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Karndean Designflooring launches Van Gogh rigid core format

Export, Penn.–Karndean Designflooring now offers best-selling designs from its Van Gogh range in a rigid core format, in addition to the existing glue down luxury vinyl format.

According to the company, Van Gogh glue down provides homeowners with peace of mind that planks will be permanently adhered to the subfloor and allows them to personalize their floor by choosing the direction and pattern in which planks are laid. This format also allows for the addition of “design strips” to create an inlay border or shiplap effect. Alternatively, Van Gogh rigid core is a floating floor that clicks and locks into place without the use of adhesive. This format is the company’s quietest to walk on, ideal for upstairs rooms in the home where consumers wish to minimize noise transfer to rooms below.

“By offering these 14 colors in both glue down and rigid core, consumers can first choose a color that matches their space and then select the format that better suits their needs. Homeowners may even choose to use both formats throughout the home by enjoying the designability of our glue down planks on the ground level and the acoustic properties of rigid core in upper levels,” Larry Browder, chief sales & marketing officer, said.

With its textured emboss and replication of natural woods, Van Gogh continues to be a go-to range within the LVT sector. Popular favorites now available in rigid core include Reclaimed Maple, Aged Redwood, Country Oak and Vintage Pine. Van Gogh planks are sized 48 X 7, feature a 20-mil wear layer suitable for commercial applications.

Like all Karndean rigid core products, Van Gogh rigid core planks feature the company’s proprietary, 100% waterproof K-Core technology for installation over most existing hard floors, without the worry of exposing subfloor imperfections. With this technology, install teams can turn jobs quickly without the use of adhesive. Van Gogh rigid core also features an acoustic foam backing that does not promote the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. Unlike cork backings, this layer will not flake apart on the job site. These planks are secured in place with a patented and proven click-locking mechanism.

Both formats are finished with K-Guard+ surface protection, which uses polyurethane technology to provide a hygienic and durable surface that, unlike aluminum oxide coatings, will not turn white if scratched or leave stress marks when handled. Both lines are backed by a 15-year commercial warranty and lifetime residential warranty.

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Resilient: Suppliers pull curtain back on their variations of WPC/rigid core

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

By Ken Ryan

There are many conflicting representations of what constitutes WPC (waterproof core, as we call it) and rigid core (solid polymer core) in this explosive resilient subcategory. The nascent Multilayer Flooring Association, which is tasked with setting the standard, recently met and agreed the multilayer flooring category is separated into two primary categories—WPC and SPC. But within those acronyms lie many variations, perhaps subtle differences in constructions or underlayment, and most certainly in marketing terminology.

Several manufacturers illustrated their latest WPC/SPC offerings with diagrams depicting how they are constructed.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.24.08 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.24.23 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.24.40 AM

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Marquis: The best is yet to come in hard surfaces

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.11.22 AMIt is not uncommon these days for a mid-sized carpet mill to get involved in hard surfaces and try to catch the wave that is the LVT/WPC/rigid core movement. What is uncommon is for that mill to have genuine success to the tune of double-digit growth year over year.

Marquis Industries made the leap into the luxury vinyl world nine years ago. Rather than dabbling in it, the company went full-court press, expanding its product portfolio every year as it continued to grow. In fact, 2016 was a record year for Marquis Industries in hard surface products, fueled by its LVT collections—LVP, WPC and SPC (rigid core products). This year, Marquis has introduced new constructions, specifications and visuals to position the company as a premier source of waterproof vinyl flooring in residential and commercial.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate and have had phenomenal growth over the past year and expect it to continue into 2018 and beyond,” said Kevin Howell, vice president, hard surface division. “Our intention is to win, to deliver unparalleled support to our partners in the industry and continue to develop and deliver products of value to our loyal customer base.”

Marquis is winning with products like Williamsburg, one of the hot new looks introduced at Surfaces 2017. This multi-width pattern WPC is designed with the latest in grays and tan/browns, and measures 7 x 48 with a 20 mil, ceramic bead finish and an IXPE attached cushion. Customers have been impressed with the company’s transformation from carpet mill to full-line hard surface source. One flooring dealer who had carried Marquis carpet but no hard surfaces bought a container.

