By Ken Ryan
Feb. 17/24 2014, Volume 27/number 21
The growth of luxury vinyl tile is making it more difficult than ever to stand out from the pack. That reality merely serves to motivate R&D departments in developing feature-rich offerings for distributors and dealers.
The opportunity that exists in the growing LVT market is what prompted Beaulieu, for example, to enter the category in 2013. Beaulieu is just the latest of more than a dozen resilient flooring companies working to differentiate their LVT offerings—whether by locking system, price or visual appeal.
Following is a look at some of the newest offerings in the resilient floating floor category:
Product/collection: Luxe Plank/Tile; Duality; CushionStep
Floating floor type: Luxe Plank/Tile, FasTak installation; Duality, loose lay or glue-down; CushionStep, modified loose lay or glue-down with either releasable or permanent adhesive
About the product: Positioned as the ideal flooring choice for home or business, the designs of Luxe Plank and Luxe Tile replicate the color, texture and fine detail found in authentic hardwood and natural stone. Topped with a rugged urethane wearlayer, Luxe Plank and Luxe Tile are engineered to resist scratches, scuffs and stains in light commercial settings. Armstrong’s FasTak installation allows the floor to be walked on immediately.
Additionally, Duality offers high-definition designs with MasterWorks technology along with CleanSweep G that provides ease of cleaning, and superior stain and antimicrobial protection. The ToughGuard Flex layer enhances durability.
With CushionStep, a CushionCore construction adds to the product’s warmth and comfort level.
Product/collection: Good Vibrations, Timeless Charm
Floating floor type: Välinge 2G locking system
Retail price range: $4.99-$5.99 per square foot
About the product: Good Vibrations, which comes in a 12 x 24 aged-weathered plank, targets the consumer who is less concerned about price than style and design. “It is about price but it is also about aesthetics,” said Paul Dominie, national sales manager. “A man might buy an ugly floor because it is cheap, but a woman won’t buy an ugly floor.”
Dominie said Beaulieu “can’t keep up” with the request for Good Vibrations and Timeless Charm, which were on display at Surfaces. Samples will be out in the next three weeks. “Dealers really loved the look,” he said.
Product/collection: EZLay, FreeGrip
Floating floor type: EZLay, releasable product; FreeGrip, loose lay
Retail price range: $2.99-$3.99 per square foot
About the product: EZLay is available in 6 x 36 and 6 x 48 x .098 gauge planks; tile sizes are 12 x 12, 18 x 18, and 12 x 24 x .098 gauge. Any piece of EZLay can be lifted and refitted, and it installs over most subfloors.
FreeGrip Stay n’ Place plank and tile, which is available in the same dimensions as EZLay, does not require glue or paper and can be laid on most subfloors. Both products come with a UV-cured polyurethane coating and pure virgin vinyl construction. “It’s an extremely versatile product,” said Barron Frith, vice president and general manager.
Product/collection: EarthWerks Loose Lay Aurora Collection, LinkWerks Rapid Clic
Floating floor type: Aurora, loose lay; LinkWerks, Unilin click
Retail price range: Varies
About the product: LinkWerks and EarthWerks Loose Lay have been an integral part of EarthWerks’ business.
The EarthWerks Loose Lay Aurora Collection requires no locking mechanism or need for full-field adhesive, so it can be easily removed and reused elsewhere. LinkWerks Rapid Clic is designed to meet unusual subfloor challenges, said Jonathan Train, vice president of EarthWerks. “LinkWerks Rapid Clic is a complicated product to make and quality is paramount. The formulation of our core is critical and we pride ourselves on having the best in the industry. In fact, we are so confident in our recipe that we do not require fiberglass, unlike most other producers of click LVT.”
Both EarthWerks Loose Lay Aurora and LinkWerks Rapid Clic are commercially rated.
Product/collection: FloorFolio Click
Floating floor type: Click
Retail price range: Approximately $2.50 per square foot
About the product: FloorFolio Click is a 4mm product with a 12 mil wearlayer. Part of the Timber collection, this is the first click product introduced by FloorFolio.
“True to FloorFolio’s values, this product will be well-styled and competitively priced,” said Michael Freedman, president and CEO.
FloorFolio plans on offering its click product in various styles and patterns within its complete LVT collection in the near future.
Floating floor type: Loose lay, perimeter secured or fully adhered
Retail price range: $2.50-$5.00 per square foot
About the product: FreeFit’s commercial collections are 4mm thick, with a 20mil wearlayer; planks are 6 x 36 and tiles are 18 x 18. Residential products are 3.2mm thick with a 12mil wearlayer. They come textured, knotted and embossed-in-register in a 6 x 36 plank.
