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Congoleum’s SmartLink ‘connects’ with floating LVT

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, ILL.—Add Congoleum to the LVT roster. The resilient manufacturer on April 22 unveiled the category’s latest entry, Connections, at the headquarters of Midwest distributor All-Tile, complete with a few wrinkles the company said addressed some shortcomings of competing products.

Congoleum believes the most significant enhancement lies in what it calls the SmartLink glueless installation system. Attached to each plank is a “highly technical” adhesive film with a sheer strength that lends itself to applications in the aerospace industry. “The film is dimensionally stable, doesn’t shrink or curl but will release on demand,” said Dennis Jarosz, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “The peel strength is perfect, and the bond increases over time.”

Installation is as simple as removing the release paper attached to the adhesive and pressing the two planks together. In addition, SmartLink is more installer friendly, Jarosz said, because other systems don’t allow for easy repositioning if the planks are not properly placed the first time.

Repair is also a snap. Just cut a corner of the plank, then lift it with a putty knife.

“Speaking to retailers at the recent National Floorcovering Alliance meeting, it became obvious dealers are looking for more floating floors, whether it be resilient sheet, resilient tile, laminate or hardwood,” Jarosz said. “Why? Elimination of subfloor prep, shortage of quality installers and, given some of the perceived asbestos issues, this can be installed on top of an existing resilient floor.”

The economy is also fueling interest in floating floors, particularly as consumers look to save money wherever they can. “Connections represents a great opportunity for a consumer looking for a wood visual,” said Bob Weiss, president of All-Tile. “The retailer can fill that void and offer a professional installation with a product installers will enjoy working with,” as well as for consumers looking to install it themselves. Other issues with existing glueless LVTs include subfloor limitations, difficulty in separating the release paper, and even damage to the strip in the packaging. Jarosz said Connections can be installed over just about everything, including OSB and particleboard, and its release paper is not only easy to remove it protects the film in the box. In addition, Connections’ one-ply construction allows for tight joints on all sides.

While some may look at Connections as being a bit late to a category pioneered by Metroflor with Konecto three years ago, Congoleum believes there is an advantage in not being first to market with a relatively new concept like floating LVT. “You look at what’s out there, look at the issues and make a better product.” Steve Rosenthal, vice president of sales for All-Tile, believes Connections represents an opportunity for distributors and retailers. “This allows us to continue building on all the innovations and momentum Congoleum has been generating lately with products like Underfloor, Airstep and Ovations.”

Nuts and bolts

Connections launches later this month with 15 SKUs in five wood species. The random- designed, 6 x 48 planks offer micro-beveled edges and a 12mil urethane/aluminum oxide wearlayer.

“Connections offers a very nice palette,” Weiss said, “especially the rustics and maple designs. Often a maple visual is straight maple, which does not have the appeal today but Congoleum has done its homework on pattern and design, as usual.”

The product comes with a 25-year residential warranty and a 5-year light commercial warranty. Suggested retail price will range from $3.99 to $4.49 per square foot.

Connections will be housed in its own merchandising unit that requires a minimal footprint given its 2-foot width and 1-foot depth. Displays will ship July 31. Suggested cost to retailers is $79.

-Steven Feldman