Roy Rueb, general manager at Vrooman Carpet, a Golden Valley, Minn., wholesaler, said he has worked with Marquis for 25 years, primarily on the carpet side; he added hard surfaces roughly five years ago, starting with a Marquis luxury vinyl line called Country Home. “They’ve always been a stand-up company, always good to work with, so I had no concerns taking on their hard surface products. And when they did come to us it was obvious they had done their homework. They had gone to China and did their research, so I felt comfortable taking it on. In fact, we have actually done quite well with it, starting with Country Home; we now have four collections.”

Rueb said the company is doing quite well with Marquis WPC and will add rigid core when the product comes online soon. “We should have everything covered in that category by then. In hard surface, [Marquis] luxury vinyl hands-down has been phenomenal.”

Vrooman doubled its business with Marquis last year, mostly on the LVT side. “The carpet side stayed consistent but hard surface was significantly more. It is up again this year although not double, maybe 20% up. It’s been a good partnership.”

Likewise, Rob Quinn, owner of Quinn Distributors in Milwaukee, has been doing business with Marquis for 20-plus years, and until recently was a soft surface wholesaler only. “We both saw the writing on the wall that hard surface was coming. We got into it together.”

Although initially hesitant to go to market in hard surfaces with a carpet mill, Quinn said he was duly impressed with Marquis’ offerings, which he said are well engineered and thicker than most; the results bear that out. In 2017, Quinn estimates he will do between $1 million and $1.5 million in business with Marquis, and two-thirds of that will come in hard surface. Quinn represents three LVT suppliers; however, 80% of that business comes from Marquis. He particularly likes the visuals found in the Montana and Granite Falls SKUs. “Marquis does a fantastic job with styling, color and pricing; they have expertise in how to price things,” he said. “What I like is that they don’t have too many SKUs in any one category. We’re not the kind of distributor that’s going to stock 25 shades of green, so this works out well for us.”

According to Marquis’ Howell, the manufacturer will be introducing style and performance with the new designs in 2018 as the company expands the breadth of its product offerings.

 

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Novalis invests in the future of flexible, rigid core LVT

Novalis Plant ExpansionToronto, Canada—Novalis Innovative Flooring completed a landmark deal with Zhenjiang City to purchase a 35–acre tract directly across from its existing manufacturing facility. The company plans to erect a new state-of-the-art LVT plant—doubling the size of its current facility.

In addition to new LVT production lines, the new facility will house the company’s new headquarters and administrative offices, expanded R&D and Design facilities, and a new Customer Experience Center to share and educate the Novalis vision of sustainability. The design and construction of the new space will be LEED and WELL certified. Completion will occur in three phases over the next 36 months, with Phase One completed by Q1 of 2019. The total investment will be approximately $35 million.

“After looking at a variety of options and scenarios, we determined that building literally across the street from our existing plant made the best sense for servicing and supplying our customers, both in the U.S. and around the world,” said John Wu, president and CEO, Novalis. “Our combined operation and expanded corporate campus will afford us amazing design and production synergy that we just couldn’t duplicate anywhere else.”

Novalis will be putting its new and expanded facilities to good use, according to Wu. “We are currently working on the next generation of LVT in both flexible and rigid core, so the timing of this investment couldn’t be better for us. We are committed to remaining a global leader in LVT, therefore we have to continue to innovate with styling, construction and features.”

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Distributors give thumbs up to Raskin’s Acrylx

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4
By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.37.23 AMAs the WPC/rigid core subsegment of LVT continues to rise in popularity, flooring distributors are looking to get in on the action by partnering with suppliers who can deliver best-in-class looks.

Raskin Industries’ Acrylx, a solid surface waterproof floor, fits that bill, they say.

“We are amazed by the rapid industry shift to the rigid category and were lucky enough to partner with Raskin early on the Acrylx offering,” said Jodie Doyle, vice president of product management, Gilford-Johnson Flooring, a top 20 flooring wholesaler. “It’s one thing for customers to hear about rigid but never see the product. We hit the ground running with Acrylx, and our customers and sales reps are excited to be on the leading edge of a booming category. There are very few suppliers actively selling the product in the market with inventory in the barn, but we have it here in the states and the early returns have been tremendous.”

Acrylx is the first Raskin line for distributor Abraham Linc, which carries Premier Home, Premier XL and Premier G-Core XL. Abraham Linc, which services the Mid-Atlantic region, discussed carrying the lines with Raskin at Surfaces in January; it started shipping Acrylx in June.

