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Beauflor USA introduces latest sheet vinyl collections

White, Ga.—Beauflor USA has launched two new crafted sheet vinyl collections, Metro Refresh and Reflect, featuring 27 SKUs. Both collections are designed specifically for the builder and property management markets with versatile FHA approved construction, on trend color schemes and unbeatable price points. This brings Beauflor’s total Made-in-America crafted sheet vinyl collections to 15.

The Metro Refresh collection is an updated version of the company’s original Metro collection with 10 new colors—all now manufactured locally in Cartersville, Ga. Styling in the Metro Refresh collection includes a mix of tile and wood patterns. The collection offers 15 alluring colors designed to emulate the organic, earthy texture of wood and stone, and to bring a sense of calm and relaxation into any space. The original Metro collection will be phased out.

The Reflect Collection is a new addition to Beauflor’s crafted sheet vinyl product mix and introduces 12 breathtaking colors designed to invoke visions of traveling to near and far destinations. Once the floor is installed, it is crafted to create a sense of retreat from the distractions of everyday life, while withstanding the rigors of it. Reflect is a valued added collection that features a 75-gauge thickness that is unbeatable at its price point.

All of Beauflor’s crafted sheet vinyl collections are waterproof, stain and scratch resistant, and underfloor heating compatible. They also boast FloorScore certification, free of ortho-phthalate and 100% reclaimable.

Both collections and their associated samples are in stock and ready to ship. Any purchase inquiries should be sent to concierge@beauflor.us or 877.362.5562.

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Patcraft launches Vinings, Ivy Walk

Patcraft's Vinings
Patcraft’s Vinings.

Cartersville, Ga.—Patcraft has introduced Vining, the company’s newest LVT, and Ivy Walk, a heterogeneous sheet product. The two flooring products were created to work in tandem to impart a sense of being surrounded by nature’s serenity and evoke a calming atmosphere to promote healing within a space.

Patcraft's Ivy Walk
Patcraft’s Ivy Walk

Vinings was named a 2016 Silver Nightingale Award recipient in recognition for its contribution to the healthcare built environment through product design and innovation. It features a 30-mil wear layer with ExoGuard Quartz Enhanced Urethane, is FlooreScore Certified, contributes to LEED certification, and offers a 10-year warranty and 10-year underbed when installed with Shaw 4100 or S150. Vinings’ 6 x 48 profile offers a wide array of design possibilities for use in corridors, lobbies, patient rooms, office areas and nurses’ stations. Vinings is designed to coordinate with the colors in Ivy Walk, which gives designers and end users the ability to effortlessly use both products throughout a space.

Inspired by the lush tropical foliage of the rainforest, Patcraft’s Ivy Walk features an organic pinnate motif. The 6-foot-wide product features a 20-mil wear layer with ExoGuard Quartz Enhanced Urethane, can be flash coved and is polish optional, providing easy, low-cost maintenance. Ivy Walk is FlooreScore Certified and contributes to LEED certification. The product also offers a 10-year warranty and 10-year underbed warranty when installed with Shaw 4100 or S150.

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Resilient: Fiberglass-backed sheet expands its base

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

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.09.37 AMFiberglass-backed sheet vinyl is the unsung hero of the resilient flooring category—a product with characteristics that match up well with its more famous cousin, LVT, yet at a price point suppliers say is very competitive.

Given its well-documented performance attributes, sheet vinyl represents the best value on the market on an installed cost basis, manufacturers say. Within the sheet vinyl category, glass-backed has taken over as the dominant player over felt, research shows. Statistics indicate fiberglass sheet took home $362.5 million in 2015, which is 60.7% of residential sheet overall (FCNews, June 27, 2016). Compare this to five years ago when fiberglass represented $205 million in sales. In terms of volume, fiberglass commands roughly 61.4% of the residential sheet market.

Anecdotal information shows fiberglass is continuing to take share and grow in relative terms to the total market, with price and performance among the key differentiators. “Fiberglass is an easier product to work with and make repairs to if needed, and it does not tear like a felt product,” said Eric Erickson, vice president of sales, marketing, product and business development for Beauflor USA.