Product/collection: Hallmark San Simeon
Floating floor type: EZ Loc Unilin locking system
Retail price range: $3.69 per square foot
About the product: San Simeon is a 7 x 48, 4mm thick, 20 mil wearlayer product finished with the company’s Surface Guardian Pro UV-cured ceramic finish, which includes the antimicrobial agent Nanocontrol. The product features domestic visuals and reclaimed looks with an embossed-in-register texturing that enhances the realism of the product. San Simeon comes with a lifetime residential and 10-year commercial warranty.
Product/collection: Moduleo, Flexitec
Floating floor type: Moduleo: luxury vinyl planks and tiles, click system; Flexitec: luxury fiberglass sheet vinyl, loose lay up to 25 yards
Retail price range: Moduleo, $3.29-$3.89; Flexitec, $1.11-$2.66
About the product: Both Moduleo and Flexitec are 100% water resistant, and they also resist scratches, scuffs, stains and indentations. In addition, Moduleo by IVC US features a double fiberglass core for maximum dimensional stability. High-definition printing techniques and embossing technology give Moduleo LVT the look and feel of natural materials. Extra-large formats and technical innovation used during the Moduleo printing process help eliminate pattern repeats, allowing a greater variety of planks and tiles to refashion the individuality of nature.
The 2014 Flexitec VI collection includes new and fresh on-trend patterns, designs and colors, and is considered suitable for active households.
Floating floor type: Loose lay
Retail price range: $5.09 per square foot
About the product: Karndean Designflooring’s LooseLay LVT product features a glueless format that is easy to install due to its non-stick backing system.
Product/collection: Adura Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Floating floor type: Luxury Vinyl Planks (traditional Plank and Distinctive Plank), LockSolid locking system
Retail price range: $3.99–$5.49 per square foot
About the product: Adura offers the award-winning styling that Mannington is known for, in a floor that’s as durable as it is aesthetically pleasing. LockSolid, the company’s patented locking system, is the only locking system with a no-gap guarantee. Planks are available in a variety of sizes—4 x 36, 5 x 48 and 6 x 48.
Product/collection: Engage; Metroflor Dryback
Floating floor type: Engage, Uniclic; Metroflor Dryback, dry back
Retail price range: Engage, $3.76-$6.36 per square foot, depending on product; Dryback, $1.68-$5.42 per square foot
About the product: Engage locking LVT by Metroflor offers a solid vinyl floating floor solution for residential and commercial applications. The line presents a broad range of authentic wood and stone looks that can be installed directly over most existing hard surfaces quickly and efficiently with Uniclic locking technology.
Engage will transition some existing collections to a new Unifit locking profile and introduce a long plank format (8.66 x 48½). A new entry-level 4.0mm plank named Premier will become the “good” series in a good (premier)/better (essentials)/best (select) program.
Metroflor’s branded Metroflor luxury resilient plank and tile is ready to launch. It is a multi-width, 20 mil product in 5 x 7 widths with a micro-beveled edge. An 8 mil Crescent Edge product, Metroflor-branded selections present an upgraded specification in both performance and aesthetics to the current 6 mil offering.
Floating floor type: Uniclic
Retail price range $3.49-$3.99 per square foot
About the product: Made from 100% virgin vinyl material, Simplesse is ideal for high-traffic living areas due to its dent and scratch resistance. The collection features Mohawk’s patented Uniclic technology, which allows for fast, easy, worry-free installation. Simplesse planks click into place and can be installed quickly, which the company said helps retailers close the sale with customers who are on a deadline.
Product/collection: Elevations, Loft
Floating floor type: Floating
Retail price range: Elevations, $4.99 per square foot; Loft, $3.99 per square foot
About the product: The success of Elevations (5mm thick), which was introduced two years ago, has been the catalyst for launching Loft, Raskin Industries’ newest floating LVT.
“Elevations was our first entry into the perimeter glue/loose lay product category and has proven to be a quality product because of the fiberglass sheet,” said John Hunter, vice president of sales. “Loft (4mm thick) will now primarily target the residential customer.” Hunter noted that the product’s rounded edge offers a grouted feature that consumers are requesting.
Product/collection: Park Avenue from 5th & Main Collection
Floating floor type: Shaw’s Versalock floating plank
Retail price range: $5.50 per square foot
About the product: Before it was installed at heavily trafficked Grand Central Terminal during the holiday season—part of Shaw Industries’ Red Carpet sponsorship—the company’s Park Avenue LVT first had to undergo rigorous testing to make sure it was traffic worthy.