AJ Warne, director of resilient sales for Abraham Linc, said the feedback has been great. “Premier Home is their entry level collection but features a high-end look, and it has a style and design that is superior to many products at similar price points, especially for that construction style.”

Gilford-Johnson’s Doyle noted that in a market with so many competing rigid core products, cutting-edge looks could be a key separator. “That’s one of the main reasons we have partnered with Michael Raskin and his team—because everyone knows that when Michael’s name is behind the product, you are going to get tremendous visuals and the fashion-forward looks that today’s consumer demands.”

Available in three collections—Premier Home, Premier XL and Premier G-Core XL—Acrylx’s high-density core is made of pure materials and minerals that are tightly bonded with polymers to create a solid core that is more impact resistant and denser than most other flooring.

Premier Home is available in eight oak and distressed wood grain designs and is available in 6 x 37 formats with a 12-mil wear layer. Premier XL is showcased in four wood grain traditional visuals in a 9 x 60 plank with a 20-mil wear layer. Premier G-Core XL collection features a G-Core sound barrier backing for added acoustical absorption; it is also available in a 9 x 60 plank and 20-mil wear layer. It comes in four handscraped wood grain designs.

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Resilient: State of the industry—LVT, WPC remain primary drivers of category growth

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4
By Lindsay Baillie

The resilient category continues to follow its blazing path from 2016 with aggressive growth just six months into 2017. Industry observers attribute this activity once again to the industry’s “darlings”—LVT, WPC and rigid core.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.14.42 AMBased on FCNews research, LVT and its subcategories accounted for 42.3% of residential volume and 67.6% of residential dollars in 2016. Observers expect numbers in 2017 to reflect similar—if not more—control of the category. In 2016 the resilient category as a whole saw a 19.7% increase ($3.499 billion) over 2015’s $2.924 billion. This percentage is almost four times the growth of the overall industry. In addition, resilient captured 16.5% of the total flooring industry in dollars—the highest among all hard surfaces. Industry experts predict resilient numbers for 2017 will continue to rise, especially as waterproof products capture consumer interest.

In fact, many of the fiscal trends seen in 2016 have continued into the first half of 2017. For example, most experts have noticed residential sheet is still relatively flat, and felt is continuing to lose market share to fiberglass. Meanwhile, LVT continues to gain market share at the expense of sheet and other flooring types such as laminate and hardwood. Furthermore, LVT and its subcategories continue to gain market share as more manufacturers ramp up U.S. production for faster lead times and greater product control. Lastly, with the soaring popularity of WPC-type floors, more companies are adding rigid core to their portfolios.

Overall, success in this category is often attributed to the various innovations in printing and design, allowing manufacturers to create visuals that are almost indistinguishable from the natural materials they mimic. In addition, these designs can be achieved at a fraction of the cost. “Style is the point of entry to any design decision, but then cost quickly becomes a factor,” said Gary Keeble, director of marketing, Metroflor. “The ease of installation, the durability of LVT and associated easy care and maintenance have all assembled in a bit of a perfect storm.”

Looking at the trends, it’s easy to see why the industry is bullish about the category’s growth in 2017. “As a luxury vinyl specialist, 2017 has fared very well for us, both in terms of our glue-down products and with the introduction of our rigid core product line,” said Larry Browder, CEO, Karndean Designflooring. “The tremendous growth LVT has experienced confirms what we’ve known all along: Luxury vinyl provides the beauty and realism of natural wood and stone in a more practical format.”

All types of manufacturers, even those that produce multiple types of flooring, have seen impressive increases so far. “Resilient continues to be a very strong category for Shaw and is showing no signs of slowing down in 2017 or the foreseeable future,” said Clark Hodgkins, resilient director.

Sheet, felt feel the squeeze
FCNews research shows residential sheet vinyl had a less-than-stellar year in 2016—coming up relatively flat with a 0.2% decrease compared to 2015. Most industry observers attribute this subpar performance to the rise in demand for LVT, WPC and rigid core products.

“Sheet vinyl has lost share to LVT for several reasons,” explained John Wu, CEO, Novalis Innovative Flooring. “More manufacturers are adding LVT to their product offerings, so LVT is promoted more than sheet vinyl. Secondly, handling and installation [of LVT] is easier, especially for DIY applications.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.15.10 AMEasier installation is one major factor sheet vinyl manufacturers need to consider when developing new products, according to executives such as Jeff Fenwick, president and COO, Tarkett North America. As it stands today, “[installing] sheet product requires a level of expertise that tile does not.”

