Posted on

NeoCon turns 50: Design, innovation take center stage at milestone event

By Lindsay Baillie

Chicago—NeoCon, one of the largest commercial interior design shows in North America, concluded its 50th edition last month, drawing in more than 50,000 attendees—a 5% increase from 2017. The Mart in Chicago was bursting with 140 showrooms, where roughly 350 exhibitors showcased the latest and greatest in corporate, hospitality, healthcare, education and retail design.

According to show management, the show floor was completely occupied, which was in keeping with NeoCon trends seen over the past 10 years. What’s more, flooring was the second highest represented commercial industry. “The fact that this was our 50th edition added a lot of buzz and energy,” said Byron Morton, vice president of leasing, NeoCon.

The scores of A&D professionals in attendance echoed those sentiments. “We could tell from the energetic crowds at The Mart that the excitement of NeoCon was at an all-time high this year,” said John Hopkins, principal and design director, IA Interiors Architects’ Chicago office. “We loved that there was such a focus on acoustic solutions—it’s an undervalued component when it comes to privacy, workplaces and open environments. We also noticed there were a lot of natural materials and finishes, a welcome return after the influx of the cold, industrial materials of the past few years.”

Angie Lee, AIA, IIDA, principal, design director-interiors, FXCollaborative Architects LLP, New York, agreed. “I have attended NeoCon for the last three years and continue to be impressed by the immense energy and creativity of the manufacturers, designers and associations. I saw a range of products implementing unexpected, thought-provoking uses of color, pattern and texture.”

Vendors attributed much of that enthusiasm to three primary factors—the strength of key end-use market sectors, the bevy of new products that provide both aesthetic and performance solutions, and positive trends in non-residential construction spending.

“Traditional hard surface markets like retail and healthcare still are very strong, and non-traditional markets such as offices and hospitality are shifting toward hard surfaces in many areas they did not consider before,” Robert Brockman, segment marketing manager, commercial, Armstrong Flooring, told FCNews.

LVT in particular is driving commercial flooring consumption across several end-use markets as it continues to exceed the growth of the once-dominant broadloom sector. This is especially the case in hotels. “Most hospitality end users are also looking to make a change to something more timeless in terms of pattern and color,” noted Al Boulogne, vice president, commercial resilient business, Mannington Commercial. “That, coupled with the easier maintenance requirements, make it an ideal product for these environments.”

But it’s not just hospitality that’s driving LVT specifications. Observers say healthcare holds the biggest growth potential for LVT, especially in areas such as hotel lobbies, hospital corridors and senior living spaces. “Slip/fall issues help LVT vs. other hard surface options,” said Paul Eanes, vice president of new business development, Metroflor.

Product trends
The vast array of innovative new products on display at the show reflected diverse requirements of architects, specifiers and designers. To keep up with demand, flooring manufacturers are developing new products across both hard and soft surface arenas that appeal to multiple commercial sectors at a time. In addition to developing products that fulfill “resi-mercial” demands, manufacturers are incorporating more pops of color to assist designers in creating unique, productive spaces.

In terms of hard surfaces, manufacturers continue to incorporate sustainable, biophilic design, with resilient flooring mimicking stone, cement, wood and other natural looks. Armstrong Flooring, for example, rolled out a heterogeneous sheet product called Mixers, which was inspired by the vibrant colors of different cocktails. Focused on its heterogeneous and homogeneous sheet lines, Armstrong presented attendees with new products that boast equal performance. “The update there is two fold,” Brockman stated, adding that designers can specify both sheet lines together without performance issues. “It’s not only new designs and patterns, but Diamond 10 technology has been added to the heterogeneous line.”

New to NeoCon, Cleo Contract—a Congoleum brand—highlighted its non-vinyl, non-PVC product. Made up of 85% limestone, Cleo has an ultra-low VOC, high-performance clear coating for durability and performance. What’s more, its visuals are digitally printed, which allows the company to produce custom looks. To help designers show what the product looks like after a complete install, Cleo Contract developed digitally printed papers that can be updated in real time with the current SKUs, according to Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer and executive vice president, sales, Congoleum.

Also riding the non-vinyl train is Mannington Commercial with its latest non-vinyl alternative resilient tile, Cirro. Offered in 20 visuals and four different sizes in tile and plank formats, Cirro can be installed using traditional resilient adhesives.

Also new from Mannington is Northern Wonders, which was inspired by a designer’s visit to see the Northern Lights. “Its colors and design are a culmination of ideas developed during the trip,” said Whitney LeGate, business manager, commercial LVT, Mannington. The product is available in nine colorways.

Over at the Karndean Designflooring space, the emphasis was on designer education as well as the seemingly endless options available through its Korlok, glue-down and loose-lay products. The company’s grout strips, available in 16 colors, were installed in the booth to show how to incorporate fake grout lines as well as pops of color to a SKU. “We’ve expanded our solid color offering to allow for both bold, saturated pops of colors and pastels to align with 2019 color forecasts, great for projects that require an elevated brand identity or to add a bit of whimsy,” said Jenne Ross, director of marketing. “We’re excited that these custom colors will be available on-demand and custom cut at our Pittsburgh facility.”

One of the products Raskin Industries showcased was Ceramix, a resilient tile with built-in grout lines that’s available in a variety of visuals, including stone, marble and concrete. “We have 36 x 36 tiles that give you a really clean smooth concrete look,” said Ted Rocha, vice president of sales. “It would be something that you’d see in an Apple store, for instance.”

Aspecta released its Aspecta 10 line, a premium multi-layer flooring with Isocore technology. The new offering features a 28mil wear layer and can be installed floating corner to corner—thanks in part to its innovative vertical locking system. “This is the Rolls Royce of multi-layer flooring,” said Marcel Kies, global CEO, Aspecta. “What we’ve tried to create is a good, better, best product.”

Shannon Specialty Floors displayed its new Naturescapes line, which was designed with the help of Jason McLennan, author, founder and creator of the Living Building Challenge. Naturescapes, he explained, is a resilient flooring product made with organic polymers. “It’s not vinyl, it’s free of all Red List chemicals and it’s the first Living Product Certified resilient flooring in the industry. This product class is highly sought after.”

Roppe highlighted multiple products at the show, including its Northern Parallels Chevron LVT planks available in a 9¼ x 59¼ format in three color ranges. According to Dee Dee Brickner, marketing manager, the line reflects strong demand for one of the most popular patterns—a directional pattern that’s often seen in real hardwood installations. “By offering a left and right design, these floors can also be laid in the same direction to create another unique look by using only one side.”

Looking beyond LVT, manufacturers in the rubber segment also looked to generate some buzz by showcasing products in on-trend, vibrant colors. Suitable for multiple applications, these manufacturers have developed customer cut and base profile programs to provide designers with greater options.