“We were excited but not surprised with our Park Avenue product performing at Grand Central,” said Clark Hodgkins, category manager for resilient. “It has to be one of the most highly tested products. It has exceptional lasting ability and has been very successful in the market.”
Product/collection: Tarkett FiberFloor
Floating floor type: Fiberglass-backed resilient sheet
Retail price range: N/A
About the product: Tarkett’s structured foam technology, Technicore, ensures uniform structure and provides consistency, stability and indentation resistance. FiberFloor is certified asthma and allergy friendly by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation. It is also FloorScore certified and phthalate-free for better indoor air quality.
Product/collection: COREtec Plus, COREtec Plus XL
Floating floor type: Unilin angle/tap profile
Retail price range: COREtec Plus, $4.49-$4.99; COREtec Plus XL, $5.39-$5.99
About the product: Building on USFloors’ successful 2013 introduction of the patent-pending COREtec Plus glueless engineered luxury vinyl plank, the company started 2014 by nearly doubling the number of products in its LVT collection. The expanded assortment includes 5 x 48, 7 x 48 and 12 x 24 tiles, along with a new 18.5 x 24 selection. All products are 8mm thick.
COREtec Plus XL is 72 inches long by 9 inches wide and is 8.3mm thick. Its rustic-to-modern hardwood visuals feature exceptional clarity, a 20 mil commercial wearlayer and two coats of UV-acrylic for added stain resistance. COREtec Plus XL products are Greenguard Gold certified for indoor air quality and backed by lifetime wear/waterproof/structure warranties and a 10-year commercial wear warranty.
Points of differentiation
Armstrong: Top designs, new game-changing installation in luxury vinyl plank
Armstrong offers not one, not two, but four unique vinyl structures to meet virtually any performance and installation need—one that’s right for any lifestyle, décor or budget. Duality is the ultimate in comfort and durability combined into one floor. CushionStep has an unexpected level of comfort and warmth underfoot provided by its CushionCore construction. StrataMax provides the ultimate hard working and stain-resistant floor for the busiest of rooms and its ToughGuard II construction adds an unparalleled level of durability. Armstrong’s Traditional Felt offers best-in-class stain protection combined with ToughGuard durability. The latest in floating resilient floors includes Luxe Plank and Luxe Tile with FasTak installation. A collection that is visually appealing, highly water resistant and incredibly durable, Luxe is an ideal flooring for any home or business. The striking designs replicate the attractive color, texture and fine detail found in authentic hardwood and natural stone. Sturdy fiberglass-reinforced planks and tiles are appropriate for high-moisture areas and are highly resistant to rips, tears and gouges. Topped with a rugged urethane wear layer, Luxe Plank and Tile will resist scratches, scuffs and stains to guarantee floors will look newer longer, even in light commercial settings. And now the beauty and performance of Luxe features brand-new FasTak Installation—the quickest and easiest installation available, with no glue, pads or special tools needed. Simply position the plank or tile and press into place. With FasTak no drying time is required, so the floor can be walked on immediately. Luxe installs smoothly over most existing subfloors, including those with imperfections. The innovative, nylon-infused, pressure-sensitive adhesive allows Luxe to be easily repositioned during installation and then tightly grips/bonds to the subfloor.
Karndean: LooseLay lends itself to customization
An illustration of product innovation is Karndean LooseLay, an award-winning alternative to click LVT and laminate flooring. Taking its place as the most innovative new format of luxury vinyl flooring, Karndean LooseLay is designed for quick and easy installation. Offering superior fitting times, Karndean LooseLay’s unique friction grip backing and increased dimensional stability secures the floor firmly in place without the need for adhesives in many installations. The collection’s large-scale planks and tiles, combined with the fact it’s quick and easy to fit, means reduced installation time and costs. What’s more, Karndean LooseLay can be installed over most hard floors as long as they’re smooth, sound and dust-free. Rather than looking uniform and manufactured, each Karndean plank or tile has its own individual grain and appearance. Consumers can create an even greater individualized floor by laying the planks and tiles at different angles or patterns to create a customized arrangement. Among the distinguishing characteristics of a Karndean floor are the highly customizable product ranges. With 12 planks and eight tiles available, customers have the ability to create and design a floor that is unique to their personal style and space.