Fenwick also believes improvements in design are needed to help capture the consumer’s eye and break the stereotype that sheet vinyl is “what’s laid down in grandma’s kitchen.”

While some experts see the slight decline of sheet continuing in 2017, many manufacturers believe the category is still viable.

“There’s some softness on the sheet vinyl side but we firmly believe in the category,” said David Sheehan, senior vice president of product management, IVC—a division of Mohawk Industries. “Sheet in general is going to have to innovate. As manufacturers of sheet we need to do a better job of stepping up by innovating not only from a product standpoint but also in terms of how we talk about these products.”

For some manufacturers sheet still holds a certain value proposition. “Sheet is still the best value per square foot in flooring,” said Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of sales, Congoleum. “This is the original waterproof flooring and it delivers an exceptional value.”

Instead of simply dismissing the segment most sheet vinyl manufacturers are working on ways to innovate their product offerings to compete with LVT, WPC and rigid core. Investments in manufacturing, processes and technology are ways suppliers are seeking to re-invigorate the segment.

“Regardless of what the market is doing, we’re focused on growing our business by bringing innovative products to market,” said Matthew Savarino, senior product manager, resilient sheet, Armstrong Flooring. “We have already introduced new innovations in 2017, specifically Diamond 10 technology across select residential and commercial sheet.”

Sheet innovation at Mannington Mills involves finding answers to the question: How can the company push style and design? “You can make really innovative looks with sheet vinyl,” said Jimmy Tuley, vice president of residential resilient. “I know that has not been the popular perception in the past, but if you look at a couple of our new collections they really do a fantastic job of mimicking incredibly high-end looks with embossed in register, very realistic visuals at a very reasonable price point.”

Despite the overall segment’s slight decline, some manufacturers reported seeing an uptick among their sheet offerings. “We continue to see good strong performance and actually growth out of our sheet category,” Denman noted. “We’ve spent a fair amount of time really targeting the builder/multi-family market. A couple of years ago we introduced the ArmorCore line, which was designed specifically for them. We’ve invested [heavily in] the category and we continue to see growth.”

Just as sheet continues to fight against LVT and its subcategories for market share, felt continues to battle fiberglass. In 2016 fiberglass saw a 4.8% increase in dollars while felt was down 6%, according to FCNews research. Most manufacturers see this flip from felt to fiberglass continuing through 2017, but do not see felt completely disappearing.

“Growth in felt market share is going to come from specific market segments,” Armstrong’s Savarino explained. “Felt-based products still provide, generally speaking, greater durability over fiberglass-based vinyl sheet. The comfort tradeoff has won out with homeowners—which is why we have seen such a large shift in the market [to fiberglass], but segments such as property management and builders still put a high value on rip, tear and gouge performance. The installation benefits of fiberglass over felt have also been swaying some buyers in that segment, but picking between durability and ease of install is still a tough decision for many customers.”

LVT output rises
LVT is still singing 2016’s hit song as it continues to drive category growth and take market share from other categories. Based on FCNews data, LVT had a strong year in 2016, capturing 48.1% of residential market share in dollars. With only six months left of 2017 most manufacturers are reporting strong growth in LVT. This is most commonly attributed to the aggressive nature of it subcategories—WPC and rigid core.

As LVT remains a category favorite more manufacturers are expanding into domestic production. Experts have taken notice of the increase; however, most do not expect import production to disappear.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.14.53 AM“With the significant growth in the category, both domestic and import production will continue to expand,” said Lindsey Nisbet, head of product marketing and development, EarthWerks. “With the increased demand on the market today, many are finding it possible to produce in the United States. However, the technology for this category continues to be derived from Asia, as well as many of the components that make up the products. I foresee a nice balance of the category across the globe.”

Mannington is a company dedicated to U.S. production and has seen success from its acquisition of Amtico. “It’s important for several key suppliers to be able to produce here in the U.S.” Tuley explained. However, he also sees a need in the industry for balance between domestic and import production, specifically in regards to keeping up with consumer demands. Tuley cited the rapid expansion of the market and the need for technical innovations as some of the reasons for a balance strategy.

Manufacturers invested in domestic production see a number of benefits that are not always available when importing. A few examples include greater product control, faster lead time and a Made-in-the-USA story.