Then there was American Biltrite’s AB Pure, which features its signature Nfuse technology (Here, the coating that is applied directly into the flooring.) “Normally you would take [a rubber floor] out of the box, glue it down and then you’d scrub and clean it to release the mold agent,” Mark Tickle, director of marketing, explained. “With AB Pure, once you lay it down you use a damp mop on the surface. Then as soon as the adhesive has cured you can have people on it.”

Flexco is incorporating different wood-look visuals as well as new rubber plank sizes to its portfolio. “We’re also going to be launching some of our new base profiles, which is catching a lot of people’s interest,” said Haley Plank, marketing manager. “We’re also working on sustainability for our products. We have two new HPDs coming out for our rubber tile and treads.”

Procedo Flooring’s new Maxime rubber flooring line—available in eight colors in a 24 x 24 tile format—was designed to be installed across multiple settings, including educational facilities, sports facilities and retail areas. “We also started doing water jet cuts on the product for greater design options,” said Pierre Lefort, national sales manager.

All shapes and sizes
“Some of the coolest things in floor covering,” noted NeoCon’s Morton, “has to be the different shapes and textures” on display at the show. To that end, Tarkett showcased several products ranging from Pentagonals, which won a Best of NeoCon Gold, and Woven Fringe, a Best of NeoCon Platinum winner.

According to Terry Mowers, vice president chief creative officer, Pentagonals features rubber in a way that highlights a wide range of design possibilities. “You can get whatever color palettes you want within the system and a variety of shapes.”

Woven Fringe complements Tarkett’s rubber offering by providing a resi-mercial solution that is part of the company’s area rug program. According to Mowers, the product’s neutral color palette fits right in with current trends. “We’re seeing grays moving to healthcare in combination with other colorings. We’re also seeing grays getting warmer but we’re not seeing them move that far away.”

As hard surfaces continue to gain more share across various commercial markets, end users are incorporating more area rugs in their designs. At the same time, carpet tile is also gaining steam. New soft surfaces continue to follow sustainable, biophilic design while brightening up spaces with hints of color.

Case in point: Aquafil’s booth displayed clothing and carpet featuring Econyl fiber. According to Kathy Long, brand communications manager, the booth was designed to show how fashion and carpet flow together. “We’re trying to show the endless possibilities of Econyl,” Long said. “We have 28 new colors to the Econyl collection—new neutrals and pops.”

Patcraft highlighted Dichroic, a PET carpet tile made from recycled plastic bottles. “We’ve worked on two products to pull plastic waste out of the environment,” said Kieren Corcoran, director of performance markets. “We’ve taken the bottle chip that can’t be recycled and turned it into fibers. We can then recycle it again at the end of its life back into pellets.”

EF Contract, which made its NeoCon debut, highlighted several carpet collections, including Rust Dye. “What we did was take metals and went through the process of rust dying them and capturing what they leave behind as they decay,” Susan Curtis, vice president, design and marketing, explained. “We’re all about tile, skinny planks and giving the designer flexible to design their own patterns.”

New to Mannington’s broadloom products is Moire, a carpet tile offering developed in conjunction with installation artist Gabriel Dawe. Moire mimics an installation Dawe completed in The Mart, which featured 30 miles of colorful fiber organized in prism format. Interestingly, the installation changed its colors as attendees passed by.

Mohawk put the spotlight on several new soft surface offerings, including Sunweave, a collection of woven broadloom and rug products featuring Heathered Hues Duracolor premium nylon, and Crafted Convergence, which draws on influence from Native American pottery and baskets to everyday Japanese and African garments. “With Crafted Convergence, we’re starting to transfer more hospitality looks into the workplace,” said Mark Oliver, vice president, workplace and retail. “The other beauty is it’s broadloom, but we’re also offering it as a rug.”

Posted on

Aspecta reorganizes sales team

Norwalk, Conn.—Aspecta has promoted and made role changes in its sales organization. “We are implementing these changes to grow our business, provide our distributors with better service and achieve a more concentrated focus on our Aspecta commercial business,” said Harlan Stone, group CEO.

Marcel Kies

Kies, managing director of Aspecta’s European branch—Aspecta B.V.—for the past three years, has been named the global CEO of Aspecta. “Marcel has done a remarkable job establishing the Aspecta brand throughout Europe and other parts of the world,” said Russ Rogg, president and CEO, Metroflor Corporation. “Aspecta is a global brand that requires global leadership coupled with local management. With that goal in mind, Kies will work closely with me and our newly appointed director of sales, Alan Rowell, to leverage the scale of the brand while tailoring our sales and marketing approach to the North American market.”

Kies is a respected international sales and marketing business manager with over 30 years of experience in the flooring industry for both B2B and B2C business environments. His leadership thrives working with geographically diverse and multicultural teams.

Alan Rowell, formerly Southeast district sales manager for Metroflor, has been appointed to Aspecta director of sales for North America. Rowell will lead the commercial sales manager team, working in concert with Aspecta distributors to focus on the right customers and ensure that salesforce.com and Reed Construction Data are used to their fullest capabilities. “Alan has shown a keen instinct for our commercial business,” said Rogg. “Beyond sales, he will focus on ‘train the trainer’ initiatives to make sure that the specification and commercial sales teams are fully equipped to be effective ambassadors of the Aspecta brand.” 

Posted on

NeoCon Preview

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By Mara Bollettieri

 

This year NeoCon celebrates its 50th anniversary of showcasing innovative flooring designs for the commercial contract market. The three-day event kicks off June 11 at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

The exhibition will feature thousands of new flooring products from a plethora of manufacturers and includes 100 CEU seminars, various programs, special anniversary celebrations, marquee presentations and more.

Following are some of the latest commercial products that will be on display during the show.

Aquafil USA

Econyl regenerated nylon opens up endless possibilities for architects, designers and carpet producers seeking a synthetic covering or carpet that performs beyond expectations.

With the addition of 28 new colors, Econyl yarn is now available in 170 options, all eligible for LEED points. Designers can create performance-driven carpets with Econyl while giving their clients an innovative sustainable solution.

According to Aquafil, Econyl regenerated nylon means no waste, no new resources—just endless possibilities.

Altro Floors

Altro Orchestra resilient flooring has been engineered to create the ideal environment to heal, learn and live. For demanding areas with constant foot traffic, this vinyl sheet provides comfort underfoot and sound reduction. With a grand palette of 40 colors, designers can create the right atmosphere for their spaces.

Altro Orchestra is a 2.8mm sheet vinyl made with 22% rapidly renewable, bio-based content and is certified for low VOCs, thereby helping facilities achieve LEED goals.

American Biltrite

ABPure rubber flooring tiles with Nfuse technology are ready to use right out of the box. The patent-pending treatment allows foot traffic immediately after installation. This tile requires time-consuming set up; is extremely durable against soiling, staining and scuffing; significantly reduces installation downtime; is easier to clean and is declared Red List free.

Cleo Contract

Cleo Contract is a patented construction that combines engineered performance with visual artistry. It has a waterproof, flexible core that is 85% limestone and contains zero PVC, plasticizers, phthalates or chloro-chemicals. Solvent-free, high-fidelity digital imaging offers nearly unlimited design possibilities with nuances in shading and detail. An ultra-low VOC, high-performance clear coating delivers durability and performance.

