Posted on

MP Global: 20 years old and still innovating

February 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Number 18

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 3.48.37 PMDuring its first year of operation in 1997, MP Global—then known as Midwest Padding—employed 10 people. Today, the company has grown to about 145 employees and runs three shifts, 24 hours, seven days a week.

While MP Global had its start in carpet and futon padding, the company is most known for its wide range of underlayments. Interestingly, it used the same patented technology it developed 20 years ago to create the innovative range of floor covering padding products it offers today.

With the U.S. laminate industry boom, MP Global’s QuietWalk carpet padding evolved to become its primary underlayment brand. “I clearly remember the very first truckload of QuietWalk underlayment rolling away from our loading dock on its way to a well-known laminate flooring manufacturer,” said Jack Boesch, director of marketing, MP Global, recalling the beginning of the company’s shift into underlayments. “I remember the excitement and suggested popping open a bottle of champagne to celebrate such a large sale of our new product. Little did we know at the time QuietWalk would soon become our core product with multiple trucks of it shipping daily.”

QuietWalk contains 94% recycled materials comprising fibers that are too short to go back into textile operations. Noting QuietWalk’s success, MP Global has evolved its product to solve different installation issues. “We’ve taken QuietWalk innovation and improved it, specifically for over concrete where large amounts of vapor emissions may exist,” said Deanna Summers, marketing specialist. “This new underlayment called VentiLayer uses the same recycled fibers in our patented manufacturing process, but we’ve added a plastic mesh beneath it to elevate it off the ground and encourage airflow.”

This elevation, according to the company, creates venting to eliminate water vapor or hydrostatic pools of moisture under the underlayment. The new product will meet NALFA standards and provides sound absorption and moisture protection.

MP Global keeps its pulse on the market to stay in lock-step with industry-wide trends and developments. To that end, the company is working on a brand new, pressure-sensitive product called Sound Buffer Self-Adhere which aims to provide faster installation solutions for LVT products.

“[Sound Buffer Self-Adhere] is a 100% virgin latex material so it’s very dense, very supportive to luxury vinyl in particular,” Summers said. “We’re developing a niche-type product that goes one step further. For example, a large mall-type store wants to replace flooring but doesn’t want to sacrifice business hours for flooring installation hours. Using Sound Buffer Self-Adhere speeds up the installation time by skipping out on the glue drying process. It is a direct install product. The pressure sensitive adhesive already on the product allows the flooring to be stuck directly onto the underlayment.”

Rebranding initiative

PrintMP Global has rebranded itself as a “One Source” for retailers and consumers as a means to match its innovative products for all types of flooring. “We want [our customers] to think of us as the underlayment source,” Summers explained. “When a distributor or retailer thinks of underlayments, we want him to think MP Global. Many think of us as a fiber manufacturer and QuietWalk, but we have evolved into other products as well. We can source all underlayments, not just fiber. We are more of a solutions provider, really.”

As the industry expanded to offer innovative floor covering materials such as LVT and WPC, MP Global has likewise evolved to broaden its solutions of underlayment products to address these new flooring materials. “Having a reliable partner like us can offer peace of mind and also be more cost effective,” Summers explained. “We can consolidate trucks to fit a program of needs, which saves money—everyone wins.”

To complement its innovative products and rebranding, MP Global also plans to launch a new website at the end of the first quarter.

 

Posted on

Underlayment: Latest products fill category-specific needs

December 5/12, 2016; Volume 31, Number 13         

By Jana Pollock

 

When it comes to underlayments, what’s underneath really does count. There are seemingly countless underlayment options—each with their own features and benefits—so it’s important to know the specifications and attributes of each product prior to the installation.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-10-29-50-amIn virtually all cases, the type of underlayment selected is contingent upon the specific type(s) of flooring that will be utilized in a given space. For example, with tile, underlayment that provides support is preferred. Underlayments for these products must not only be strong enough that the tile and grout won’t crack over time, but also flexible enough to absorb movement and expansion and contraction from changing temperatures. Installers suggest cement board underlayment or uncoupling membrane underlayments for these scenarios.

