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Latest cushion products promote performance enhancements

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Nicole Murray

As consumer flooring trends continue to lean toward hard surfaces—specifically LVT, WPC and SPC—underlayment manufacturers are innovating to stay ahead as well as provide dealers with upsell opportunities. During Surfaces earlier this year, a host of underlayment manufacturers exhibited their latest products made for all types of flooring.

Amorim showcased its underlayment for LVT and WPC applications. “We have tweaked what we are offering to now include other products for WPC constructions,” said Larry Lyons, director of sales and marketing. “For our hard surface underlayment program, we have a lightweight product that’s very specified and everyone is using it because it is easier for laying down WPC.”

Lyons explained the benefits to using the product. “On the LVT side, if you have a connection with a property management client, there is an education opportunity for a retailer. A lot of the property management clients want LVT but don’t know about the potential sound issues. We have tools for retailers to help educate the end user about why they need the underlayment.”

Floor Muffler is also riding the wave of LVT/WPC growth with its new Floor Muffler LVT underlayment. The product is 1mm thick and features acoustical and moisture barrier properties.

“Once we started seeing LVT grow popular in apartment buildings, there grew a need for sound reduction,” said Collen Gormley, national marketing coordinator, Floor Muffler. “LVT is growing in the industry; therefore, it is growing for us. The underlayments that are already attached to LVT products may be more convenient, but then you are not using the best quality product with the best ratings available.”

Pak-Lite showed its one-of-a-kind fan fold underlayment applications made specifically for the vinyl and laminate industry. One of its key selling points is its ease of installation. “It is one of the easiest products to install and we have heard that from flooring experts themselves,” said Kimberly Liemkeo, marketing manager. “It is a doable installation process for those who are not very experienced, and the process itself takes out imperfections that exist within the flooring.”

WE Cork highlighted underlayment made for various floors. New to Surfaces was the company’s Warm and Quiet Plus, a 6mm cork underlayment that offers sound control under carpeting, wood and laminates.

Being that it is made from cork, this underlayment is lighter than other products with similar thicknesses. It also has no off gassing and offers a new level of comfort, especially when applied underneath hardwood flooring.

“Cork consists of 200 million closed air cells per cubic inch,” said Ann Wicander, president. “When you walk on cork, it will take a bit more concussion and will be that much more comfortable. While rubber is being used for a lot of multifamily situations, cork overall has a better performance and is more affordable.”

MP Global’s new addition, Quiet Walk Plus, was promoted throughout the show as a “one-stop-shop” underlayment billed as an upgraded version of its original Quiet Walk. Quiet Walk Plus has greater acoustic performance, compression resistance, moisture protection and longevity due to its fiber composition. It can also be paired with more flooring categories and types of installation.

“Quiet Walk Plus becomes your Swiss army knife that can handle being nailed, floated or glued down,” said Deanna Summers, marketing manager, MP Global. “The material is dense enough to support vinyl planking or WPC products and will not crush over time like we have seen with foam underlayments.”

Among the higher-end releases was Laticrete’s new Strata heat floor warming line, designed to be used under tile flooring. It’s controlled by a thermostat that can be adjusted through a smart phone app.

“A wire is placed throughout a mat that goes underneath the tiles, so the material will heat much faster,” said Maria Oliviera, corporate marketing manager, Laticrete. “This technology is best designed for bathrooms or kitchens and offers yet another level to upsell because of its ease for installation during an already existing project.”

To provide dealers with upsell opportunities is DriTac’s new “all-in-one” Total Sound Reduction System, which includes the 8301 Impact underlayment made for resilient and 8302 Double Impact underlayment for wood and laminates. The package comes with a lifetime warranty, enhanced moisture control of up to 10 pounds calcium chloride and 95% relative humidity. All the products come from one supplier. 

“We are marrying our underlayments with our adhesives to offer an enhanced system package that we can get fully behind,” said John Lio, vice president of marketing, DriTac. “It avoids any finger pointing because we know this package inside and out. It gives us all the more reason to stand behind these products because we make it a point to only release premium-level options.”

