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New group formed to develop WPC standards

By Ken Ryan

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-2-13-32-pmSeven North American flooring companies have come together to form the Multilayer Flooring Association (MFA), with the goal of creating standards for the burgeoning WPC segment. The founding companies are: Metroflor, Armstrong Flooring, USFloors, Torlys, Novalis, Mannington and CFL.

Polymer composite rigid-core floor products, introduced in 2012, have seen robust growth. Heretofore, there are no set standards in place to define the category. The association’s objective is to enable a stronger and better controlled flooring segment for the benefit of retailers and consumers.

Peter Barretto, president and CEO of Torlys, who is serving as marketing chairperson of MFA, told FCNews, “For now, we are still organizing details for MFA. The intention is to follow it up prior to Surfaces with added information.”

Joining Baretto on the board is Harlan Stone of Halstead International/Metroflor Corp., president; Barron Frith, CFL, vice president; Mark Hansen, Novalis Innovative Flooring, treasurer; Jamey Block, Armstrong Flooring, secretary; Philippe Erramuzpe, USFloors, membership chairperson; and Jimmy Tuley, Mannington Mills, member at large.

Hansen, vice president of North American operations for Novalis, said the group is looking to attract new manufacturer members. “We are reaching out now to people to see if there is interest,” he said. The MFA’s next meeting is scheduled for Surfaces week (time and date to be determined).

WPC is viewed by many as a segment of luxury vinyl tile (LVT), the fastest growing product in the industry. However, there are differences in the construction of WPC vs. LVT. For instance, WPC is a composite material made of thermoplastics, calcium carbonate and wood flour. Extruded as a core material it is marketed as being waterproof, rigid and extremely dimensionally stable. In the case of COREtec Plus, USFloors’ product, a veneer of luxury vinyl is layered on top of the coreboard and core underlayment is attached at the base for sound abatement and enhanced comfort underfoot. Not all WPC products are constructed the same way, thus the desire for standards.

Hansen said many WPC products in the market today would not pass an ASTM F 1700 test, which is the specification used for solid vinyl floor. ASTM F 1700 classifies solid vinyl tile in three categories: Class I Monolithic, which means through color tile with no backing; Class II Surface Decorated, which usually means an “inlaid” type tile with a backing; and Class III, Printed Film Vinyl Tile, which is a photographic print film with a clear vinyl wearlayer and a backing system.

“WPC is really a new product and concept, and we need to have proper specifications for this product so the retailer and ultimately the consumer can better understand the product,” Hansen said. “We need to put the proper information in consumers’ hands so they can make an informed decision about what they are purchasing.”

The MFA will be headquartered in Calhoun. Its website (multilayerflooringassociation.com) is still under development. Membership will consist of both regular members and associate members. For membership inquiries, contact Philippe Erramuzpe at philippe@usfloorsllc.com.