“In today’s market end users and consumers want product faster,” said Michael Raskin, president and CEO of Raskin Industries. “Domestic production provides shorter lead times. Another point to consider is younger consumers with children are asking where the product is made and the perception is ‘made in the USA’ is better quality and safer. It’s also very hard to guess right with inventory management since we are in a fashion business and as trends develop, distributors and retailers can react much faster with supply/demand when product is made in the U.S.”

For some, the issue is not so cut and dry. For instance, Jamann Stepp, director of marketing and product management for USFloors, there are both positives and negatives to domestic and import production. In addition to the benefits listed previously, Stepp cited greater quality control with domestic production. When importing, he explained, a manufacturer is able to eliminate the capital required to set up, run and maintain a manufacturing operation.

Others see more benefits in importing products. “Importation can actually be more flexible and responsive to the needs and trends in the marketplace,” Novalis’ Wu explained.

Even though importing products may result in longer lead times and less control over manufacturing, the vast majority of LVT products are still coming from overseas, observers say. “If you’re importing it allows for quicker response for changes in construction processing,” Congoleum’s Denman said. “There’s no capital expense investment. You can also get fairly competitive bidding between [businesses]. The number that exists allows a brand to have a lot of choices and opportunities to building the product that it wants.”

In addition to the increase of LVT domestic production, some manufacturers are also bringing rigid construction to the U.S. One in particular is IVC, which announced last year that it is building a rigid plant in Dalton.

“We expect to be up and running the first part of 2018 and getting product out through the latter part of 2018,” IVC’s Sheehan reports. “We’re going to be at the lead of that movement which makes sense from a lead-time standpoint and not having to tie up a lot of inventory, work, capital and being able to serve the needs of our customers in a better fashion.”

Even though a growing number of manufacturers are investing in U.S. production, some say the effects of their shift away from importing has yet to be felt. “Most of these factories are still coming on line,” Metroflor’s Keeble said. “With that said, the overwhelming majority of LVT sold in the USA remains imported, and with the category growing as it has, imports will likely remain a very large part of the overall market.”

WPC’s performance edge
Experts predict the aggressive growth of WPC and rigid core products will continue as long as waterproof products continue to capture the hearts and eyes of consumers. As these subcategories achieve meteoric growth other flooring categories will continue to lose overall market share.

“The growth in LVT has come at the expense of many categories including sheet vinyl, hardwood and especially laminate,” Karndean’s Browder said. “With the advent of WPC/rigid core, laminate is taking an even bigger hit. The fall of laminate flooring due to water and noise issues created a market for WPC and rigid core products.”

The success of WPC and rigid core can be attributed to multiple factors including the categories’ abilities to solve certain performance problems. “Rigid core products have helped to solve for additional challenges that regular LVT could not,” said Jeremy Kleinberg, senior product manager, Armstrong Flooring. “For example, telegraphing of minor subfloor texture.”

Ongoing developments
In 2016 WPC and rigid core products saw what many industry experts have called phenomenal activity. In fact the subcategories, combined, have more than tripled in volume from 2015. Most industry experts expect this growth to continue well into 2018.

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.15.01 AM“I wouldn’t be surprised if WPC/rigid core becomes the larger sub-segment of LVT,” IVC’s Sheehan said. While he sees these subcategories still gaining market share, he does expect the WPC/rigid core craze will eventually level off and allow for an increase in sheet market share.

As fairly new subcategories, WPC and rigid core are expected to see at least two more years of aggressive innovation. In fact, Mannington’s Tuley sees these subcategories still in the early, steep part of the growth curve.

“There’s also a significant amount of innovation that’s going to be coming,” he added. “I wouldn’t think that even in the next two years that will stop. You will see a significant number of entrants moving away from WPC and going toward rigid core.”

Tuley has a good point. As WPC and rigid core continue to grow, more manufacturers are adding the products to their resilient offerings. New rigid core and WPC introductions—as well as additions to existing collections—are already being brought to market only six months into 2017. For example, Novalis has introduced its High Performance Core (HPC Technology) line for WPC/rigid LVT. Wu sees these newer introductions taking market share from other categories as well as developing a greater presence in the commercial sector.

Manufacturers such as Karndean have developed new rigid products to meet dealer demands. “Our dealers had been asking for a rigid core product with Karndean designs,” Browder said. “With Korlok we have the perfect combination of industry-leading technology and our renowned design quality.”

Shaw Floors has also taken advantage of the success of WPC and rigid core with a mid-year launch of the company’s new Floorté PRO collection.

