May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25
By Ken Ryan
Flooring executives say there are several reasons why LVT and carpet tile—two modular options—represent the fastest growth and most popular flooring types for commercial interiors.
Modular flooring categories offer numerous options, enough to address virtually any budget, performance need or design requirement, according to Quentin Quathamer, commercial brand and marketing manager for Philadelphia Commercial, a division of Shaw Industries. “Modular flooring offers flexible design options via installation pattern. Combined with style, color and shape selection, a distinctive design can be easily achieved. They also mitigate less-than-perfect site conditions where less than smooth or dry subfloors exist, which can be budget-restricting hurdles or delay the use of the space you just designed or renovated.”
Others say carpet tile lends itself to enhanced design because designers can use the modularity of the tile to create spaces within a space and help with wayfinding. Nathan Stevenson, vice president of product management, Mohawk Group, noted that carpet tile is a good choice “for when you are renovating a commercial space with pre-existing furniture where you can essentially lift the case goods in the area an installer is working, replace the flooring underneath, lower the furniture, move to the next tile and keep the process moving along. Carpet tile’s benefits and flexibility help specifiers and end users meet many of their goals for commercial environments.”
In recent years, traditional LVT emerged as a versatile and durable product offering myriad design options to provide an excellent value proposition. “The traditional LVT market continues to evolve with modification that impart various performance attributes,” said Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer/executive vice president, sales, Congoleum. “Modifications to the base can deliver improvements in sound rating, indentation or installation options. Changes to the thickness of the wear layer can be made based on the type of space, the maintenance schedule and anticipated level of foot traffic to ensure optimal performance. Combine performance options with an array of design options, relative ease of installation and competitive price point, and you have a strong value proposition.”
Many flooring observers also agree that LVT is the smart choice for commercial applications because it offers a bevy of benefits other flooring surfaces cannot. “From a design standpoint,” said Alan Rowell, director of sales for Aspecta by Metroflor, “LVT fits in with the more European contemporary look that is gaining popularity in commercial settings.”
Flexibility and versatility are two other attributes in LVT’s favor in the commercial segment. “We often think about our tile products as building blocks, and our customer has the ability to control how the floor defines their space, regardless of whether it is carpet or LVT,” said John Crews, manager of Lifestyle Studio, Shaw Contract.
Amanda O’Neill, senior product manager for Armstrong, said that because LVT’s composition includes PVC, the product is much more resistant to damages in addition to being water and scratch resistant. “LVT’s flexibility in terms of modular shapes and sizes, broad palette of colors, durable long-lasting performance and easy maintenance make it idea for many commercial spaces. Plus, improved embossing techniques give LVT a much more realistic look than laminate.”
For Mannington’s Al Boulogne, vice president of commercial resilient business, LVT’s success in the commercial arena is all about versatility, as it can solve many installation-related issues. “Floating versions and more traditional glue-down versions of LVT, coupled with specialty adhesives, solve moisture issues from the subfloor,” Boulogne said. “Solid core products can also go over existing subfloors helping the end user avoid the high cost of ripping up tiles. Plank and tile formats in LVT also help to make repairs of damages much easier.”
Mark Tickle, director of marketing, American Biltrite, said the nearly unlimited visuals and colors differentiate this waterproof vinyl product in a commercial setting. “Simple maintenance, no stripping and waxing [needed]; then there is the much lower cost for installation and maintenance with a simple damp mop. Finally, better technologies have made it more durable to commercial traffic use.”
Applications for every segment
The question is not which commercial segments favor carpet tile/LVT but rather which commercial segments don’t? Indeed, markets like education, corporate, healthcare, government, hospitality, student housing and retail all are thriving with LVT and carpet tile applications.
The general consensus is the two big commercial growth segments are hospitality and workplace. Both are relatively new segments for LVT. “Having the right design for the workplace has been the challenge in such a legacy, carpet-oriented segment,” Boulogne said. “By coordinating design with what works on the soft surface side, we can make the transition a comfortable one for designers.”
Hospitality’s acceptance of LVT over soft surface products has grown lately due to health/hygiene concerns and LVT’s longer life cycle. By the same token, VCT is losing ground within education because LVT is easier to maintain and does not have an institutional look and feel. Milton Goodwin, vice president of commercial sales for Karndean Designflooring, allowed that the hospitality segment is turning away from carpet and hard tile because it is difficult to keep the grout clean. “The cleanability of LVT is a big thing. LVT doesn’t harbor dust and allergens; there is softness underfoot; it is hygienic and offers upscale looks without the costs.”
Cali Bamboo has seen significant growth among its hospitality, multi-unit housing, gym and retail storefront clients. These sectors are looking for flooring that can be installed easily and won’t have to be maintained or replaced as often. “Our customers also like the improvements in the luxury vinyl look that Cali Vinyl’s HiFi Imaging allows,” said Tom Hume, vice president of marketing. “The introduction of improved LVT has opened doors to clients who tend to shy away from hardwood or carpet.”