DuChâteau

DuChâteau’s Vinyl DeLuxe Grand offers unique visuals and a European aesthetic in a durable and low-maintenance flooring option. Available in 7- and 9-inch-wide plank formats, Vinyl Deluxe Grand is the latest chapter in luxury engineered floating floors with LuxCor waterproof core, easy click installation and attached HushWalk underlayment. This collection captures the beauty of wood and appeals to residential and commercial customers.

EF Contract

New materials for product development often focus on a single feature—lightweight, durable, tech-enabled. The EF Contract Design Studio played with these concepts in its new Kicks collection, inspired by innovative materials and interpreted through the company’s own innovative tufting and high-performance backing technologies. These inspirations produced a collection that is versatile, while the modular formats enable designers to create complex installations as well as unified, simple fields of texture.

Fletco Carpets

LockTiles is a unique carpet tile shape with laser-cut edges that interlock to fit together in all directions, meter for meter, no matter the size of the area. LockTiles guarantees an effective installation with a homogeneous surface, making the joints less visible. It is for users who want the best in flat-woven carpet tiles and its advantages yet still desire the look of broadloom.

Flexco

The FreeFlex rubber tile collection embodies true flexibility. A variety of new sizes offer patterns and textures with the durability and resilience of rubber. Sizes include: 6 x 36, 12 x 36 and 18 x 36, These additional sizes complement the company’s existing collection of 12 x 12, 18 x 18 and 36 x 36 tiles.

Johnsonite

Pentagonals from Johnsonite, a Tarkett brand, is a collection of three distinct shapes created with Cradle to Cradle certified rubber flooring. Johnsonite has turned three convex polygons into rubber tiles; each is available in Johnsonite’s full rubber flooring line, meaning designers can choose from nearly limitless textures and colors to create truly unique flooring. Rubber flooring is naturally slip resistant with shock-absorbing qualities as well as acoustic properties. The line is also sustainable.

Karndean Designflooring

Textum from the Opus collection was inspired by forms in concrete. It was created as a hybrid abstract wood visual that combines the grain detailing and plank format of traditional European oak flooring with the effect of imprinted concrete. These 36 x 6-inch planks act as a wood visual but can also be used with design strips to create the look of porcelain tile without the practical drawbacks. It features a 20 mil wear layer and a 15-year commercial warranty.

Mannington Commercial

The Cirro collection, a non-vinyl alternative to LVT, is a thermoplastic composite resilient tile that offers the same versatility as LVT. Cirro does not contain any ortho-phthalate plasticizers and is a low-emitting product. In addition, its sustainable construction features recycled content. Available in 20 visuals, it’s designed to bring beauty and sustainability to any space. Featuring 16 wood visuals in 71⁄2 x 48 and 41⁄2 x 36 plank sizes, two stone patterns and two abstract visuals in 18 x 18 and 12 x 24 tile sizes.

Metroflor

Metroflor will showcase the new Aspecta Ten Tilt and Tones collection. The latest LVT design breakthrough pairs four new geometrically and biophilically inspired Tilt tiles with the neutral Tones tile palette. The 24 x 24 tiles are presented in four color groups, each consisting of unique Tilt tile designs that can be paired with two companion Tones tiles. The line is suitable for most commercial environments.

Mohawk Group

Pivot Point ERT responds to a world population that continues to urbanize with patterns and colors inspired by nature and an alternative chemistry, Red List-free, PVC-free enhanced resilient tile. Using biophilic principles, its design motifs can contribute to reducing stress, enhancing creativity, improving well-being and expediting healing. It features wood, textile and stone visuals, and is designed to achieve Living Product Challenge Petal Certification.

Raskin Industries

Raskin’s Elevations AcoustX meets the demand for something unique in the flooded LVT market with fashion-forward, proprietary designs created by Michael Raskin, CEO. The enhanced aesthetics of AcoustX complement the product’s performance.

AcoustX’s pre-attached underlayment offers an acoustic solution while reducing installation time (no sound-abatement layer is required). AcoustX can be installed over most existing hard surface floors. As part of its construction, it includes a solid fiberglass sheet.

Shannon Specialty Floors

Teknoflor Naturescapes HPD is the brand’s first organic sheet good made with ecuran, an organically derived polyurethane composite material processed from plant-based oils such as castor oil and naturally occurring minerals like chalk. This resilient sheet flooring has all the advantages of sheet vinyl—durability, easy maintenance and versatility—without the PVC. It comes in 24 designs across three distinct styles that can be used independently or together.

Shaw Contract

Haven is a collection of modular carpet tiles designed to add the comforts of a residential space to the contract market. It conveys the warmth of the home in all places where people connect with colleagues and friends by utilizing color, texture and pattern. By blurring old distinctions between domestic and commercial spaces, it embraces a more nuanced understanding of how society lives today—finding home wherever creativity takes the end user.

Tandus Centiva

Tandus Centiva, a Tarkett brand, will exhibit Color Play—a product based on the company’s latest design research in education and healthcare spaces. The palette includes 24 hues in each of the three pattern options for a total of 72 product solutions. Color Play features Tarkett’s TechTonic—a shift forward in performance for hard surface floors. Its advanced new polyurethane technology is super tough and resists scratching, abrasions, scuffing and staining.

 

Posted on

LVT, carpet tile make the (commercial) grade

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Contract: State of the industry—Key end-use sectors drive specifications

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By K.J. Quinn

 

In many ways the commercial contractor flooring market is like an onion—as you delve into each sector, one layer at a time, you start uncovering macro issues impacting flooring choices that go beyond traditional metrics. Sustainability, wellness principles and environmental impacts are among the major factors affecting facility design across the board, experts say.

“Manufacturers have increased focus on the impacts of their products on occupant well-being and productivity, offering a wider range of aesthetic and functional solutions to deliver against the requests of designers’ clients,” said Matthew Miller, president, Interface Americas.

Industry projections indicate the commercial market is on pace to experience similar growth as last year, with some segments faring much better than others. To put it in perspective, soft surfaces generated an estimated $3.6 to $4 billion in sales and upwards of 300 million square yards last year, according to industry estimates. Carpet tile claimed approximately 50% of volume and 60% of the value over broadloom—increases of 9% and 10%, respectively, over 2016.

Many trends that impacted commercial segments last year are carrying over into 2018. “I think the market for carpet will continue to lose share to hard surfaces,” said Brenda Knowles, vice president of marketing for Shaw Industries’ commercial business. “We’ll continue to see an emphasis on product design across all segments and more offerings that combine soft and hard surfaces.”

Nonetheless, there is still a good amount of broadloom being sold into commercial spaces, especially in sectors that demand a luxurious look and feel underfoot. “We still see some higher-end broadloom sold to the hospitality, legal and financial services sectors,” observed Richard French, vice president of sales, Bentley Mills. “At the high end of the spectrum, carpet tile is still not able to meet aesthetic needs.”

