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Retail education: The real science behind WPC

FCNews Ultimate Guide to WPC: July 17/24, 2017

By Bill Treiber


Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.49.50 AMThe emergence of WPC (wood plastic composite) core flooring into the LVT and LVP product sector has accelerated in recent years. In this article, I explain what WPC is and how it differs from other products in the market.

Though it may be defined differently depending on the person/company you ask, WPC cores are basically a mixture of thermoplastics, wood particles/ fibers and other added materials like stone. These components are generally combined above the melting temperature of the thermoplastic and then mixed with different polymers to make various WPC products. Most likely the first product you saw in the building profession that used WPC was decking material. Today, a full array of products can be seen in the market—including flooring.

The most commonly used plastics for this type of application are polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). Next to PE, PP is the second most widely used plastic in the world. PP is lighter, stronger and stiffer than PE. However, it is also more brittle. This factor makes its use in WPC products very low.

Polyethylene is the most common plastic used for consumer goods, but be aware that there is more than one variation of PE. There are also linear low-density PE and very low density PE, which is seldom used due to flexural weakness. Polyethylene, when used in WPC, is mostly high-density PE. Polyethylene has a high resistance to wear and withstands the effects of weather, chemicals in the sulfuric acid families, as well as nitric and hydrochloric acids. It is also highly resistant to oxidation—a common concern for exterior products.

Product attributes. The use of WPC in commercial products is growing rapidly. For many years only extruded products were available. The main reasons for extruded plastics are their ability to produce products from recycled plastics that otherwise cannot be recycled. In essence, it offers an alternative to pure virgin thermoplastics more commonly used in injection molding processes. Being that its composition is tightly extruded recycled plastics, fibers and polymers, the product is not only environmentally friendly but structurally sound—thanks in no small part to the heating and melting of the components at very high temperatures. With such a solid product, temperature changes that would normally affect other materials do not impact WPC. This enables the use of radiant heat with WPC products without worrying about adverse effects from the warmer temperatures.

The most notable characteristic of WPC is its waterproof qualities. The product’s well-known resistance to water damage makes it superior to other products found in high moisture exposure areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and entryways. This inability to attach water particles to itself also creates an antimicrobial product, thereby eliminating potential for bacteria to grow.

Ongoing developments

The future looks bright and strong for WPC’s application to the flooring industry. The ability to finish flooring products with a LVT or LVP wear layer and use WPC as a core backer creates endless options. Currently 7.5mm- to 8.5mm-thick WPC floors are most common. Look for WPC floors to fluctuate in thicknesses from 5mm to 12mm. With the desire for more recycled product choices, WPC provides a viable option going forward in the product niche. When looking about at all of the positive product attributes, it’s safe to say that WPC flooring is here to stay for a while.


Bill Treiber is technical sales and education manager for Artistic Finishes (Moldings Online). He began his career in the lumber industry and built a strong sales record in wood flooring distribution for more than 15 years.

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Retail Education: Negatives make positives

By Kelly Kramer

July 22/29; Volume 27/Number 7

Kramer, Kelly Color 05So often in sales we tend to leap headfirst into selling. We greet our new customers and move straight to selling a product we like or the company has asked us to push.  This technique makes us just like every other salesperson out there and lets our potential buyer know we have no concern for their given situations.

It’s like the car dealership that offers everything from sub-compact to high-end luxury cars. The salesperson takes you to the high-end car before he even knows what you are looking for. Sure, pushy and ignorant sales will work a small percentage of the time, but why be like the rest? Why not double or triple that closing average by actually investigating the buyer’s wants and needs and proving you understand which direction to take that is in her best interest? Continue reading Retail Education: Negatives make positives

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Relax, do the footwork

Kramer, Kelly Color 05Volume 26/number 28 June 10/17, 2013

by Kelly Kramer

For many of us old timers in retail flooring sales, we understand there seems to be no rhyme or reason for sales being up or down. The only times I’m pretty sure will be slow are the last two weeks of August and three weeks after Christmas. Then the traditional spikes in business are before any holiday and when folks figure out they are getting money back from taxes.