Similar to a few manufacturers, Centaur Floor Systems not only manufactures a variety of finished products mainly for commercial interiors, but it also provides the underlayment that goes underneath the flooring. Case in point is its Sound Reducer line, which is engineered to provide exceptional impact sound insulation results, even under hard surface flooring for concrete or wood-framed construction.

Also available with a waterproof membrane, Sound Reducer can be installed under most types of grouted, glued and floating floors—including hard tile, hardwood, engineered wood, laminate, LVT and carpet. It’s available in 48-inch-wide rolls in a variety of both standard and custom thicknesses (vapor barrier option available upon request).

Some of Centaur Floor Systems’ products already include the underlayment as a pre-attached backing. This includes the company’s Triple Threat line, which consists of a vinyl wear layer with a 7mm-thick recycled rubber underlayment. According to the company, the product saves time and money because installers only need to put down one material. “We fusion bond the vinyl to the recycled rubber backing so only one material is getting installed as opposed to two different products being laid on top of one another,” said Garnet Sofillas, public relations and communications manager. “Underlayment is always suggested for vinyl, so you can glue down our Triple Threat product directly over the subfloor, saving an installation step.”

Triple Threat’s maximum potential, according to Centaur, is utilized when applying the product to areas designed for exercise and physical activity—gyms or basketball courts, for example. “The material is very forgiving on the hips and joints,” Sofillas added.

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Obit: Americo Amorim

AmorimAmerico Amorim, known as the King of Cork for building his fortune on cork stoppers and believed to be Portugal’s wealthiest man, has died. He was 82.

Amorim’s fortune was recently estimated by Forbes at 4.4 billion euros ($5 billion). His company, Corticeira Amorim, is the world leader in cork production.

The board of directors of his Corticeira Amorim Group announced his death, adding a statement to their website to pay “homage to this man of vision, hard work and causes, who dedicated more than six decades of his remarkable career to development of the Group and the Portuguese economy.”

Corticeira Amorim was founded by Americo’s grandfather in 1870 and the business still processes about one quarter of the world’s cork today. Americo remained chairman of the board of the Grupo Amorim holding company, which owns Corticeira Amorim, among his other interests in the energy and banking sector.

As one of the largest companies in Portugal, the family-owned Amorim has been selling cork products globally for 145 years. Now in its fourth generation of leadership, the company started as producer of wine stoppers, which today still accounts for 60% of the business. It expanded significantly in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

Today, there are five business units that collectively operate in more than 100 countries: wine stoppers (4 billion sold annually), raw materials (Amorim doesn’t own the forests from which it sources its cork; this division is responsible for buying the cork and distributing to the other divisions), floor and wall coverings (a $130 million business), composite cork and insulation cork.

Amorim Flooring North America is based in Baltimore with warehouses in both Baltimore and California. The company sells to retailers through a national network of 13 or 14 distributors, most of which are among the top 25 flooring wholesalers.

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Amorim Revestimentos invests 10 million euros in Hydrocork

Industry_AROSão Paio de Oleiros, Portugal—After only two years of Hydrocork’s launch, Amorim Revestimentos is taking a significant step and investing 10 million euros in its production infrastructure and procedures. This new production unit will increase the response to a growing and more enlightened demand, increasing Amorim’s throughput capacity in over 43 million square feet of flooring per year.

“This investment aims to increase capacity to produce Hydrocork but also to create a range of new agglomerated cork composites with features that don’t exist in the market yet,” said Antonio Cruz, CEO of Amorim Revestimentos. “These products will be truly unique in the market, not only because [they] will be waterproof but also free from PVC.”

Present in more than 70 countries, Amorim Revestimentos closed 2016 with a turnover of around 124 million euros. Cruz admits he is extremely confident that the investment “represents a game changing in the company and a paradigm shift on how it operates in the market.”

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Resilient: Anatomy of a winning product

December 19/26, 2016: Volume 31, Number 14

Some products tout high-performance capabilities such as waterproof attributes and resistance to scuffing, scratching and heavy foot traffic. Others, meanwhile, focus on aesthetics—be they visuals that aim to replicate natural materials such as wood and stone, or more abstract designs that draw their influences from art and geometry. These products run the gamut from more recent introductions to the resilient category to existing products that have evolved and improved over time.