The requirements are much different for other hard surface products such as laminates, which are typically installed via the floating method. Experts say laminate floors require underlayment products that provide stability and protection from moisture, as well as sound abatement. These options may range from foam products to cork or polypropylene. For hardwood floors, installers say, it’s wise to pick an underlayment made from felt, cork or rubber. Rubber or foam underlayments also work well for carpet in some cases.

The challenge for most manufacturers of cushioning and underlayment is to keep pace with new product development from the flooring suppliers. At Carpenter, for example, the emphasis is on introducing new products that provide more comfort underfoot.

“Unfortunately, carpet has dropped considerably in terms of market share over the last five years as millennials are coming in,” said Rob Heuay, senior vice resident. “But we have kept up by improving the feel of the carpet.”

Carpenter also focuses on developing underlayment products that can withstand a host of issues, namely pet accidents. “Many people have pets, so stains and cleanability of carpet is important,” Heuay said. “So the innovations have been in treatments of the cushion to reduce wear and to eliminate odors from accidents.”

One such innovation is Carpenter’s Serenity carpet cushion, which features Everfresh probiotic technology. According to Heuay, the 100% organic probiotic technology reduces odor naturally, continuously and safely. How it works: When pet accidents occur the urine is transformed into water and CO2 which evaporates, leaving no smell left behind and no lingering bacteria. “The floor covering industry recognizes the importance of living in a clean home without the worry of germs that pose potential harm to homeowners,” he said. “Serenity with Everfresh probiotic technology does just that.”

Keeping in lockstep
Experts agree that today’s underlayment products are geared more toward the bevy of new products being developed. “In years past, one pad was recommended for all available flooring installation types,” said Jeffrey Castor, national sales manager, Diversified Industries. “With the introduction of products such as LVT, that has since changed. Based on the characteristics of LVT/LVP, anything thicker than approximately 1mm has been subject to failure over time.”

Diversified Industries is working to stay ahead of the game. “In 2016 we’ve already introduced five new underlayment SKUs and anticipate the addition of at least 10 more by years end,” Castor stated. “We anticipate the needs of the industry so we are not playing catch up.”

Other major suppliers attest to the rapid rate of new product development. Jack Boesch, president of MP Global Products, has also seen an increase in the popularity of LVT. This, he notes, has resulted in multiple requests for underlayment products that complement the installation. “As far as we know there are no requirements for underlayments in this category, but there’s always a need to deaden sound between floors in multi-family housing such as condominiums and apartment buildings,” he explained.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-10-29-56-amAnother factor in the choice of underlayment is the environment/region in which the flooring material will be used. Take ceramic tile and radiant heating flooring systems, for example. “These systems have been around for years; however, up until this past year there has never been uncoupling membranes that serve a dual purpose,” said Julia Vozza, marketing manager at Loxcreen Flooring Group, maker of the Prova Flex Heat+ system. “Now you can have heated tile floors while also avoiding tile cracking, which can extend the life span of a tile for years to come. The uncoupling membranes for use with in-floor radiant heating systems allow heating cables to be embedded or inserted into channels while the membrane can also serve its purpose of strengthening the overall tile installation.”

In most cases, the type of underlayment product selected will be dictated by the type of flooring material specified or installed. As Wil Younger, marketing manager for Regupol, explained: “From carpet to LVT, from engineered hardwood to ceramic tiles, floor coverings have different hardnesses and thus different acoustical performance. Typically, the harder the floor covering the louder is the noise in the room itself and the lower the damping and sound isolation to neighboring rooms on the same floor level, the level below or above. As a result, floor coverings require different underlayments in order to achieve the desired acoustical performance and comply with building codes.”

Some of the latest underlayment products have a dual purpose. Schönox DSP, for example, is a self-leveling compound that can also be used as an overlayment. This applies to applications where customers require a durable coating for concrete that can be polished.

