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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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Installments: Add to your bottom line with hardwood accessories

May 25/June 1, 2015; Volume 29/Number 4

By Bill Treiber

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 3.58.46 PMBuying, selling and installing accessories can sometimes be a challenge for floor covering professionals. Moldings, vents, treads and adhesives are often difficult products to handle, let alone ensure profitability from sales.

In addition, accessories are notoriously difficult to buy in the right inventory quantities—just ask distributors who try to stock them profitably. This is often due to the inability to accurately forecast sales. To add another layer of complexity, each sale has different molding profiles, species and accessory requirements. Given these challenges, here are some tips to consider:

Find the right supplier. Made-to-order accessory manufacturers are a great source for the best price. Many of these manufacturers can ship moldings within three days; helping to deliver customer satisfaction and profitability. Some points to consider:

  • Some manufacturers ship directly to the job site.
  • Use a single source for convenience, speed and future pricing leverage.
  • If you own multiple stores, hire a central moldings/accessories buyer to save time and money.

Sell the total package. Accessories are often afterthoughts, creating delays and costs post sale. Package pricing offers opportunities to add profitable items and services to the sale.

Avoid quoting a price for the job and adding the extras afterward. To alleviate installation problems, encourage the customer to order the flooring and moldings at the same time. The customer will be more likely to purchase a total package if she believes there is inherent added value, making it harder to exclude accessories at the time of initial purchase.

There are margins in moldings. Accessories have wider markup ranges, enabling the salesperson to “sharpen the pen” in additional areas rather than just destroying profit margins in a single product area. If the salesperson is truly excellent, then larger profit margins are always evident in a total package with no discounts. Salespeople should ask as many questions as possible about the proposed job, including:

  • Are transition moldings or wall base moldings required?
  • What trims are currently in the room?
  • What kinds of rooms adjoin the installation area?
  • What vents are currently in the room?
  • Are stairways part of the room or adjoining rooms?
  • What are the measurements of the doorways and steps?
  • How many steps are there in the stairway to be installed?

Minimize reorders. Quality accessories help guarantee a longer life and higher performance when installed in a proper setting plus, they will outperform and outlast any plastic, MDF or overlay products in the market.

Don’t forget about customer service. The more knowledgeable your salesperson is, the faster the customer is educated and the faster a sale gets closed.

Work with a manufacturer that provides accessible and “live” customer service reps to get the best results and save time. Also, accessible and accurate online product information is a tremendous time saver.

Be sure to use professional marketing and sales tools to build your credibility in your customer’s eyes.