The common denominator across the vast majority of these resilient flooring products is the impact they have had on a category that continues to reinvent itself through innovation and imagination.

Following are some examples of the qualities that define winning products.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-20-pmEarthWerks: Parkhill
The EarthWerks Parkhill premium WPC collection has been expanded to include six new SKUs of embossed in register 7 x 48 planks featuring a 20 mil wearlayer as well as six new 12 x 24 tiles. Suited to fit any décor, whether it’s residential or commercial, the Parkhill line features 2G click installation and Tuff Shield for added durability.

 

 

 

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-26-pmShaw: Floorte
The innovative flooring line uses high-definition printing for a hardwood or tile look that is highly authentic. Its Fold N Go locking system is precision-engineered for an easy installation. Its waterproof qualities make it ideal for high-moisture areas like basements, bathrooms and mudrooms. Floorté has been expanded with two new platforms: Alto and Valore.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-32-pmNovalis: NovaCore, NovaCore XL
NovaCore was introduced by Novalis as a high-performance core (HPC) plank under licensed technology from Unilin and USFloors. NovaCore is made in standard 6 x 48 planks, and NovaCore XL comes in 9 x 60 planks. Both have 10-year light commercial and limited lifetime residential warranties. NovaClic Fd technology aims to ease installation and conforms to irregular subfloors.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-38-pmUSFloors: COREtec Plus
USFloors made its entry into LVT with COREtec and has since emerged as the pioneer in the burgeoning category of WPC. Recent iterations include COREtec Plus, essentially a hybrid floor that combines the best features of LVT with the best features of laminate. COREtec Plus features a 1.5mm wear layer of virgin LVT, a 5 mm core structure, and a 1.5mm attached cork underlayment for an overall thickness of 8mm.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-45-pmDuChâteau: American Guild Premium Vinyl
American Guild, a new line of luxury vinyl plank and tile flooring from DuChâteau, captures the natural beauty of wood and stone. Available in a variety of trendy visuals, the collection offers distinct colors, textures and patterning in a durable, low-maintenance resilient flooring option. In addition, DuChâteau launches the Sovereign Edition (from the Atelier Series), which features EIR technology and a ceramic-reinforced finish.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-54-pmArmstrong: Vivero
The award-winning Vivero luxury flooring features patent-pending Diamond 10 Technology for optimal durability. The floor planks are 100% waterproof, are pet and family friendly and easy to clean. Vivero offers two flexible installation options and features the patented IntegriLock System. Vivero offers four collections—Rustics, Exotics, Traditional and Stones.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-14-59-pmMohawk: SolidTech
Mohawk launches SolidTech, a luxury vinyl product that combines the strength and visual of real hardwood with the durability and cleanability of luxury vinyl tile or laminate. Featuring thick, rigid construction, SolidTech planks look and feel just like real hardwood. They are 50% denser than average composite core flooring so SolidTech planks will not telegraph visual imperfections.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-15-04-pmCongoleum: DuraCeramic
DuraCeramic, one of Congoleum’s legacy products, continues to draw attention among consumers and throughout the industry. According to the company, the line was ranked the No. 1 hard surface product by Consumer Reports. DuraCeramic is not your run-of-the-mill LVT product. It is made with a limestone composite base and fortified with a polymeric resin for stability.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-15-09-pmAmorim: HydroCork
Amorim, makers of the Wicanders brand, recently took the wraps off HydroCork, an innovative product line that couples the top benefits of both LVT and WPC. Utilizing Corktech technology, HydroCork floors provide enhanced performance acoustics that facilitate up to 53% noise reduction. It also offers thermal qualities.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-15-15-pmBeauflor: Pure
Beauflor’s Pure plank and tile collection offers easy maintenance, exceptional sound absorption, is 100% recyclable, 100% waterproof and features a polyurethane finish for long-lasting protection. It can easily withstand heavy loads and high traffic areas. Pure also incorporates DreamClick, a 360° locking system that is one of the strongest in the LVT market.