WPC and rigid core have managed to attract almost every manufacturer. One concern regarding these products is the possibility they might cannibalize traditional LVT. According to the experts, higher-end traditional LVT may take a hit; however, low-end LVT should be able to withstand the “perfect storm,” as one executive described it.

“While multi-layer flooring is definitely taking share over the click options of LVT, the traditional glue-down LVT is also growing,” EarthWerks’ Nisbet explained. “The multi-layer flooring options are taking place of the original click LVT, as well as alternate flooring categories. With the enhanced technologies and realistic attributes of these designs, the affordability and performance of multi-layer flooring, the vinyl option has become a clear competitor in the overall choice for flooring.”

USFloors’ Stepp doesn’t see the subcategories cannibalizing LVT; rather, they are providing the consumer or end user with various choices. “[WPC/rigid core] merely offers the end-user and consumer a choice based on functionality, application and budget. The consumer will make the choice as to what best suits her needs in terms of performance, fashion and cost.”

 

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Resilient: Can WPC/rigid core coexist with LVT?

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

By Ken Ryan

 

The overarching luxury vinyl flooring category featuring the incumbent LVT/P and newcomers WPC and rigid core continues to flourish and growth rates collectively are expected to exceed that of every other flooring category for at least the near term.

Will there be an eventually category champion? Does there have to be one? Flooring executives differ slightly on which segment will win out, but there is consensus that the three product types (for now) will peacefully coexist as they serve different market segments and applications.

WPC/rigid core: The once and future king?
Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.15.49 AMAs a sub-segment of LVT, WPC/rigid core has usurped LVT in many areas of the market, executives contend. “My sales have completely switched from LVT to WPC,” said Eric Mondragon, hard surface buyer for R.C. Willey, Salt Lake City. “WPC definitely has had the biggest growth, and WPC/rigid core has an advantage in click and floating installations due to the ability to hide subfloor imperfections.”

Jeremy Kleinberg, senior product manager, Armstrong Flooring, said rigid core products are viewed by some as an evolution of LVT. “As with any innovation, rigid core products have helped to solve challenges that regular LVT could not—for example, telegraphing of minor subfloor texture.”

Some observers say that while WPC has already cut into the share of LVT, rigid core offerings will take share from both WPC and LVT. “While rigid will take share from WPC as well as LVT, I don’t think it necessarily translates into a decline of WPC’s overall business because WPC should more than make up for it in what it continues to take from LVT and other product categories,” said Jeff Jaeckle, vice president of Jaeckle Distributors.

Steve Kuhel, product manager, Tarkett North America, noted that next-generation rigid core products are beginning to show even greater flexibility and are a threat to both WPC and LVT (glue-down and floating). “I see more of the same over the next few years—growth for WPC and rigid core products. There will be a grasping at straws that will result in over-engineered products beyond the consumer’s needs.”

LVT is not going anywhere
As long as LVT/P products (glue-down or floating) have the advantage of cost, process and true sustainability over rigid core and WPC, there will be a place for these offerings. Indeed, no one disputes that LVT will remain a relevant product segment that works best in multi-family housing and commercial applications due primarily to the cost-effectiveness and installation advantages.

“LVT will be very successful in DIY as it is easy to install and does not require a saw,” said David Holt, senior vice president of builder and multi-family retail and hard surface for Mohawk Industries. “LVT will continue to dominate the multi-family market due to pricing requirements.”

Casey Dillabaugh, owner of Dillabaugh’s Flooring America, Boise, Idaho, picked up on the theme of pricing (given the fact WPC/rigid core is viewed as a higher-end product). “I don’t believe we’ll ever see WPC enter the sub $1 range like LVT, so LVT sets itself up for success based on price point primarily. I do believe WPC/rigid core will attempt to enter the commercial/multi-family space but will struggle for a while due to price constraints.”

Future looks bright for WPC/rigid core
The consensus among flooring professionals is the luxury vinyl product category will continue to grow exponentially over the next several years and outpace the other hard surfaces, in particular laminate, low-end wood and sheet. Jaeckle sees the category shaking out this way. “While rigid will take share from WPC as well as LVT, I don’t think it necessarily translates into a decline of WPC’s overall business, because WPC should more than make up for it in what it continues to take from LVT and other product categories. If you consider all of these as being under the LVT umbrella, then the LVT category will continue its strong growth as it takes more share from other product categories. The innovations of WPC and rigid are the engines that will drive that.”