Hard surface seizes share

The market size for hard surfaces is nearly as much as carpet, estimated at $3.7 billion in sales. But that’s where the similarities end. Sales and volume grew by double digits, led by ceramic tile and stone ($1.45 million in 2017 sales), rubber ($650 million) and luxury vinyl tile ($600 million), according to industry estimates.

LVT is the fastest growing sector, with sales rising by double digits and usage expanding across all segments. “Hard surface growth in the commercial segment is being driven by LVT and ceramic,” Jeff Fenwick, president and COO, Tarkett North America, told FCNews. “LVT is showing up in more commercial spaces and design features of ceramic are taking it out of the ‘back of the house’ and letting it be utilized in other spaces.”

VCT, estimated at $250 million in 2017 sales, and sheet goods, which generated about $300 million, remain viable options. Healthcare and education, long strongholds of the sector, are reportedly losing market share. Hardwood, laminate flooring and linoleum are being specified for certain niches, although each category accounts for only a small percentage (less than 5% apiece) of the overall commercial market, statistics show. “For people who want that visual a little different and want to make more of a statement than a neutral gray floor, then linoleum is your answer,” said Denis Darragh, vice president, North America, Forbo Flooring.

While LVT dominates the headlines, one category maintaining steady growth is ceramic. While it’s difficult to determine sales and volume due to fragmented distribution channels, anecdotal research indicates tile commands approximately 15% of total commercial flooring sales and volume, with specified contract accounting for about 70% of the business. Growth rates are projected to mirror last year, when the category grew an estimated 6% in sales and 5% in square footage.

End-use activity

There are diverse applications for flooring within the five major sectors of the commercial business, the majority of which (an estimated 70% to 75%) is specified contract and the remainder Main Street commercial applications. Each has its own set of issues, trends and requirements which, in some cases, are unique to specific areas. As such, flooring choices and volume are expected to vary this year in some segments while remaining constant in others, industry watchers say.

“Traditional hard surface markets like retail and healthcare still are very strong, and non-traditional markets such as offices and hospitality are shifting toward hard surfaces in many areas they did not consider before,” said Robert Brockman, segment marketing manager, commercial, Armstrong Flooring.

The largest sector remains corporate/offices, representing roughly 40% of commercial flooring sales. Design strategies have traditionally centered on integrating natural elements into work spaces that help energize employees, encourage collaboration and make them feel more at home. “The goal is to leave work at the end of the day feeling recharged,” said Sharon Steinberg, AIA, LEEP AP, a principal architect at Stantec’s Houston office. “The design of the space, including flooring materials, can contribute to these feelings.”

Carpet tile has emerged as the top flooring choice, representing an estimated 55% to 60% share of the segment. “Carpet tile reduces sound transmission and provides underfoot comfort,” Interface’s Miller stated. “Carpet tile is also easy to upkeep and maintain—and since it is modular, it can easily be replaced or redesigned, providing the flexibility to update or refresh flooring as needed.”

Industry observers report the use of hard surfaces such as LVT, hardwood, porcelain tile and polished concrete is expanding beyond coffee and bar/break areas and into more diverse office environments. “While tile usage is typically limited to areas such as lobbies, bathrooms and kitchenettes, we predict there will be more tile being used in traditionally unexpected spaces,” said Gianni Mattioli, executive vice president, product and marketing, Dal-Tile. He cited advancements in the tile printing technology space as one of the primary reasons.

Another sector to watch is healthcare, which some believe represent the greatest growth potential for LVT. “Slip/fall issues help LVT vs. other hard surface options as well as infection control,” said Paul Eanes, vice president of new business development, Metroflor. “The segment is now more receptive to LVT in most places except operating rooms.”

Ceramic, porcelain and terrazzo tile are commonly found in hallways, making it easier to maneuver rolling equipment and mobile aids. “The health benefits and low maintenance of tile makes it ideal for this space, and our advancements in manufacturing have allowed us to make tile slip resistant through our proprietary StepWise technology, catering to residents’ safety needs,” Dal-Tile’s Mattioli said.

Fashion and function are paramount in hospitality, an industry reportedly investing millions of dollars to remodel their properties. It is expected to remain a bedrock segment for broadloom in particular as high-end products are the norm for guest rooms and public areas. “People still want to feel a soft surface when they hit the floor,” Shaw’s Knowles pointed out. “So even though the trend is towards hard surface, we’re seeing a combination of the two—and we’re providing solutions for that.”

LVT is reportedly growing at a faster rate than broadloom as the product gains wider acceptance, especially in guest rooms. “Most of these hospitality end users are also looking to make a change to something more timeless in terms of pattern and color,” observed Al Boulogne, vice president, commercial resilient business, Mannington Commercial. “That, coupled with the easier maintenance requirements, make it an ideal product for these environments.”

Further fueling usage is hotel owners’ interest in switching to interior decorating products that blend with the latest design styles and last longer—a big reason why ceramic is making inroads. “Designers in the hospitality space demand unique designs, and we are taking style and design to the next level through our latest introductions,” Dal-Tile’s Mattioli said.

One segment at the forefront of design is retail as end users not only seek products that are trendy, but also address performance/functional issues.

“You can create a pattern in a hardwood or stone look that leads you into different departments of the retail store,” noted Milton Goodwin, vice president of commercial sales, Karndean Designflooring. “There’s a lot of mixing and matching of SKUs.”

Even the education sector is getting a little more sophisticated in terms of the design aesthetic, observers report. “It’s copying what we’ve seen in other public segments by trying to become a little more trendy with their looks,” Mannington’s Boulogne stated. “So that pushes more and more business to the LVT category, where there are more design opportunities.”

R&D efforts center on beefing up performance levels to ensure flooring meets the varying needs of each space. “Designers can take LVT into places that maybe they hadn’t considered before,” added Melissa Quick, product and marketing manager, AVA by Novalis Innovative Flooring. “All of this has contributed to more confidence in the use of LVT in Main Street and specified spaces.”

 

 

 

Posted on

HD Expo: Hospitality takes its cues from residential design

May 14/21, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 24

By Steven Feldman

Las Vegas—Things are changing in hospitality. Guest rooms are moving more to hard service. Select service hotels—the 2- and 3-star properties—are growing and garnering more attention than luxury hotels. And technology is yielding better performing hardwood for public spaces.

“We are seeing a lot more mid-scale hotels, what they are calling select service, and a lot less of the 4- and 5-star hotels with the huge ballrooms and lobbies,” said John Reader, general manager, Desso Hospitality, a division of Tarkett. “That means there is a lot more emphasis on guest rooms, where the hotels make the money, and a lot less emphasis on the public space.”