 

 

 

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Wicanders gets another F4 Star certification

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-1-09-30-pmMozelos, Portugal—Wicanders’ Authentica line produced by Amorim Revestimentos just earned its F4 Star certification. The F4 Star MLIT certification is globally known as one of the most demanding tests to overcome when entering Japan’s market. The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport evaluated the product and certified it to be completely free from formaldehyde-emitting components.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-1-09-46-pmAuthentica combines the Corktech technology benefits (silence; natural thermal isolation; impact resistance; walking comfort and body wellness) with a product that, by having a double layer of cork, stands out on the vinyl flooring by offering a more ecological solution. In its core, Authentica’s touch is as natural and comforting as cork’s. On the surface, it demonstrates endurance and presents a wide range of visuals that will please even the most demanding preferences by contemporary interior fashionistas.

From light shades of white and gray to intense hues of brown and black, Wicanders gathers in its Authentica line a unique assortment of looks and is able to satisfy each of today’s market trends. Within those which replicate wood, the selection covers 18 options from Light Washed Oak to Brown Rustic Pine; there are 10 different visuals for those resembling stone, including Beige and Graphite Marble, Jurassic Limestone and Arabian Slate.

 

 

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Wicanders offerings earn accolades

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 9.19.23 AMSão Paio de Oleiros, Portugal—Authentica, the latest flooring range from the Wicanders’ premium brand, has been selected to appear on the shortlist of Muuuz International Awards in the Natural Floor Covering category. Organized by ArchiDesignclub and d’a magazine, this is a top architecture and interior design international event that this year has recognized 33 products from 15 different countries. The Authentica series from Amorim Revestimentos (Wicanders’ parent company) stood out among 2,500 competing products from 600 manufacturers. Each product is scored on design, originality, usability and technology.

The innovative Hydrocork flooring collection also received an accolade in the Natural Floor Covering category at the Innovation and Construction awards in Portugal. This event is a joint project between Jornal Construir, Anteprojectos magazine and Projectista, a building product search engine. This annual awards event, now in its third year, is aimed at recognizing and awarding the efforts and commitment of companies operating in Portugal that are developing more sustainable solutions and taking construction to a higher level of innovation.

Pedro Pinho, chief marketing officer at Amorim Revestimentos, said, “We are pleased to witness this niche market place more value on the innovative flair underlying the newest ranges of Wicanders’ cork flooring products. The innovation has a direct impact on the well-being of consumers, either as a result of a higher technical performance or more robust sustainability credentials of our cork flooring, in addition to a very strong alignment with the trends in our major markets.”

Launched at the beginning of 2016, the Authentica series features cork at 4mm thickness divided into two separate layers. The addition of a second cork underlayment has an impact not only on the environmental footprint, but also on the technical performance of the floor, offering additional benefits in terms of thermal resistance and sound control.

Hydrocork’s innovative nature has been widely recognized by the market. The inclusion of a new water-resistant solution in a flooring option with a core of composite cork (thus allowing to expand in an unprecedented way, bringing cork flooring to all spaces), a total thickness of only 6mm (making it an ideal solution for renovation projects) and an easy-to-install PressFit compression system make Hydrocork one of Amorim’s products in higher demand, with sales that account for more than 10% of Amorim Revestimentos’ overall sales.

As a result of this rapid growth, Amorim has made a new investment of approximately EUR 1.2 million with a goal of increasing production capacity for Hydrocork to meet the expected increased demand.

 

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Amorim takes enhanced approach to composites

Cork core offers differentiated bells and whistles

March 14/21, 2016; Volume 30, Number 19

By Steven Feldman

Cucina moderna con isola e pavimento in legnoPorto, Portugal—In a world that has become flooded with different variations of waterproof flooring products, retailers are finding it difficult to find discernible differences between the new products and names in which manufacturers are branding them. The one commonality: to grab their share of a market pioneered a few years ago by USFloors with its CoreTec franchise.