Wellmade Floors, a relative newcomer to the category, is marketing its rigid core lines as a step up from WPC. Its high-density plastic composite (HDPC) products are positioned as the first fully closed cell offering, with different constructions. “While vinyl products across the board can all boast exceptional HD print visuals and EIR textures, WPC and rigid core products eliminated telegraphing from subfloor imperfections, a major improvement over traditional LVT,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing, who, like many others, sees WPC and now rigid core as merely natural evolutions of the luxury vinyl category.

The case for coexistence
Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.15.39 AMFew executives are as adamant in their belief that these products will cohabitate than Russ Rogg, president and CEO of Metroflor, who argues that traditional LVT and WPC/rigid core/multilayer products “will absolutely” co-exist going forward. “While there is no question that the multilayer category—with all its variants—is arguably growing faster than any product on the market, there are still many areas where traditional, glue-down products will serve the customer or end user better than a floating floor. While the best multilayer products require very little expansion/contraction allowances, I don’t know of a manufacturer that isn’t recommending at least some degree of perimeter expansion as well as referencing size/area limits that will require the use of a T-molding eventually. This is a great example of where a glue-down LVT has an advantage. Think large, open spaces that could not accept a T-molding, for example.”

Scott Rozmus, CEO of FlorStar Sales, a top 20 distributor, said he doesn’t see the market as an either/or proposition for these waterproof resilient products. “Some folks might look at this as VHS vs. Betamax where only one technology survives, but I think it’s more like gasoline vs. diesel. There are pros and cons that may come into play with either variant, and the technology continues to evolve. The massive marketing behind WPC/rigid core certainly has—and will—continue to provide lift for these products. However, most of the options I’ve seen utilize a floating, locking system for installation. That’s not always the preferred methodology and in some applications actually is frowned upon. Thus other LVT variants will continue to have traction.”

While WPC/rigid core may not cannibalize LVT, it has eaten into traditional LVT’s share. Kleinberg’s take is that even as next-generation rigid core products win favor in the market there will still be demand for traditional LVT products. “Segment and channel considerations like the usage of the space, design aesthetics, installation techniques and price will be just some of the factors that will continue to fuel both rigid core and traditional LVT flooring.”

Piet Dossche dissects LVT, WPC
Who better than Piet Dossche, CEO of USFloors, marketer of the award-winning COREtec brand, to weigh in on the evolution of the LVT waterproof category. Here Dossche drills down into the different constructions that he said complement one another and help expand the overall category.

Solid LVT dryback. Mainly used in multi-family, commercial applications and where consumer price point is critical. Installed directly glued to the subfloor and requires extensive subfloor prep.

Solid LVT floating. Used in residential and commercial applications where subfloor conditions is addressed; exposure to sunlight/heat is not critical, but pricing economics is a factor. Requires substantial subfloor prep.

Rigid core. 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. This results in a thinner, harder plank.

Primarily suitable where higher indentation resistance is required and extensive exposure to sunlight/heat can occur. Ideal for commercial applications. Relatively forgiving over imperfect subfloors.

WPC. Composite core construction with foaming agent, creating air pockets in the core that function as a heat and sound insulator for ultimate comfort underfoot. Indentation resistance is ideal for residential and light commercial applications and dimensionally stable under moderate exposure to sunlight/heat. The ultimate product for residential environments and suitable for active households with built-in sound abatement benefits.

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Karndean expands portfolio with rigid core rollout

March 27/April 3, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 21

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.42.07 AMExport, Pa.—Karndean Designflooring has taken the wraps off Korlok, a new rigid core floor that was more than three years in the making. The new line features several elements that are meant to enhance speed and ease of installation; in this case, the objective was to construct a floor that would be suitable for projects that needed to be completed quickly.

“We took the time to perfect the technology and create designs that fill a need within our existing product catalog,” said Larry Browder, CEO of Karndean, noting the company approaches every project with a design mindset. In this case, the design team searched for natural materials that would be either too costly or impractical for everyday living and then meticulously brought out the true character of these materials in the new collection.

Korlok comes with a 5G drop and lock technology, which requires minimal subfloor preparation. Likewise, no adhesive is needed. The proprietary, waterproof K-Core technology behind the product provides a rigid core that allows for installation over most existing hard floors. Plus, the pre-attached premium foam backing saves on time, cost and labor since there is no need for a separate underlayment. It also makes Korlok quieter to walk on, making it ideal for upstairs rooms in the home where noise transfer is a concern.