As such, while the company is seeing much more traction in public spaces with hard surface and modular than, say, five years ago, the real growth is in select service. To that end, Desso showcased a patterned LVT to almost identically match a carpet tile. Collection Infinies by Tarkett is a high-definition LVT that invites users to customize four innovative designs with its proprietary co-creation tool. The technology allows users to select colors from a predetermined palette and personalize the patterns to their liking.

Talk to LVT suppliers, and they will attribute their increasing success in the hospitality segment to the product’s ability to provide solutions—whether it’s installation, maintenance or design flexibility. Take Karndean Designflooring, for example, which at HD Expo put the spotlight on Korlok, its entry into the rigid core arena. “It is increasing in popularity because of the fact it can go over imperfect subfloors,” Emil Mellow, director of public relations, told FCNews. “Someone just came by seeking to replace a ceramic tile floor with grout but didn’t want to rip it up. Korlok is a perfect solution because it will go right over it.”

Shaw Hospitality prides itself on offering different types of solutions for various types of spaces, according to John Crews, design manager, Lifestyles Studio, which includes the hospitality business. Among its centerpieces at HD Expo was Natural Choreography, a collaboration with Rockwell Group. Natural Choreography utilizes custom, end-cut block wood and sheared marble floor surfaces, which are signature interior elements for high-end hospitality projects. The patterns mimic natural stone and wood with “metal” inlay by creating high-definition scans of real lumber and stone. The idea is to bring these exclusive materials to mass hospitality as a unique, cost-effective solution. “We are taking natural elements and adding a twist,” Crews said. “It’s something a little different for public spaces and guest rooms.”

Republic Floors made its HD Expo debut with its patented Pure SPC, which the company claims is a step above what’s currently on the market. As Rotem Eylor, founder and CEO, explained, “Pure SPC offers a density of anywhere from 1200 psi to 2400 psi. It is made from four different stone powders with special polymers inside to make the material stable. Our claims ratio is less than 0.01%. The product is good in heat or cold, and it doesn’t need acclimation. It doesn’t expand and contract. For hospitality, it can go anywhere—public areas, guest rooms, even in the shower.”

Metroflor featured its Aspecta brand, which is finding favor in hotel guest rooms. Its Aspecta Ornamental line allows flexibility of design with a custom print overlay on a 2.5mm vinyl body. “It’s more of customized feel without a customized budget,” said Alan Rowell, director of sales, Aspecta. It allows a designer to create something beyond a monolithic design.”

Bringing past to present

Personalization of space and the need for a tactile experience—that’s what some of the carpet mills sought to address via their HD Expo introductions. “People are still craving the texture and experience to be able to connect with the product,” noted Jackie Detmer, vice president of design and product development, Mohawk Group, which features the Durkan brand for this segment. “Our new Crafted Convergence was inspired by a collaboration with the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, N.M. The carpet is modern but inspired by patterns that have been in [existence] for thousands of years.”

It was a similar story at Mannington Commercial, where Amanda Swindall, marketing director, talked about the continuation of personalization in design as well as what she called “resi-mercial” (making hospitality settings feel more like the comforts of home). In response to that trend, a new carpet tile called Heirloom, based on an old Czechoslovakian wedding dress, was previewed for a summer debut. “Look how the yarn comes in and out and how the color plays. It’s a handcrafted look that’s based on disintegration over time.”

Wood-strong

Hospitality is traditionally a segment that utilizes hardwood primarily in public spaces, but given the demands of the application, the wood must perform. In fact, hospitality is the No. 1 market for Nydree Flooring, whose products are acrylic infused, making them three to four times harder than regular wood, according to Jason Brubaker, vice president of sales and marketing. “Depending on the level of the property, our products could go in common areas, lobbies, restaurants and, in some cases, the guest rooms.”

Monarch came to HD Expo featuring its two main brands: Monarch Plank Hardwood Flooring, which is its quick-ship stocking collection, and Royal Custom Plank and Parquet, a wide array of unfinished offerings. According to Danny Harrington, vice president of marketing, Monarch’s products are suitable for hospitality applications due to a very heavy commercial finish, which features UV-cured oil.

Posted on

Aspecta's website puts spotlight on Biophilic Design

Norwalk, Conn.—Aspecta by Metroflor encourages architects, designers and end users to take a deep dive into Biophilic Design as they visit the newly enhanced aspectaflooring.com and explore how this emerging discipline is reflected in products throughout the entire Aspecta portfolio of commercial LVT floors.

At Metroflor, Biophilic Design is not an afterthought, it is an integral approach inherent to the company’s culture of supporting design that truly promotes wellness and fosters meaningful connections between people and nature. Metroflor is guiding the industry of Biophilic Design forward, inspiring designers to create environments for both human and ecological health and well-being.

“At Aspecta, we are taking a leadership position in the flooring industry in promoting Biophilic Design,” said Gary Keeble, director of marketing.

Strong interest in the company’s Biophilic Design & Resilient Flooring CEU motivated the integration of the Biophilic Design story and its influence upon its product design throughout the new Aspecta website. “The architect and design community clearly is hungry for information about the biophilia story and its potential for positive impact—within the built environment in general and flooring in particular,” said Keeble.

The new Biophilic Design features include: a Biophilic Design page that defines the philosophy and explains how it enhances the indoor environment through its multiple benefits along with in-depth information on all the biophilic elements and patterns; biophilic elements and patterns added to the product filter to search for products using biophilic criteria; an Aspecta product matrix that identifies which elements apply to each of Aspecta’s 200+ flooring products, with links to product pages, and a downloadable PDF for offline reference; on individual Aspecta product pages, the ability to mouse over each Biophilic Design element and pattern for a brief description with link back to the Biophilic Design page for deeper content; an invitation to request a presentation of the Biophilic Design CEU by an Aspecta representative, which is also available on AEC Daily.

Aspecta is on the leading edge of advocating Biophilic Design not only in LVT flooring, but the flooring industry at large. Its trade show exhibits have been thoroughly influenced by biophilia at Neocon, Greenbuild, GlobalShop and HD Expo, and will be evident in the space at Neocon 2018.

Visit Aspectaflooring.com for more information.

 

Posted on

National Floorcovering Alliance: Opportunities lie in diversification beyond flooring

April 30/May 7, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 23

By Steven Feldman

Cancun, Mexico—As the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) embarked on its spring meeting here last month, Dave Snedeker, president of the group and division merchandise manager, Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM), set forth one mission: get a feel from each member as to how the NFA board can add value to the membership. At the end of the day, the answer was, in a word, diversification.

As successful as NFA members may be—after all, they comprise some of the biggest and best independent flooring retailers in the country—many have not ventured beyond their core business into products like window treatments, countertops and cabinets. “Some members are looking at [diversification],” Snedeker said. “Some are just starting in it. Some aren’t doing it at all. So we’re just trying to make the connections easier so they can decide if that’s the route they want to take.”

NFA will facilitate this by bringing these types of companies to their meetings and opening up the communication lines. “I can’t think of a better way given the format of our meetings than to bring in somebody like a countertop, cabinet or window coverings supplier,” said Deb DeGraaf, co-owner, DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich. “We’re amongst a group of people we trust and value their input.”