At the end of the day, the core of the category surrounds, well, the core. And with that, Portuguese cork manufacturer Amorim is the new shooter by virtue of Wicanders HydroCork, a truly differentiated product that debuts at the highest end of the spectrum due to the features and benefits provided by its cork core vs. the more common HDF core.

“This is a much better solution than [what has been branded] WPC,” said Mario Pinho, vice president of sales, Amorim, which markets its products under the Wicanders brand. While HydroCork’s vinyl top layer offers the same realistic looks as other WPCs and the core also creates a waterproof product, that’s where the similarities end, he said. “Our new CorkTech technology is what makes this product the best that money can buy.”

Here’s why:

  1. Sound absorption. HydroCork reduces walking sound up to 53% compared to laminate because of the cork core material, according to independent testing.
  2. Natural thermal insulation. Cork will insulate hot or cold temperatures from the subfloor.
  3. Walking comfort. After 45 minutes walking in contact with five different materials, third-party studies state cork has a much higher comfort perception than laminate, linoleum or ceramic.
  4. Body wellness. Cork is the perfect mix between hard and soft floors, Pinho said, as it reduces tension and fatigue. “It is the perfect balance in rigidity to impulse while walking and in softness to ease the heel impact, relieving strain on feet, joints, legs and back. Cork absorbs heels when walking on top and bounces back so you don’t feel tired when walking on top of it.”
  5. Impact resistance. Cork is the most shock absorbing flooring. Its elasticity and compressibility allows it to adapt to pressure. If an object is dropped on wood or laminate, a permanent dent or mark is left. Conversely, cork bounces back. “People think of cork as being fragile, yet it is just the opposite,” Pinho said.

Double bed in front of a room divider with bathroom ensuite and armchair with matching 70s style foot stool beside terrace windo

“When you put all these elements into the equation, suddenly you have something different,” he said. “It is the combination of these benefits that turns HydroCork into an incomparable flooring solution. Compared to other WPC products, HydroCork is more impact resistant, more silent, more easy on the body and more comfortable to walk on.”

Early returns back this up. While the product launched globally in 2015 and on a small scale late last year in the U.S. through NRF Distributors, HydroCork is already the fastest growing product in history of the company, he said. In the meantime, many more distributors have embraced this product, namely All Tile, Pacific Materials and Cain & Bultman.

Another benefit: With its 6mm thickness, HydroCork’s low telegraphing effect allows it to absorb irregularities of the subfloor, making it an easy solution for renovations. It can also be laid on top of other surfaces and is suitable for subfloor heating systems, Pinho said.

Installation is fast and easy. HydroCork offers a two-step system where the installer simply places the edge of one plank on top of another and presses down. The planks snap into place via a proprietary locking system. Then the edges of the planks can either be tapped with a rubber mallet or rolled with a hand roller to ensure a consistent installation. The planks are also easy to cut. “This lends itself to both professional and DIY installations,” Pinho said.

HydroCork launches with 12 premium wood visuals. Planks measure 5½ x 48 with a 4-sided bevel. The line is backed by a lifetime residential warranty and Greenguard Gold certified.

According to Pinho, HydroCork transforms Amorim from a cork flooring company into a flooring company that uses CorkTech technology as “the key differentiating element to create and enhance our competitive advantage.” As such, Zach Adams has been named director of U.S. operations. Adams comes to Amorim from J+J Industries, where he served as a regional vice president for the past three years.

Conveying the message

Modern, attic bathroom with fitted bathtub

The challenge for Adams and Amorim will be spreading the word of cork’s features and benefits beyond its sustainable attributes, which has always been its space. The story must go beyond the fact that cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, which grows in the Mediterranean region of Portugal, the south of Spain, Italy, France, Algeria, Tunisia and the north of Morocco. Every nine years the bark is harvested from the trunk of the tree by hand without ever damaging the tree. The first harvest occurs after 25 years, and then every nine years for approximately 200 years.

“We have the best product in the market,” Pinho said. “Now we have to explain why to the retailers and consumers.” And others. Amorim believes the waterproof technology coupled with its wear resistance makes HydroCork suitable for commercial settings as well. “The idea is for this to compete with any hard surface product in the marketplace.”