“The flexibility and product attributes of of Schönox DSP are finding wide appeal in new construction, remodel and renovation projects where leveling as well as a top surface can be accomplished in one process,” said Doug Young, executive vice president.

Many underlayment manufacturers seek to leverage insight gained from consumer testing when developing products that offer desired performance features and benefits. “Our product development team then uses these insights, developing innovative solutions for this category that maximize the comfort and performance of our underlayment,” said Jeff Briney, vice president of sales, Innocor Foam Technologies, maker of the CUSHIONcor memory foam carpet cushion product. “It’s made with gel memory foam that provides the comfort and support consumers crave underfoot.”

 

Posted on

MP Global introduces Sound Buffer

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 4.33.53 PMNorfolk, Neb.—MP Global Products has introduced Sound Buffer, a high-performing universal acoustic underlayment that offers full subfloor coverage while soothing impact sound and floor-to-ceiling noise. Its carefully engineered properties enable installers to use one SKU for many types of hard surface floors in residential and commercial projects.

Made from 100% virgin latex rubber, Sound Buffer is approved for use under luxury vinyl tiles and planks, laminate, engineered wood and hardwood flooring, and can be floated, nailed, stapled or single- or double-glued.

Posted on

MP Global repurposes plastic bottles in LuxWalk

image004Norfolk, Neb.—MP Global Products has expanded the scope of recycled resources used in its manufacturing processes to include fibers from discarded plastic beverage bottles. The company recently introduced LuxWalk, a high performing acoustic and insulating underlayment engineered especially for use under new luxury vinyl flooring (LVF).

Containing 31% post-consumer materials, LuxWalk uses plastic fibers from discarded water bottles diverted from landfill, helping preserve the environment. The underlayment is LEED compliant and will contribute to MRc 4.1–4.2 credits.

Posted on

Perfectly Warm Radiant Heat Film offers multiple advantages

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 10.17.50 AMNorfolk, Neb.—MP Global Products’ Perfectly Warm Radiant Heat Film is a gentle electric radiant heat film designed specifically for use with floating engineered wood and laminate floors as well as some floating tile floors. It can be installed easily over a subfloor or acoustic underlayment and can provide supplemental heat to rooms at the end of heating zones.

The lightweight, roll-out line voltage system features gradual supplemental warmth from low wattage resistance heating, using just 12 watts per square foot. Unlike forced air systems, it does not blow around irritating allergens and no generated heat is lost in ducts.

Posted on

LuxWalk delivers impressive sound ratings

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 2.15.30 PMNorfolk, Neb.—LuxWalk, a new high-performing underlayment engineered specifically for floating or glue-down LVT that effectively soothes impact sound and floor to ceiling noise, has delivered impressive numbers in IIC and STC tests.

In a recent IIC test designed to measure the impact sound transmission performance of LuxWalk installed under 5mm floating LVT over 6-inch concrete with no ceiling, the assembly achieved an excellent sound rating of 52, appreciably higher than the rating of 50, which the International Building Code (IBC) suggests.

In addition, a recent STC test that evaluated the ability of LuxWalk installed under 5 mm floating LVT with no ceiling achieved the same outstanding rating of 52.

With thinner LVT, the numbers are even higher. In the IIC test, 4.2 mm luxury vinyl planks installed over LuxWalk and 6-inch concrete with a suspended ceiling achieved a noteworthy sound rating of 72. In the STC test, 4.2 mm luxury vinyl planks over LuxWalk and 6-inch concrete with a suspended ceiling achieved a noteworthy rating of 66.

Posted on

Insulayment: Perfect match for today’s hardwood options

image002Norfolk, Neb.—MP Global Products’ Insulayment is a high performing acoustic underlayment engineered specifically for installation under glue-down or nail-down hardwood and engineered wood floors. The roll-out fiber underlayment is designed to dampen impact noise and decrease airborne sounds from traveling to the room below.

