8mm and thicker in the Mohawk laminate line, provides an extra layer of protection, she explained, preserving the floor’s original gloss level and making it ideal for use in high-traffic areas.
“It helps prevent micro-scratches caused by routine dirt and dust, which can dull a
floor’s surface finish over time.”

Pergo
Not all companies are focusing their efforts on products geared primarily to the residential market as the all new Pergo Commercial line illustrates. Nancy Sweeney, marketing manager, said the collection has been completely “revamped” from the mill’s original commercial line. “From the core up it has been engineered for commercial applications.”
The most important aspect is the patented process Pergo created to make the product.
Featuring Pergo’s new TitanX Advanced Surface Technology and a patented locking system, the line comes in two widths— nine styles are 8 inches and three are 5 inches.

Quick•Step
In addition to offering new products such as Verseque with the new GenuEdge and Scratch- Guard technologies, the Mohawk division has partnered with noted interior designer and style expert Erinn Valencich. Mostly known through her specials on HGTV, Valencich has appeared on “The View” and has been featured in many design publications, including     House Beautiful, Home, and Better Homes & Gardens.
Valencich is not just some designer the mill picked out of a hat; she has used Quick•Step in her own room designs.
Roger Farabee, Quick•Step’s senior vice president of marketing, said Valencich will be woven throughout the mill’s merchandising program and will also select some of her favorite SKUs to recommend to consumers as    “Designer’s Choice” products. Down the road she will help Qick•Step in the design process.

Shaw
Last year, the high-clarity, extra- luster Luminiere technology was introduced. For 2010, its use has been expanded with the Domestic Luminiere Crystal Lake Collection along with a new Provencial Collection.
Both feature Shaw’s new ScufResist technology, which allows Shaw to offer a limited life- time stain warranty, as well as its LocNPlace single-action angle and drop locking system for easy installation.
Crystal Lake comes in three visuals— Sky- view Lake, Fountain- head Lake and Echo Lake—while Provencial offers a French-inspired rustic Artisan hand- scraped finish replicating both maple and walnut.

Tarkett
Trends is part of a new line of ever-evolving laminate products from Tarkett, noted Jeff Katz, residential director-laminate. “Trends is the perfect laminate that meets the needs of stocking dealers.”
While the line features able Edge Technology, which can be seen in the new Tazmanian Blackwood, allows for a “very light, subtle texture.” It is part of the company’s popular Time Crafted Series in Revolutions Planks and comes in three colors.

Wilsonart
As one of the few laminate companies to seriously tackle the commercial market, Wilsonart’s brand strategy has evolved under the new Wilsonart Contract    umbrella, noted Tammy Weadock, marketing communications manager.
Under this comes the Wilsonart Contract Flooring line with a new Contract speci- fication binder set. “It is the culmination of countless hours of interviews with architects, de- signers, contractors and sales professionals to determine the right balance of live samples, specifications, color swatch references and touch-texture technology to showcase the textured finishes and features of each design,” she explained.
Three collections—Wood- grains, Specialties and Tiles— make up the initial offering and “feature the most in-demand styles for commercial environments, interpreted with Wilsonart’s signature design flair,” Weadock said. “The trend- smart motifs offer a balance of aesthetics and performance for smart commercial solutions.”

-Matthew Spieler