Periods between those “up” times can be like a roller coaster. For those of us with a tremendous referral, those unstable phases are generally much more common. But recently I find myself scratching my head when I hit those patches when the sales stop for two weeks and it seems most buyers are indecisive or simply can’t buy for some time.  Continue reading Relax, do the footwork

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retail education: My Schlüter experience

Kramer, Kelly Color 05by Kelly Kramer

Well it’s been about 27 years since I took my first job as a retail flooring salesperson. During my initial 17 years I didn’t work or manage a store that sold tile or stone. So when I wrote my first product knowledge book, “Selling Clean,” I had to do very extensive research to write the chapter on those products.

It was about that time I started to sell some tile at a store I was managing in my current town of Loveland, Colo. Since then, I’ve vastly increased my tile sales to the point I’m considered a very strong tile designer and my store is one of the largest tile showrooms in northern Colorado. Continue reading retail education: My Schlüter experience

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Retail education: Quality takes time

By Kelly Kramer

Volume 26/Number 26; May 13/20, 2013

Often in an effort to generate dollars immediately, we forget that selling bottom line and cutting corners to win a bid are harmful to our future.

Having gone through the last five years of a downturn economy put many of you in survival mode. That often means lowering margins and believing you had to lower the quality of your work to match that lower margin. Meanwhile those of us who had a 10 to 40-plus year track record of great quality installations, great service and fair prices simply continued our quality practices. Continue reading Retail education: Quality takes time

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Retail Education: The phenomenon

Volume 26/Number 25; April 29/May 6, 2013

By Kelly Kramer

Earlier this year I encountered a situation that you, as a retailer, may have already had happen to you. Or maybe it will never happen.

A customer called me to complain that the carpet we installed nine months ago in her home was getting large spots on it. Only twice before in my career—which has spanned over 25 years—had I seen this. My first thought was pooling, and as it turned out I was correct. Continue reading Retail Education: The phenomenon

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After-sale follow-up

by Kelly Kramer

This article is from page 49 in my 184-page training manual “Selling Clean In Retail Flooring.” Is this a plug to sell my books and layout tools? You bet it is. But I’m always proud to show you various ways to help your buyers and grow your income.

The category that keeps good salespeople from becoming great is generally the starting point. When you think about how many sales you make in a year, you need to ask yourself how many of those people would refer their friends or neighbors to you. Continue reading After-sale follow-up

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Can meatballs be your competitive advantage?

by Lisbeth Calandrino

Several years ago I took a trip to Ikea in New Jersey. Ikea is the largest furniture store in the world with over 10,000 items on display.

After a tour of the store, a stop at its day care center and, of course, a plate of Swedish meatballs, I took out my notebook and my pen and convinced my companion to help me interview customers coming out of the store. Since we were both in suits, people thought we worked for Ikea and seemed playful and delighted to answer questions. We spent 45 minutes asking questions and were never accosted by the Ikea people. Continue reading Can meatballs be your competitive advantage?

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Retail education: Match maker

by Kelly Kramer

The television and radio stations are flooded with commercials telling you that you need to pay them to find you a mate. My personal opinion on this is so many people have made poor choices for mates/spouses in their past they feel they need guidance the second, third or fourth time around.

I got very lucky the first time around when I married my wife Anne. But I was a bachelor until I was 30. Not that there weren’t a number of would-be candidates willing to marry before that time, there was just never the perfect one. Continue reading Retail education: Match maker

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Retail education: Show some appreciation

Volume 26/Number 22; March 18/25, 2013

It seems to me our world is becoming a more crass and negative place to live. The majority is no longer polite.

The art of “how to win friends” as well as doing business with a good old trusting handshake is gone. It’s morphed to a blatant style that resembles blackmail and hard-selling tactics.

Even our politicians­—who everyone knew were bought and paid for—used to disguise backwards behavior, to some extent. Today they stand arm in arm with their backers and not their constituents. I’ve heard comedians say, “I’d like to introduce you to the senator from ‘Big Oil’ or the congressman from the NRA.” The apparent idea is to say something that half the people will believe and ignore the rest. Continue reading Retail education: Show some appreciation