Insulayment is a very appealing choice for installations where concern for the environment is a consideration. Insulayment keeps floors warm in the winter and cool in the summer, minimizing energy demands. In addition, the underlayment is Made in the USA, which eliminates overseas shipping costs and minimizes transportation costs, and made from 100% pre-consumer recycled textile content. It also helps to smooth out little subfloor imperfections.

Posted on

MP Global introduces Perfectly Warm Peel and Stick

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 1.38.37 PMNorfolk, Neb.—MP Global Products has introduced Perfectly Warm Peel and Stick Radiant Heat for Tile Floors, an in-floor electric radiant heating system for added comfort and coziness to rooms with traditional tile, stone or marble flooring.

Perfectly Warm for Tile Floors complements the recently launched and well-received Perfectly Warm Radiant Heat Film for Floating Floors. Both use a unique conductive ink technology embedded in a flexible thin film and generate gentle highly efficient supplemental heat from under the finished floor covering.

The clean, quiet, hypoallergenic and maintenance free lightweight system, sliver thin at just 0.05 inches, provides up to 85% heated surface coverage, without any hot or cold spots. Using only 12 watts per square foot, the system disperses gradual evenly consistent supplemental warmth from low wattage resistance heating of the radiant heat film.

Posted on

Underlayment: Suppliers strut their green stuff

May 26/June 2, 2014; Volume 27/Number 28

By Louis Iannaco

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 12.24.24 PMAs every area of the industry strives to become more environmentally friendly, products continue to become safer and more sustainable. When it comes to underlayment and carpet cushion, the same holds true. Whether it’s the ingredients in the offerings themselves or the way they are manufactured, cushion and underlayment companies are doing what they can to provide retailers and end users with the safest, most effective products.

Diversified Industries

“To our company, green is much more than a passing fad,” said Jeffrey Castor, vice president of sales. “Our team constantly tries to improve our efficiencies and lower our carbon footprint. Everyone is constantly forced to weigh their desire to take care of the environment versus the cost to do so. Our new product allows them to do both.”

That new product is EcoStep Ultimate, a grade fiber underlayment and moisture barrier featuring Diversified’s UltraSeal self-sealing lip and tape system. EcoStep is made from 98% recycled content, is 100% recyclable and is domestically manufactured.

“It has great compression characteristics, extremely high acoustic ratings and an unparalleled consistency with respect to thickness and density,” Castor said.

Fabricushion

According to Andrea Morris, vice president, sales/marketing, Fabricushion—producer of both carpet cushion and underlayment for hard surfaces—offers various green products, which either leverage recycled tire crumb or acoustical mineral sand. Both add to the properties of the products while furthering green mandates.

“Our products range from residential and commercial carpet cushion to LVT underlayment to other acoustical underlayment,” she said. “On top of achieving CRI approval, our products contain recycled content and are recyclable at the end of their life.”

Fabricushion’s top two lines—Cush-n-Tred and DB Cover—are both rubber-based. Cush-n-Tred features recycled tire crumb, a Textron backing and is available in carpet cushion and underlayment for hard surfaces, while DB Cover is a premium, high-density underlayment containing acoustical mineral sand. DB Cover Vinyl is a palletized product and offers stability, moisture protection and sound absorption for LVT planks or tiles.

Cush-n-Tred is an affordable green choice, Morris noted, and “with its densities and other attributes, the correct Cush-n-Tred cushion can handle a range of traffic levels and perform over radiant heated floors, above and below grade.”

MP Global Products

MP Global’s latest green product is LuxWalk, an underlayment engineered specifically for floating or glue down luxury vinyl flooring (LVF), made with 31% post-consumer recycled content. Providing full subfloor coverage and carrying impressive IIC and STC sound test ratings, LuxWalk effectively reduces impact sound and floor to ceiling noise, noted Kelly Kennedy, national sales manager.

In addition, LuxWalk is LEED compliant due to its construction with a polyethylene film that incorporates blended recycled polyester fiber (derived from soda bottles diverted from landfill) with hot-melt adhesive.