DeGraaf sells window treatments and countertops. “We’ve grown our window treatment business quite a bit, but I would like to do more with it.”

Macco’s Floor Covering Center in Green Bay, Wis., sells neither cabinets, countertops nor window treatments, so there is plenty of opportunity to grow in these non-flooring categories. “There are a lot of sand boxes we’re not playing in right now that we need to explore,” said Jim Walters, president.

Likewise, diversification into non-flooring products is uncharted waters for Flooring 101 in Ventura County, Calif. “Like many in the group, we’re definitely looking at those avenues where we don’t participate now,” said Ian Newton, president. “The beauty of the group is sharing ideas. There are a lot of people out there making those first mistakes along the road that we can learn from. They can tell us what worked, what didn’t work and how to get there. It’s really an educational process for us all. With more hard surfaces being sold, we’re getting less frequency of that return customer. So we have to diversify the products we offer.”

Ambassador Floor Co. in St. Louis is another NFA member that currently sells only flooring. “In the past we’ve done other things; the recession knocked some of them down,” said Kelly Taylor, president. “But it’s time to take another look at it. As you talk to the rest of the group, I was surprised at the success some are having with window treatments.”

Nebraska Furniture Mart is, of course, involved in all categories as the retailer sells everything from furnishings to electronics. “We’re just on the cutting edge of the cabinet business, but we’ve done countertops for several years now,” Snedeker explained. “It’s a very big category for us.”

Paint is one relatively new category that might be of interest to NFA members. “We’ve talked about paint in the past,” Snedeker noted. “We have one member who’s very good at it. That’s the winning part of this group; if somebody is already doing it and doing it well, you can visit his store and see whether or not you can do it.”

Metroflor joins vendor ranks

With the demise of companies like Beaulieu and Royalty, the meeting marked the debut of Metroflor as a core vendor. “Metroflor does a decent business with a lot of our members,” Snedeker said. “They have a pretty solid line. They do good business in multifamily, and that’s where a lot of the business is going right now.”

Metroflor also has the ability to service everyone in the group. “That’s one thing we have to look at; people have to be able to cross the border into Canada and also be able to service the [entire] U.S. market,” Snedeker explained.

Metroflor had previously been a specialty vendor for a number of years, exhibiting at the afternoon showcase on Surfaces eve. “It’s almost like a vetting process,” DeGraaf said. “How did they perform and rate as a specialty vendor? If many of us believe a company is disorganized, they are not going to move up to the next level.”

Speaking of the Specialty Vendor Showcase, Cali Bamboo and Xintory were two companies that scored well with members. Cali Bamboo manufactures green building materials made primarily of bamboo and offered something unique to the group. Company president Doug Jackson has a good relationship with the group from his Tuftex days, Newton said.

Xintory is billed as the flooring industry’s first online marketplace to buy and sell drops, seconds and overstocked inventory. “I can see the concept being very valuable whether you want to get rid of something or find something,” DeGraaf said.

Installation issues

The one challenge NFA members continue to face is the same for all flooring retailers across the board: installation. The one variable is how NFA members attack the issue.

Nebraska Furniture Mart, for example, collaborated with the local community college for a training course. “We just graduated our first class; there were six who took the class and four of them are going to start with us,” Snedeker said. The class is taught by Nebraska Furniture Mart’s installation manager along with some installation experts employed by the retailer.

Flooring 101 is finding installation to be more of a challenge on the soft surface side, especially with the more intricate patterns. “We have a lot of good crews for hard surface,” Newton said. “You have to pay a lot more money. The challenge on the soft surface side is the jobs are smaller. You’re looking at 50-, 70-, 80-yard jobs now because carpet has gone to the bedrooms and the rest of the house is hard surface. A crew can’t make a living on 70 yards, so they end up doing two jobs in a day. The challenge now is servicing the customer between scheduling. So, we see a lot of challenges both on getting it installed correctly and making enough money for them.”

 

 

Posted on

Aspecta achieves JUST label for Chinese manufacturing facility

Norwalk, Conn.—The Elegant Home-Tech facility in Zhangjiagang, China, which manufactures Metroflor’s Aspecta commercial LVT product, has received a JUST label. To receive the label, the company had to provide numerous policies for public review and be rated on a wide range of metrics including safety, diversity, worker benefits and community engagement.

The JUST platform was created by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) as an innovative way for organizations to be transparent about their entire operations beyond product ingredients. Rather than a certification program, JUST is essentially a nutrition label for socially just and equitable organizations. The program requires reporting and documentation on a range of organization- and employee-related indicators, each requiring specific and measurable accountabilities recognized on a one-, two- or three-star level, which are published on the JUST label.

“The idea of pursuing a JUST label for a Chinese factory is courageous and profound,” said Rochelle Routman, Aspecta’s chief sustainability officer. “By accomplishing this, we have created a benchmark for our factory as well as the entire U.S. manufacturing sector sourcing from factories in Asia. The world is moving past the stigma of ‘Made in China’ because modern factories such as Elegant Home-Tech have made great strides in worker experience, quality control, and product and social transparency. It is Aspecta that is leading this movement to take transparency beyond U.S. borders.”

CEO of Elegant Home-Tech, Jin Song, fully supports the JUST effort and understands the need for transparency at the large flooring factory, which employs over 1,000 people. Additionally, Metroflor is fortunate to have Simon Xia, its general manager for China and liaison to Elegant Home-Tech, who assisted the team in overcoming the language barrier and setting the documentation process of existing policies in motion. Xia worked with Francis Janes, ILFI’s JUST manager, who walked him through the JUST parameters. This enabled Xia to evaluate and document transparency and social equity practices enabling the company to achieve the coveted label.

For more information, visit: justorganizations.com/just-profile/aspecta

Posted on

Resilient: Rigid core continues to set new standards

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

Even seasoned flooring executives are stunned at the growth of the rigid core subsegment that burst onto the scene less than two years ago and has morphed into a super cell of flooring.

Jimmy Tuley, vice president, residential resilient business, Mannington, just returned from Domotex Asia where he saw scores of new entries. “We saw combinations of wood on rigid core; some with mineral core to give it different properties... there is a lot of innovation happening. The pace of change right now is just amazing, unbelievable really.”

Jeff Francis, resilient category manager, Shaw Industries, and a 14-year industry veteran, added, “The rate of change in resilient rigid core is so significant it is challenging just to stay ahead of the pace. Based on the velocity of growth, I don’t see it receding at all.”

Francis said he sees rigid core continuing to take market share from soft surface as well as hard surface—laminate, wood and even glue-down LVT. “We see growth accelerating, and in the next 12-24 months, even as fast as the innovation is coming, we see more of it.”

David Sheehan, senior vice president, product management, Mohawk resilient, said he has been “astounded” by the growth of rigid vinyl. “It is definitely a product that has become the darling of the industry. Just as LVT in general was the go-to product for RSAs and dealers, rigid has become that go-to product.”