FreeFit: Patented, pure construction and versatile
FreeFit is the originator and multi-patent holder of loose lay LVT. The company currently holds three patents on the utilization of geometric patterns and protrusions on the backing of LVT. Composed of virgin vinyl, FreeFit and FreeForm are thick, extremely flexible and contain no harmful phthalates, recycled scrap or filler material of dubious origin, such as recycled Asian tires, power lines and toys. FreeFit is antimicrobial and antibacterial by design as well as Greenguard Children & Schools certified for contributing to the healthiest of indoor environments. Because FreeFit products are 4mm thick and available in 6-inch increments (6, 12, 18, 24, 36 and 48 inches), they can be easily mixed and matched. And because they’re not limited by locking systems or peal-and-stick strips, they can be installed facing any direction, quadrupling their pattern differentiation. When installed by a certified FreeFit installer, FreeFit is protected by an “Anything Goes,” no questions asked, 15-year commercial and limited lifetime residential warranty. FreeFit installs loose laid, perimeter secured or fully adhered depending on site conditions and application. FreeFit and its affiliate GTP Racing auto race team raise funds to support those living with autism. (More on this in an upcoming issue of FCNews.) For more information, call 631.946.9555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shaw Industries: Park Avenue passes the durability test
Park Avenue, a resilient floating plank from the new 5th & Main collection, is applicable for a wide range of residential and commercial installations. The line offers resilient flooring’s simple installation, lasting durability and easy maintenance with diverse design options. Shaw’s 5th & Main collection debuted as part of the performance test at Grand Central Terminal’s Holiday Fair in November 2013. Park Avenue was installed in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal, giving a fresh look to this iconic building and adding the appearance of fine aged hardwood to the floor. For six weeks, Park Avenue endured an extreme durability test. The result? It is still beautiful and still an excellent resilient flooring choice. With Park Avenue, Shaw’s resilient-vinyl plank floors create warm, inviting rooms. These planks are designed for heavy-traffic areas and stand up to the toughest real-life tests, the company said, even Grand Central. Installation is easy and quick, thanks to Shaw’s innovative no-glue option—VersaLock AG technology. In VersaLock AG styles, planks are laid directly over the subfloor with minimal floor prep and no messy adhesives. They simply lock together. The VersaLock system makes this style an easy remodeling or first flooring adventure. Shaw’s Park Avenue resilient flooring is a no-fuss solution to many flooring needs. It offers high style without high-drama maintenance, the company said, and is extremely durable. Other Shaw resilient flooring offerings are available using VersaLok AG technology.
USFloors: Sound and secure installation
What distinguishes USFloors’ COREtec Plus and COREtec Plus XL engineered luxury vinyl floors from ordinary glue down and solid locking LVT floors is the patent-pending construction. COREtec Plus floors are waterproof and durable like vinyl, yet rigid and easy enough for a single mechanic to install like laminate. The rigid plank of COREtec Plus eliminates subfloor telegraphing that can result in a floor with the wavy appearance that often appears in glue down and solid locking LVT installations, thus resulting in a dissatisfied end user. The rigidity of the 8mm thick COREtec Plus plank also makes it easier for the installer to handle, especially when installing a COREtec Plus XL plank that measures 6 feet long by 9 inches wide, minimizing the time it takes to install the floor. The company’s new angle/tap glueless installation profile provides a sound and secure installation that is intended to achieve minimal callbacks. Gary Keeble, product and marketing manager, said the extruded high density, waterproof core is dimensionally stable under normal conditions, removes the need to have transition strips every 30 feet in large areas, thus eliminating the trip hazards presented by unsightly t-molds required by ordinary floating floors. Keeble added that COREtec Plus and COREtec Plus XL engineered luxury vinyl floors are unlike all of the run-of-the-mill LVT floors that are flooding the flooring market and driving prices to a commodity level. COREtec Plus and COREtec Plus XL allow retailers to further capitalize on this exploding category by presenting consumers with a new, innovative, feature-rich and profitable LVT product.
EarthWerks: Continuing to stay ahead of the curve with multiple formats
Experience. Availability. Reliability. That is what EarthWerks believes differentiates its LVT from the competition. Considered one of the pioneers in LVT, EarthWerks has more than three decades of experience in innovating, designing and producing LVT. That gives the company—along with its distributors and retailers—a very large advantage. EarthWerks continues to bring new and innovative product to the market and stay ahead of the curve. Today, the company stocks upwards of 300 SKUs in LVT in the United States, which means a customer can find the quality she wants, whether commercial or residential, order it and know she can get it quickly, instead of finding out it can take months. At Surfaces 2014, EarthWerks’ Loose Lay Aurora Collection was the company’s focus. Quieter to walk on than ceramic, laminate or hardwood, and warmer and softer under your feet, it is impervious to moisture and spills, and is 100% recyclable. Aurora has been engineered with the company’s special backing and a glass fiber reinforcement layer creating additional dimensional stability. It is made with EarthWerks’ Tuff Shield, a double-coating method that adds extra strength to its urethane protectant coating. Because of EarthWerks’ special construction and coatings, maintenance is a snap; simply sweep and damp mop. And if damaged, it is easily repaired–pop one plank out, pop another one in. In addition, LinkWerks from EarthWerks continues as a leader in the glueless locking, floating floor category. Utilizing the patented Unilin click system, the Rapid Clic Collection continues to deliver high performance as a solution to unusual subfloor challenges in commercial and residential situations. Aurora and LinkWerks: Loose lay technology and click technology with the quality and availability customers demand.