Because of this blend of high performance, design and comfort, retailers must position HydroCork as a premium product compared to other WPCs on the market. While most WPCs retail for around $3.99, this product will sell for between $4.49 and $4.99, offering ample opportunity for the dealer to make a good margin. Amorim expects its distributors to place more than 1,000 displays in the U.S. market within a couple of months.

Several tools have been developed to pass this story onto consumers:

  1. Point of purchase materials. Retailers will receive new CorkTech boards for the Fashion Vignette display explaining the features and benefits of HydroCork. And affixed to the backside of the boards will be samples of laminate, wood and LVT so the consumer can physically experience the benefits of HydroCork. There is also a demonstrate kit (binder) that allows the consumer to compare cork to wood (impact resistance), laminate (sound absorption) and LVT (warmth). Retailers can also be provided with a CorkTech drum for consumers to perform these same tests.
  1. Merchandising tools. Amorim has developed more up to date and upscale displays. The new HydroCork display, for example, acts as a silent salesperson in explaining why the consumer should pay $0.50 to $1 more for this product.
  1. Brochures explaining the benefits of CorkTech technology. One includes all the HydroCork designs while another targets architects and designers by showing many of the projects completed worldwide using HydroCork.
  1. A new website developed specifically to convey CorkTech features and benefits. The website is also built for mobile usage.
  1. A new app where consumers can find all HydroCork visuals, get technical information or find a local retailer. The app also connects to the website, allowing consumers to request samples.

Rich in tradition

As one of the largest companies in Portugal, the family-owned Amorim has been selling cork products globally for 145 years. Now in its fourth generation of leadership, the company started as producer of wine stoppers, which today still accounts for 60% of the business. It expanded significantly in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

Today, there are five business units that collectively operate in more than 100 countries: wine stoppers (4 billion sold annually), raw materials (Amorim doesn’t own the forests from which it sources its cork; this division is responsible for buying the cork and distributing to the other divisions), floor and wall coverings (a $130 million business), composite cork and insulation cork. Sales in 2015 reached nearly $745 million.

Amorim Flooring North America is based in Baltimore with warehouses in both Baltimore and California. The company sells to retailers through a national network of 13 or 14 distributors, most of which are among the top 25 flooring wholesalers.

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Cork flooring featured at CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 2.57.33 PMBordeaux, France—Amorim’s Wicanders cork flooring is the star of a brass-inlaid floor covering designed by the prestigious Portuguese artist Leonor Antunes as part of her solo exhibition at the CAPC Musée d’art Contemporain de Bordeaux that will run until April 17.

Covering 1500 square meters, the cork floor sculpture is made of Wicanders Corkcomfort flooring manufactured by Amorim Revestimentos and occupies the entire surface of the Central Nave of the CAPC museum. In addition to comfort, this product range highlights the genuine natural cork look.

“Once again, the option for a cork flooring is aligned visually with the artist’s intended aesthetic effect while giving a warm and inviting atmosphere to the place,” said Carlos de Jesus, Amorim’s marketing and communication manager.

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Cork: Combination of technology, natural attributes create durable, quality floors

Aug. 17/24; Volume 30/Number 5

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 12.01.17 PM Although cork floors have gained popularity in the U.S. over the last 100 years, they have actually been in use for well over 300 years in Europe, where the product first originated. In fact, despite cork’s rocky start and reduced usage in the U.S., some cork floors installed in high-traffic areas like government buildings, banks and churches are still in service today, proving its ability to withstand scratches, dents and wear over time.

“The scratch and dent resistance of these floors is evidenced by many buildings from the early 20th century that still have cork floors in excellent condition in spite of their age and high volume of foot traffic,” said Deborah Hardin, chief customer officer, USFloors. “While no floor is bulletproof, cork floors are very durable and will continue to perform for many years after installation.”