Rigid core, or SPC (solid polymer core), is made of a composite core construction, a step up from solid LVT, with a higher filler content and higher density without any foaming agent creating air bubbles in the core. The result is a thinner, harder and stiffer plank. Rigid core products are primarily suitable where higher indentation resistance is required and extensive exposure to sunlight/heat can occur.

This broad definition does not stop flooring companies from putting their own marketing spin on their iterations.

Following is a look at some of the newest offerings in rigid core flooring.


Armstrong
Rigid Core Vantage from Armstrong Flooring includes such features as registered embossing in elongated 9 x 60 and 7 x 60 planks and accentuated painted bevels. The line comes with a commercial-specified 20-mil wear layer and urethane coating, and is noted for its dent resistance thanks to a solid polymer core. Vantage is supported by a premium natural cork underlayment for reduced sound transmission. Armstrong said installing Rigid Core Vantage has been made easier with a new drop-lock system. It has been tested for use in fully enclosed three-season rooms where the expected post-installation temperature range falls between 32°F and 100°F. Rigid Core Vantage will be available to retailers in June.

CFL/FirmFit
FirmFit XXL boasts long and wide planks featuring synchronized embossed-in-register technology. “FirmFit was one of the first to launch long and wide rigid core planks that feature an extremely realistic embossed and register synchronized texture in a large way,” said Thomas Baert, CFL president. “The rigid core category is moving forward extremely fast and improving style and designs, which is bringing the category closer to real wood looks and textures. FirmFit XXL is the next step.”

FirmFit XXL, which will be in stores early summer, is backed by warranties on performance on massive installation surfaces without use of transition moldings. It is dent resistant and sun proof.

Congoleum
Triversa’s triple-layer construction delivers exceptional durability with a 20-mil wear layer, stability through a waterproof rigid core and versatility with cork backing for sound mitigation. A SmartLock clic system allows for easy floating installations. Triversa ID offers extensive design options, including mixed-width woods, longer planks, enhanced edge treatments and tile visuals.

Dixie Group
Dixie is one of the newest entrants into the rigid core space but is determined to make a lasting impression, according to Dan Phelan, vice president of marketing and hard surfaces. For 2018, the Dixie Home and Masland brands are coming out with 16 new offerings, all Stainmaster PetProtect with action traction. “We are filling in some gaps in colorations,” Phelan said. “We have fashion-forward colors in gray and taupe, and we are now adding heavier distressed looks.” New size options in Dixie Home (7 x 60) and Masland (5 x 60) are in addition to a 9 x 60 offered by both. Masland’s Big Sky line offers a 28-mil wear layer.

What’s different here is the company’s path to market is through limited retail distribution. As Phelan explained, “Do you want to enter the market for the sake of entering, or do you want to enter with something special? Stainmaster adds to our position in the marketplace. It’s working for us, and our limited distribution model is very powerful. We’re off to a really good start.”

EarthWerks
Noble Classic Plus SPC from EarthWerks boasts an array of high-dimension oak patterns with EIR. The assortment comes in 8 x 48 planks as well as a 9.5 x 60 tile for an even more dramatic appearance—each with cushion backing.

For customers looking for a glue-down application, these same designs and sizes are also available in a 3mm x 20 mil dry back version called Wood Classic II.

Inhaus
Sono is Inhaus’ latest innovation in waterproof dimensionally stable flooring. The German-made product comes with proprietary technology and features high-definition digital printing. The printing process enables vastly improved color variations and a 5% plank repeat, the company said, resulting in a uniquely appealing installation. The core is highly resistant to heat and cold, is waterproof and has an angle fold locking system for ease of installation. The patented ceramic composite core is free of PVCs, formaldehyde and all other additives.

IVC
Urbane, which will be launched in the second quarter through distribution, will be part of IVC’s rebranded Waterproof Solutions display, which replaces Moduleo. Sheehan explained the company is trying to communicate the inherent waterproof nature of the offerings with the three-product display that also includes Horizon and Embellish. Described as a classic flexible offering, Horizon is a 20 mil, 4.5mm construction available in click and glue down. The trade up is Embellish, a flexible LVT that Sheehan called a very significant offering. “We’re not labeling the products, we’re creating a good/better/best trade-up story,” he said.

Urbane is a rigid offering that IVC expects will drive a lot of traffic and enthusiasm. Glass is used to make the product more dimensionally stable. All three products are suitable for three-season rooms capable of handling extreme temperatures.

Mannington
Tuley said he sees the WPC and SPC segments “splitting” as new technologies emerge to create separation. AduraMax Prime is an SPC targeted at the builder/multifamily segment. AduraMax Apex offers a long and wide plank and is embossed with a painted bevel. Mannington also plans to launch Adura Rigid, an SPC with pad attached. “For the most part, these products are variations or improvements on LVT to solve very particular problems,” Tuley said.

Marquis
Marquis’ newest rigid core product offering, Geneva, provides a print with great color movement and depth. Featuring multi-width look patterns representing a new urban twist to a rustic look, Geneva comes in a 7 x 48 board with a 4mm SPC core and 20 mil ceramic bead wear layer finished with a 1.5mm closed-cell IXPE attached cushion.

Metroflor
Engage Inception, Metroflor’s new SPC product, expands the company’s portfolio of LVT flooring solutions that address all relevant categories—glue down and a variety of floating platforms such as Grip-Strip (Konecto), Solid Vinyl Clic (Engage), WPC (Engage Genesis) and now SPC (Engage Inception).

The new Engage Inception line is intended to serve as an entry-level, SPC product suitable for multifamily, residential and commercial environments dependent on the wear layer chosen. It is stiffer and denser than WPC, offering favorable dimensional stability characteristics, thereby enabling greater resistance to temperature changes and indentations. Beyond improved dent resistance, the premium attached high-density polyethylene foam underlayment provides sound absorption, reduces transmitted sound and foot fatigue and helps to conceal subfloor imperfections.

Mohawk
2018 promises to be a big year for Mohawk in the area of rigid core. Starting with SolidTech, its flagship line with less than one full year in the market, Mohawk is readying a slew of new rigid offerings from its U.S. production facility that will be a fully integrated rigid core plant. “Customers are getting in line for this,” Sheehan said. “Mohawk has invested a huge amount of capital toward this category. We feel we have the right products and are positioned well in each of our channels.”

Due out soon is True Design, a collection of neat visuals with features such as EIR, painted bevels and longer planks. Within the collection, Blended Tones boasts a 22-mil wear layer with a painted bevel. “The reason we do embossed in register is not to prove to the market that we can do it, but to make the product look real,” Sheehan explained. “We feel we have done that with the True Design collection.”

Both the second and third quarters will be active for Mohawk as it aggressively expands its rigid portfolio. As Sheehan explained, “If rigid is the fastest growing segment, the only way to keep pace and grow your market share is to aggressively invest in your category. We are going to aggressively expand our offering and grab market share with the right product along with the right visuals and price points.”