“Because denting is inherent in luxury vinyl, its underlayment has to be dense and firm enough to support the LVF and minimize any denting,” Kelly said

Vinyl Trends

For Vinyl Trends, maker of Eternity brand underlayment, sustainability is nothing new, noted president Rob Kuepfer. The company got its start by reclaiming and recycling plastic and rubber materials into new products. Over the years, the company has managed to keep millions of pounds of scrap material out of landfills across North America.

Most notable from the company’s portfolio is Zero VOC foam formulation, which is the first and only zero VOC underlayment, he noted. “Eternity does not off gas harmful chemicals, and it creates a barrier between the subfloor and the room, while many traditional subfloor materials contain numerous chemical compounds including formaldehyde, which often migrate into the living space.”

Also, Eternity is a natural microbe inhibitor, so Vinyl Trends does not need to add any antimicrobial chemicals.

Posted on

Made in the USA: Faster lead times, better control

Volume 27/Number 26; April 28/May 5, 2014

By Ken Ryan

One of the major storylines in 2013 and early 2014 was the decision by four major flooring companies to build LVT production facilities on U.S. soil. The benefits Mannington, IVC, Shaw and Mohawk expect to reap from this move include shorter lead times, better quality control, quicker turnaround for sample replenishment and back-order fulfillment.

It comes down to this, according to David Sheehan, vice president of commercial hard surfaces for Mannington: “Those who have the inventory that can serve the customers’ needs get the business. You control your own destiny by having manufacturing here.”

Flooring is not the only industry making this push. According to the Boston Consulting Group, more than half of U.S.-based manufacturing executives at companies with sales of more than $1 billion plan to re-shore production to the U.S. from China—or are actively considering it.

When considering the cost of transportation and logistics along with the quality of the workforce here (productivity improvements due to automation are trimming per-unit labor costs in the U.S.), it’s very easy to justify bringing that production back to the U.S.

Indeed, as the cost of freight coming into the U.S. remains high, the opportunity for domestic manufacturing will continue to be strong, experts say. Some flooring executives suggest this onshoring may be the beginning of a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. If true, that would represent a very positive sign for the economy (only 9% of U.S. jobs are manufacturing related, according to statistics), particularly the ability to grow and retain jobs here.

Speed to market

MP Global Products, a manufacturer of acoustic and insulating underlayments, is currently assessing commercial storage facilities in strategic locations around the U.S. with the intent to warehouse inventory regionally and add inventory capacity to more quickly fulfill customer orders.

“Certainly, to fulfill an order, delivering from a regional storage facility is a lot faster than waiting for product shipped across the high seas,” said Jack Boesch, director of marketing at MP Global Products. “Right now, we are looking at locations that are close to our largest customers.”

Manufacturing close to the customer enables companies to offer a wide array of available products without lengthy lead times required to ship items from other countries.

Speed to market is critical in today’s market. Having the ability to deliver in five to 10 days, as would be the case with many domestic plants—compared to, say, 15 weeks from a facility overseas—offers a major competitive advantage. A company with overseas operations can try and build up their inventory, but one missing SKU could cost a large-size order.

“Availability, quality control and quick supply are three key benefits to selling domestically manufactured tile to the domestic market,” said Lori Kirk-Rolley, vice president of brand marketing at Dal-Tile Corp.

Kirk-Rolley said the tile industry in particular is known for style and sophistication that was previously limited to European markets; however, with advancement of design and manufacturing technologies, companies like Dal-Tile are helping the domestic tile market make significant gains.

Green benefit

Products that are produced domestically also have a sustainable story to tell in terms of fewer transportation miles, less fuel costs and better monitoring of manufacturing efficiencies. That is the case with Dal-Tile, which recently completed

the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) development process for all products manufactured in its North American production facilities. “With third-party validation from PE International and certification by UL Environment, Dal-Tile is the first manufacturer in the ceramic category to voluntarily disclose cradle-to-grave impacts from all Daltile, American Olean, Marazzi USA and Ragno USA products with UL Environment certified EPDs,” Kirk-Rolley said.