While cork is known best for its sustainable and green attributes as well as sound abatement, comfort and warmth underfoot, most people—salespeople, dealers and consumers alike—don’t know that cork’s durability, impact resistance and resilience are key advantages of the category. “When people think about cork they just remember the bulletin boards, but there is an incredible number of solutions with different applications,” said Patrícia Fernandes, public relations and online marketing, corporate marketing department, Amorim Revestimentos.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 12.00.58 PMOne cause of this common misconception of cork is lack of education and awareness on both the sales and consumer fronts. Most people have not been exposed to modern cork and are unaware of the options that come with a cork floor. Since there have been countless advances in technology in recent years, cork floors offer a variety of finishes, veneers, colors, decors and visuals—all exceedingly durable.

“A majority of the public doesn’t know cork can even be used as a floor unless they are watching HGTV or other similar programming,” said Ann Wicander, president of WE Cork. “It’s not something that crosses the radar very often. It always goes back to education. If a salesperson is nervous about something or doesn’t know too much about a product, he will tend to shy away from it.”

USFloors’ retail training includes a program called “Bustin’ Myths and Takin’ Orders,” which highlights some popular misconceptions of cork and explains in detail the truth behind them. For example, cork’s durability is complemented by its water resistance as the raw material is naturally impermeable, a feature not known to many shoppers.

“USFloors has been on a campaign for the last year to make a concerted effort to educate retail salespeople of the features and benefits of cork so that they will sell this [viable] flooring option with confidence,” Hardin said. “Cork naturally repels water. Think about some of the most common uses for cork: wine bottle stoppers and fishing floats. Both of these applications require that cork will not allow liquid to be absorbed.”

Cork’s durability comes from a combination of natural, inherent attributes with advanced technology. “One of the characteristics Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 12.01.09 PMof cork is that it has an elastic ‘memory’ and therefore recovers well from compression, very much like how a wine cork stopper being pulled out of a bottle expands,” said Mário Pinho, vice president of sales for North America, Amorim. “Due to its resilient qualities, cork flooring has the ability to bounce back from hard impacts. A durable surface finish further protects the cork and allows for easy maintenance.”

A number of highly durable, scratch-resistant floor covering options available in the hard surface market today are rough on the feet. Not only are cork floors soft underfoot, they are also recommended for people with joint pains or arthritis, without compromising its durability.

Amorim, a pioneer in offering cork-based floors suitable for both residential and commercial high traffic applications with 145 years of experience, recently launched Hydrocork by Wicanders, which offers maximum durability by combining LVT with a cork core. “It also has the unique PressFit vertical installation system that takes full advantage of cork’s inherent properties—flexibility, elasticity and compressibility—functioning exactly like a cork stopper,” Pinho explained. “It is the perfect product for heavy traffic commercial jobs and also for DIY residential applications.”

WE Cork also uses technology to enhance the durability of its cork floors. Its most recent launch, the Serenity collection, is available in both glue down and floating formats and features a high density and new generation of finish technology while retaining cork’s natural cell structure (closed air cells allow for thermal and acoustic insulation). The trifecta results in an AC rating of 5, which surpasses the performance of LVT.

“With this we can offer custom visuals and 10-year warranties with no fading,” Wicander noted. “At the same time it’s still green, comfortable, quiet and extremely dent resistant.”

USFloors’ Endura AR high performance UV-cured aluminum oxide finish provides advanced abrasion resistance for the company’s cork floors. Endura AR protects these floors from everyday wear, making sure they look new after many years of use. “State-of-the-art finishes like Endura AR protect the floor and make it as durable as any prefinished or site-finished hardwood floor,” Hardin said.

While cork does not lose its strength over time, reasonable care needs to be taken regarding furniture and heel protection to ensure that the floor is not damaged, as with all hard surface flooring. Pinho noted that most cork floors are prefinished, meaning they can offer long wear warranties without the need of applying any additional coats on site.

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Cork: A smart, sustainable choice

Manufacturers highlight inherent benefits, new designs to retailers

Nov. 4/11 2013; Volume 27/number 14

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 6.25.21 PMHicksville, N.Y.—While top players across all categories, from wood to carpet to LVT, work to create a more sustainable flooring option, the major manufacturers in the world of cork flooring can sit back and relax as their products are inherently environmentally friendly and made of rapidly renewable material. Continue reading Cork: A smart, sustainable choice