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Laminate: NALFA takes the high road

January 5/12, 2015; Volume 28/Number 14 

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 12.33.37 PMThough laminate flooring’s market share has been negatively impacted by LVT—often the result of a direct sales-pitch assault espousing LVT’s superiority due to its water resistant, silent nature—North American Laminate Floor Association (NALFA) members have refrained from responding to the attack. Now, for the first time, NALFA president Bill Dearing discusses the issue in an exclusive FCNews interview.

FCNews: Why hasn’t NALFA responded to the LVT suppliers specifically selling against laminate flooring?

DEARING: We at NALFA have an understanding that we should promote the benefits of NALFA rather than get caught up in political nonsense and attack a single category. Our personal belief is to talk about what you can do, not what the other guy can’t.

FCNews: Is NALFA aware of the separation issues some click and loose lay LVTs are experiencing? And, if so, why not capitalize on it?

DEARING: I don’t want to come off as knocking LVT, but strictly from a technical perspective it does have some drawbacks—every product does. All I’ll say is that laminate doesn’t experience those joint expansion issues that could arise from seasonal temperature changes.

FCNews: So laminate won’t expand or shrink from exposure to sunlight or turning the heat up or down?

DEARING: No. It just doesn’t happen. In fact, NALFA-certified laminate is used extensively in Toronto condominiums because it won’t separate or pop up from raising the heat in winter or cooling the condo down in the summer. Laminate flooring has been proven to work in Canada and in climates around the world that are much more severe than what is experienced in the United States.

FCNews: Though NALFA won’t directly counter LVT, is it doing anything new to promote the category?

DEARING: We will have a pavilion at the Las Vegas NAHB International Builder’s Show—that market is coming back as far as real estate is concerned; they’re upgrading to laminate. We’ll also have a pavilion at Surfaces again. This will be our second year of having a pavilion there.

FCNews: Any additional thoughts or points about laminate you would like to convey?

DEARING: I don’t understand why laminate continues to be portrayed as a weakened category or why some of the trade press gives that impression. Not only have we seen sales increase the past two years, but, more important, we’ve seen a significant increase in square-foot prices. That’s a good sign that the consumer is able and willing to loosen her purse strings and go after better products she didn’t consider a few years ago. That should make everybody happy. It’s nice to talk about square-foot increases, but a price increase you can take to the bank. It’s good for the dealer and our membership. That’s significant.