Canadian manufacturer ups the ante on waterproof wood
June 10/17, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 26
By Steven Feldman
The waterproof flooring category is by far the fastest-growing segment of the floor covering industry, and one of the latest innovations within this category has been something referred to as composite engineered waterproof wood flooring. In layman’s terms, it’s a real wood veneer attached to a waterproof rigid core, which—according to the National Wood Flooring Association’s definition—falls within the hardwood flooring domain.
A handful of flooring manufacturers have entered the category with a 1.2mm wood veneer. But upstart Canadian manufacturer Times Flooring on June 17 entered the arena with an upgraded product featuring a thicker veneer ranging from 1.6mm to 1.8mm attached to a calcium carbonate core.
The product is called Aqua Allira. (If the name sounds familiar to some, it’s because Uniboard attempted to launch something similar under that moniker two years ago.) However, this iteration is different, primarily because Times Flooring upgraded to a sliced-faced, thicker veneer. “Uniboard was promoting a much thinner, 0.9mm rotary-peeled wood veneer,” said Linda Gelly, who founded Times Flooring three years ago. “A rotary peel visual does not provide the richness of a real sliced hardwood floor. You are unable to see the grain of the wood.”
Gelly knows a little something about hardwood flooring in general and Aqua Allira in particular. She has been in the business for 25 years in roles ranging from working for sawmills in Canada to coloring and finishing unfinished hardwood flooring products using her own formula. In fact, she is credited with inventing the coating to make Aqua Allira waterproof (application, formulation and process). Uniboard sourced its finishing through her company. “But I always wanted to start my own collection of engineered flooring—to design and create my own colors and styles,” Gelly explained.
The waterproof hardwood category has been attracting attention throughout the industry because of its ability to be installed in any room in the home, including bathrooms and kitchens where standing water can be an impediment to the installation of traditional hardwood flooring. It can also be installed over wood or concrete subfloors and can even hide minor subfloor imperfections.
What makes this waterproof hardwood better than existing products of its kind? Plenty, Gelly said.
1. The 1.6mm veneer provides a better visual than a 1.2mm veneer, she said.
2. It is the only waterproof hardwood flooring line made in North America—to the best of her knowledge.
3. Times Flooring offers customization of colors in matte, semi-gloss and satin finishes for 5,000-square-foot minimums without the six- to eight-week wait from Asia. “We can deliver in two weeks because we have 750,000 square feet of unfinished inventory at our facility in Montreal,” Gelly said.
4. Aqua Allira products are third-party tested, submerged in water for 30 days with no warping or cupping, according to Gelly. Competing products are tested for a maximum of 72 hours, she said.
5. Aqua Allira boasts the only residential lifetime warranty for a product of this type.
6. Aqua Allira offers a 10-year heavy commercial warranty while competing products offer a 5-year light commercial warranty.
•Aqua Allira is phthalate free, low-VOC, antimicrobial and pet friendly.
•It can be installed over heated subfloors.
•Because it is manufactured in Canada, Aqua Allira is not subject to tariffs.
•Every varnish is made in North America.
•The product has proven to be dimensionally stable under temperature variations.
•Can be glued down in commercial applications.
•The click installation is ideal for DIYers.
Times Flooring is launching Aqua Allira in eight SKUs in hard maple, hickory and red oak. However, if a distributor or large retailer would like to add to the collection with additional colors, Times is more than capable of delivering on that. Every product in the line comes with the choice of a handscraped or smooth finish, Gelly said. Handscraped products are 1.8mm and the smooth finish is 1.6mm.
Retail price points will range between $4.99 and $5.99 per square foot, product only, which gives the retailer the capability of making a 40% margin or more. Merchandising includes stand-up displays, chain sets and tote boards with architect folders in the works.
Forty-year industry veteran Gilles de Beaumont is consulting with Times to develop and grow the brand in North America. The short-term goal is to establish national distribution, whose efforts will be supported by a marketing campaign to the trade. The long-term goal, according to Gelly, is to become the leader in this composite engineered waterproof wood flooring category.