Metroflor: Style meet substance in full range of applications
Metroflor’s LVT products run the gamut of specification, installation and price/value options. To that end, dealers can offer their customers the most appropriate—and profitable—Metroflor LVT solution for every job in every category: grip-strip, clic and loose lay. If a customer feels grip-strip is the fastest and easiest way to install LVT, dealers don’t have to persuade them otherwise with Metroflor. If clic is more advantageous or loose lay is the optimal solution, Metroflor offers all three solutions under one umbrella—with the company’s signature quality, style, price and performance. Where speed, value and ease of installation are driving factors, there’s Konecto grip-strip. Faster and less complicated, it’s frequently installed in multi-family and dormitory environments. Konecto is also built to last with a tough ceramic bead finish appropriate for virtually every environment, including healthcare. For residential, commercial, retail or corporate environments, many look to Metroflor’s Engage brand: an early entrant in the clic arena. Utilizing virgin vinyl and fiberglass stabilizing layers, Engage’s authentic wood and stone looks can be installed directly over most existing hard surfaces quickly and efficiently. Traditional dryback LVT has universal appeal both residentially and commercially. Metroflor’s branded Metroflor resilient flooring offers one of the finest alternatives to wood, ceramic and stone with sophisticated designs, tough wearlayers and finishes, and inherent moisture resistance, according to the company. Whether it’s grip strip, clic or dryback, Metroflor said it consistently delivers performance, design and profitability for industry partners who know they can count on the company every step of the way.
Mannington: Technology gives company a ‘lock’ on floating floors
In 2010, Mannington introduced LockSolid technology into its line of Adura Luxury Floors. This revolutionary technology, coupled with Mannington’s award-winning styles and designs, created what has been called “the best-performing floating luxury vinyl. Ever!” Since then, the LockSolid method has been implemented on dozens of Mannington’s Adura plank and tile designs. Utilizing Mannington’s extensive locking system experience, Adura with LockSolid technology delivers superior joint and shear strength. This proprietary locking system is fully licensed and patented. In fact, it’s the only locking system that comes with a No-Gap Guarantee. “The exceptional strength of the joint in a LockSolid product alleviates the inherent problems of the adhesive-based floating systems currently on the market,” said Ed Duncan, senior vice president of residential marketing at Mannington. Those familiar with the simplicity of today’s laminate locking system will also find Adura with LockSolid technology very easy to install in that there are no heavy tools, adhesives or underlayments required. And it installs more than 50% faster than traditional glue- down floors, Mannington said. Consumers love LockSolid, according to Mannington, not only because it uses no glues (thus, no odor), but because the floor can be put into service immediately after installation. To help demonstrate the ease of installation, Mannington has created a video, available on mannington.com and via the Mannington Flooring channel on YouTube: youtube.com/manningtonflooring.
Mohawk: Simplesse offers easy installation, unmatched durability, cutting-edge style
In response to heightened demand and preference for the product category, Mohawk has developed an assortment of LVT products within its Simplesse collection that feature innovative installation methods, durability options and style. Mohawk has a reputation for introducing products that employ the most innovative technologies in the flooring industry, and Simplesse is no exception. It utilizes Mohawk’s patented Uniclic technology, which the company said outpaces all other glueless locking systems in reliability and joint integrity. Consumers gravitate to the fact that Simplesse is not only aesthetically appealing but also durable. In addition to an array of fashion-forward hardwood and tile looks, it’s a good choice for high-traffic areas because it offers superior dent and scratch resistance. Also, because Simplesse is highly resistant to moisture, it can be installed anywhere, even in areas where there can be standing water like kitchens and bathrooms. This versatility appeals to consumers. Mohawk’s Simplesse is FloorScore certified, meaning it meets the indoor air quality emissions criteria of LEED, CHPS, the Green Guide for Health Care, and is recognized by a long list of healthy building programs. Simplesse is manufactured with 100% virgin vinyl containing no recycled content, which is a major benefit Mohawk retailers can leverage with their customers. Many competitive LVT products contain heavy metals, mercury and harmful chemicals, which can be found in recycled content. This gives retailers peace of mind when they sell Simplesse because consumers can have complete confidence that the Mohawk LVT floors are safe for their families.