Karndean
Korlok Select, the company’s rigid core line, took two years to develop but was worth the wait, according to Emil Mellow, director of public relations. “Everything we put in there is top end.”

Korlok’s rigid core line comes fully equipped with K-Core technology, a pre-attached acoustic underlayment, K-Guard+ surface protection, HoldFast 5G locking mechanism and warranty. Its 9 x 56 plank matches that of other suppliers. “We found that anything longer than that logistically doesn’t work for a couple of reasons,” Mellow stated. “The box size becomes too heavy and unwieldy to handle, the retail shelf bins are not big enough to accommodate the planks, and the installation becomes very difficult. You need two people and that defeats the whole purpose of easy assembly.”

While most companies, including Karndean, attach numerous bells and whistles to their rigid core products, occasionally they dial back the features to hit a desired price point. That was the case with the Reserve line, which comes out in May. It launches with a stacker option or waterfall display for dealers.

Novalis
Its newest rigid core product, Serenbe, is part of the NovaFloor line with high density core (HDC) technology. It has 24 styles in planks and tiles—including a new 12 x 36 tile. Serenbe also features Novalis’ newest advancement in protection, patent-pending NovaShield.

NovaFloor HDC is an extruded solid vinyl that provides all the popular attributes of rigid core: waterproof, dent resistance and ease of installation over common subfloor imperfections. “We equipped it with an attached foam underlayment as a sound barrier and added comfort underfoot,” said Steve Erlich, vice president of sales and marketing. “So, if you’re a dealer, you will want this product line on your retail floor. It’s the whole package.”

Phenix
Bold Statement from Phenix is a Stainmaster PetProtect SPC in seven colors, five planks and two tile options. Velocity is a 9 x 60 SPC rigid core that combines Corex technology with an EVA foam backing to eliminate additional underlayment. “Both products have some unique features and benefits,” said Chris Johnson, senior vice president of sales. “Our Bold Statement is [among] the only PetProtect SPCs on the market. It also has the Stainmaster PetProtect finish, so it provides superior scratch resistance and pet action traction.”

Velocity is a 22-mil product that is extra wide and long but is also available in a 12 x 24 tile. “We have worked hard to develop a rich and diverse color palette for both products, so just about any home can find something within Velocity that fits their space,” Johnson said.

Quick-Step
EnduraTek and EnduraTek Ultra, the company’s newest rigid core offerings, will be sold through distribution. These unique tile visuals are constructed of an internally routed grout line that renders the product incredibly real, according to the company. “It gives the visual appearance of a 12 x 24, when in fact it is a 12 x 48 plank.” EnduraTek Ultra is slated for the second quarter. “We have rigid flowing everywhere,” Sheehan said.

Raskin
Raskin Industries is promoting its eight-layer rigid construction in which each layer is engineered to provide more stability. “It’s the best of both worlds—waterproof rigid with no air or foam, and no adhesives since we fuse the layers as we use heat and pressure,” said Michael Raskin, president. “It’s critical to have multiple layers.”

A new product, Solid Gencore, is made from Raskin’s proprietary acrylic composite structure used as its core layer to provide maximum stability and impact resistance. “Acrylx has no foam or air, making it denser than a WPC-type multilayer product. We use advanced technology-grade resins that are used specifically to provide stability against heat and cold temperatures.”

New to the market is Acrylx Select, available in five colors. The line is meant to be price competitive with the added benefits of soundproof backing and anti-mildew. It is 100% waterproof as well. Lumination Velocity, another new offering, will have 10 colors in a 4mm with a 1mm Gcore backing. This collection will include registered embossing and will be showcased in a new display with large boards. The line consists of stone, multi-plank looks and 60-inch planks. “It’s hard to differentiate, so it’s important to sell the latest and best technology that will stand up to the hype,” Raskin said. “We feel our product construction and ability to design the colors and styles that sell will offer customers the right products.”

Shaw
Shaw Industries is another major mill that has invested heavily in the rigid core business primarily with Floorte.

Floorte Pro, a new tile rigid core product, launched with 20 SKUs. The waterproof, click product features a lacquer bevel. “There is a trend toward smaller grout lines, which we can do with this product,” Francis said. “The response has been great. This opens it up to mud rooms and bathrooms.”

Overall, Floorte Pro offers a diverse portfolio of visuals ranging from hardwood to tile looks. Mineral Mix, for example, strikes a balance between contemporary concrete and linear metal looks for a chic aesthetic. Each tile has visual grout applied for a quick installation that does not require traditional grout. Blue Ridge Pine is a rich heart pine visual that captures the contrast, character and uniqueness found in natural hardwood.

Tarkett
Tarkett’s new ProGen collection is the next generation of rigid core luxury vinyl flooring that provides superior impact and indentation resistance. The product also demonstrates superior durability over traditional WPC, according to the company.

ProGen’s unique compact core design makes installation easy by providing the flexibility to adjust to tight spaces, while maintaining enough rigidity to allow for installation over imperfect subfloors. This new collection has a 20-mil, commercial-grade wear layer and enhanced polyurethane layer that allow ProGen to resist scratches and the rigors of modern life. In addition, its high-density foam backing reduces unwanted noise.

USFloors
Piet Dossche, founder and CEO, said there were 65 Chinese manufacturers exhibiting rigid core products at Domotex Hannover in January, a testament to the incredible momentum of the subcategory. “This is not a fad, this is just the beginning,” he said at a recent symposium. “Composite waterproof flooring will be the high double-digit growth engine in hard surfaces for the next five years.”

To that end, USFloors is striving to keep its market-share-leading position among suppliers. The company launched COREtec Pro Plus in Q4 2017 and COREtec Pro Plus Enhanced in January. Both are of SPC construction. USFloors will introduce COREtec Stone in the summer with upwards of 40 SKUs. “Attention to detail and design is what makes Pro Plus and Pro Plus Enhanced stand out from the crowd,” said Jamann Stepp, director of marketing and product management. COREtec Pro collections include a double extrusion process with a 1mm cork attached pad. Pro Plus Enhanced also incorporates a four-sided enhanced beveled edge for added realism. As for the forthcoming COREtec Stone, attention to detail will again be key. “The decors, including the tech and spec data that is employed in the Pro Plus collections, along with a proprietary protective coating to prevent scratching and abrasion, will set COREtec Stone apart from the rest,” Stepp said. “We see COREtec Stone as tile reinvented.”

Wellmade
Wellmade continues to expand its Nouveax en vogue HDPC vinyl plank collection. The rigid core features Wellmade’s co-extrusion technology and includes standard and wide/long plank options. Wear layers are available in 8-, 12-, and 20-mil options. Wellmade has added new design options for 2018, including character-driven muted gray and brown tones with enhanced texturing on the hardwood side, and contemporary travertine looks in stone. “Dealers have pleased with our competitive pricing, ease of installation and superior overall performance,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing.