September 16/23, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 7
By Reginald Tucker
When glueless installation systems were first incorporated into laminate floors back in the early ’90s, the primary aim was to expedite the installation process. The innovation behind the snap-and-lock, tongue-and-groove panels allowed installers to finish a job in a shorter amount of time and not have to deal with handling messy adhesives or with cleanup after the fact. This enabled them to move on to the next job more quickly, thereby increasing their own profitability as well as the dealers who employed them.
With today’s advancements in glueless locking systems for laminates, the goal is to dramatically improve the product’s resistance to moisture incursion. On one hand, this helps put laminate flooring in a better position to compete against the likes of WPC and SPC—products that are inherently resistant to moisture. At the same time, the latest locking system innovations translate into step-up products that allow retailers to charge more money in a category laden with commodity-type offerings.
Take Inhaus, for example. The company has created a new water-resistant locking system that is an additional feature to the angle fold Megaloc locking system that’s standard on all Inhaus products.
As Derek Welbourn, CEO, explained, it is an enhancement designed to improve the water- resistant characteristics of the company’s products. “The joint is designed to prevent water from penetrating the product’s core and the site’s subfloor, which can occur during wet mopping or spills. This is achieved through a tighter fit between planks and a new patent-pending, overlapping architecture of the locking joint.”
Manufacturers across the board are incorporating advancements in their locking systems to weed out water. Mohawk’s RevWood Plus line, for example, entails a complete waterproof system comprising the Uniclic MultiFit locking system, Mohawk’s GenuEdge pressed beveled edge and the company’s HydroSeal perimeter coating to trap liquids on the surface of the floor, thereby preventing damage to the coreboard. The waterproof seal is so reliable, according to Mohawk, that consumers can even regularly wet mop a RevWood Plus floor—something unheard of with traditional laminate floors.
“With RevWoods Plus, we have taken performance to the next level,” said Angela Duke, director of brand marketing at Mohawk. “The combination of HydroSeal, GenuEdge bevel technology and the Uniclic glueless locking system—which keeps water from seeping past the joints—makes the flooring completely waterproof.”
Even those companies that have not updated their locking profile, per se, continue to tweak the technology to achieve the desired results. Mannington, for one, has added some new technologies over the past 24 months to elevate product performance. “Specifically, we introduced our SpillShield moisture protection and added a wax layer on the top of the tongue to further protect from moisture,” Dan Natkin, vice president of hardwood, laminate and resilient sheet, explained. “Those two technologies make the product significantly more resistant to everyday spills and mishaps.”
Increasingly, laminate flooring suppliers are working more closely with the companies that hold the patents for various locking mechanisms. The aim is to further enhance an already robust offering of glueless systems. Beauflor, for instance, recently launched a water-resistant laminate collection that features a Valinge 5G locking system. The design boasts a fold-down installation mechanism that makes the overall installation process faster and easier. There is no need for glue or nails because each plank is equipped with a flexible plastic tongue that is pushed into a wedged tongue-groove that snaps the product together. Once the tongue is secured, a clicking sound signifies the products are successfully locked together. The seal is tight enough to lock out spills for up to 72 hours.
Beyond the sheer bells and whistles, these enhancements provide real benefits for retailers and installers. As Tami Stahl, senior marketing manager for Beauflor, explained: “The Valinge 5G locking system is ideal for retailers because it meets the needs of different customers. It is easy enough for a DIY customer who wants to tackle his own home remodel project, and it’s a time/material cost saver for the budget-conscious customer. For professional installers, the Valinge 5G locking system reduces the time required to complete the job and does not require a backbreaking installation process. This allows installers to complete the job faster and move on.”
I4F continues to innovate
I4F, a group of companies providing patents and technologies to the flooring industry, continues to roll out new formats to fit a range of products for its licensing partners. This allows clients to choose which patents, or groups of patents, best meet their most current business needs.
Following are some of the latest I4F patented technologies:
3L TripleLock. According to I4F, 3L TripleLock is the easiest and fastest system for flooring installation on the market. With this system, there are no inserts needed like several other fold-down systems. The elimination of the additional insert on the short side allows manufacturers to improve productivity levels and reduce their product costs and carbon footprint. 3L TripleLock is suitable for existing high-speed production. According to John Rietveldt, CEO, I4F, the system has multiple installation benefits: it is up to 30% faster than basic click systems, there’s no squeaking and no special tools are needed for installation.
Click4U. This is an angle-system for the long side combined with 3L TripleLock on the short side. Just like 3L TripleLock, Click4U is suitable for existing high-speed production machinery. The system has multiple installation benefits as well. It is fast and easy to install without special tools.
“We constantly seek out innovations that are cutting-edge so our licensees get the best technologies out there,” Rietveldt, said. “Our portfolio of patents, now comprising over 2,000 patents and technologies spanning multiple categories, continues to grow.”