Browder said every prospective Karndean product is put through the rigors of testing to ensure it performs to the company’s high-quality standards. “Korlok is composed of layers of premium performance, from our waterproof K-Core, to the 5G locking mechanism, to our K-Guard+ surface protection. Nowhere else will you find a rigid core product with the quality designs and performance.”

The collection offers 12 colors from woods sourced across North America and Europe, including Texas ash and butternut, which is hand selected from the East Coast to the cross-sawn grays of reclaimed French oak. Korlok is finished with Karndean’s K-Guard+ surface protection, which provides a hygienic, durable surface that is easy to clean, according to Browder. Korlok also carries a lifetime residential warranty and 15-year commercial warranty.

A complete package
Korlok is the latest entry in Karndean’s total flooring solutions package, which encompasses gluedown, loose lay and rigid core formats. In the portfolio are six glue down ranges along with two floating floor solutions—Karndean LooseLay and Korlok—each of which solves a different problem, the company said.

With the addition of Korlok, Browder said Karndean has a format to fit any type of subfloor scenario, be it an imperfect or uneven subfloor or a concrete slab in areas with high humidity. “Regardless of the install method, consumers and retailers can rely on every product we developed. Our mission is to develop the truest, most authentic designs possible across all installation options, which is why we offer more than 200 products across our total flooring solutions.”

Browder encourages Karndean’s existing flooring dealers to round out their assortments by carrying Korlok. As of press time, Korlok displays have not yet reached the retail marketplace. In fact, only a handful of dealers have seen the product. One of them, Bob Caputo, owner of Carpetland USA of Dothan, in Dothan, Ala., was impressed. “We are very excited about Korlok—the visuals are great. Karndean does a great job with style and color. This product is designed to be installer friendly, which is always a plus. This will be a great product for us.”

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Karndean Designflooring debuts Korlok rigid core at Surfaces

Karndean-Designfloor_logo-2-col-on-white-background-1024x270Export, Pa.–Karndean Designflooring will debut Korlok, its premium rigid core floor, at this year’s Surfaces in Las Vegas, Jan. 18-20. With the addition of Korlok, Karndean will have a product to cover any type of subfloor scenario across gluedown, loose lay and rigid core formats.

Shown is the company's Korlok in English Character Oak
Shown is the company’s Korlok in English Character Oak

Korlok is a rigid core floor secured by a premium 5G vertical click locking mechanism that is quick and easy to install. Its innovative PVC K-Core ensures a stronger, more stable core that is as easy to install as gluedown LVT with a simple score and snap. Korlok’s K-Core provides unparalleled dimensional stability and may be installed over imperfect subfloors and over most existing hard floor coverings. Its attached foam underlayment and IIC rating of 62 make Korlok Kardean’s most acoustically friendly product to date and is well suited for any environment where you’re looking to reduce noise transfer to rooms below. The collection includes 12 new colorways in a 56” x 9” format, and will be available in Spring 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wellmade unveils ‘HDPC’ line

January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15
By Reginald Tucker

HDPC-Cutaway.inddWellmade is taking the wraps off what it refers to as a new generation of waterproof core products. Dubbed high-density plastic composite flooring (or HDPC), these performance-oriented floors were designed for a variety of environments from residential to light commercial.

The new HDPC line, which is being marketed as “En Vogue” planks (an extension to the existing Nouveax collection), features Wellmade’s innovative co-extrusion process, which seamlessly molds a vinyl wear layer, waterproof core and vinyl backing into singular composite planks—all without the use of adhesives. Other key product specs include an 8 mil wear layer in an overall 4mm thickness. More than 40 colors are available.

“Wellmade’s HDPC technology represents a new generation of rigid core flooring products,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing. “Developed by Wellmade, the HDPC core features a proprietary blend of elements that when co-extruded with our vinyl wear layer and vinyl backer results in floors with increased density and hardness. Substantially more rigid than typical WPC products, HDPC reduces vertical deflection and increases dimensional stability. And because HDPC is truly a closed cell product, it’s 100% waterproof and outperforms existing rigid core products at higher temperatures and overall environmental extremes.”

Retail pricing ranges from $2.99 to $4.99 a square foot, depending on edge treatments.