Others agreed. Mary Katherine Dyczko-Riglin, product manager, residential sheet vinyl, Mannington Mills, suggests the main reason glass-backed has overtaken felt is due to ease of installation. “Experienced installers are getting harder to come by in our industry, and fiberglass is more forgiving in that process than felt.”

While felt still provides advantages in rip-tear-gouge performance—and is still popular in markets with more availability of experienced installers—executives like Matt Savarino, senior product manager, resilient sheet, Armstrong, acknowledges that from an overall installation standpoint fiberglass offers benefits over traditional felt-backed floors. “Fiberglass can be installed as a loose lay or modified loose lay, meaning you use a releasable glue—or no glue in some instances—that is not permanent and can be pulled up and laid back down if necessary. Fiberglass vinyl floors are also waterproof, so they can also be installed above or below grade anywhere in the home.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.12.01 AMTherein lies another key in the ascension of fiberglass sheet as a desirable product—its waterproof characteristics. With so much attention being paid to waterproof floors—from LVT and WPC/rigid core to laminate floors with moisture-resistant properties—it is worth noting that sheet is a waterproof floor as well. Dyczko-Riglin said there are two main reasons why fiberglass sheet is gaining share, with waterproof being first and foremost, which makes fiberglass “a fantastic option for this market. Secondly, glass-backed is a great value compared to others in the waterproof category.”

Dimensional stability is another key benefit fiberglass offers. As Savarino explained, “Fiberglass vinyl won’t shrink, warp or change size after exposure to wetness or crack after repeated handling. When paired with superior underfoot comfort, fiberglass vinyl sheet provides a great mix of features that have tipped the scale in its favor over felt-backed vinyl sheet in recent years.”

New markets
Glass-backed sheet has been able to maintain its share in the residential market as well as penetrate the commercial segment, especially healthcare and property management. Fiberglass is taking stronger holds in the healthcare segment because of its stain resistance and performance ability in sanitary settings. “In property management applications the fact that fiberglass sheet offers realistic visuals at a competitive price point that’s stain, scuff and scratch resistant, and easy to clean and repair helps increase unit turnover usage, thus saving the property manager valuable time and money,” said Amie Foster, senior director, product management, sheet vinyl, IVC.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.09.57 AMSavarino said fiberglass’ growing acceptance in both residential settings and commercial buildings is due to the longer lifespan of these floors coupled with better aesthetics. He noted there has been increased interest in vinyl sheet products in the RV/manufactured home space as one example. “The ease of installation within glass-backed vinyl’s unique manufacturing process makes it an ideal solution especially with how far the visuals and designs of vinyl sheet products have come over the last few years.”

With more entry-level products on the market, fiberglass has been significantly expanding its role in the builder and multifamily markets.

Innovations emerge
In many aspects of home fashion, bold patterns are hot right now—and that trend extends to flooring. Mannington is channeling that aesthetic into its sheet lines with stunning visuals such as Deco. “We are continuing to explore ways to engage consumers with these options as these visuals provide style and beauty at an affordable price,” Dyczko-Riglin said.

Armstrong recently introduced Diamond 10 in its CushionStep Better and Duality Premium lines, which the company said significantly improves the product’s scratch, scuff and stain resistance.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 11.09.42 AMBeaufor’s latest introduction, Blacktex, is a cushion vinyl product in which a textile backing is applied to minimize subfloor prep. The product can be loose laid up to 500 square feet, adds warmth to the floor and provides enhanced sound absorption. “We launched this at Surfaces and the reception to the collection has been great,” Erickson said.

Forbo’s Marmoleum Click Cinch Loc is positioned as a naturally healthy, water-resistant floor constructed primarily of renewable resources, including linseed oil, wood flour and pine rosins. The combination of natural linoleum on water-repellent HDF with a cork layer backing makes for an acoustically sound flooring solution.

IVC is experimenting with advanced embossed-in-register technology with its fiberglass sheet vinyl products. The company is also developing new chemical embossing techniques offering enhanced textural physics that allow the product to rise and fall with designs such as a cobblestone or paver patterns. “We’re always looking at ways to improve and push the limits to take the market to the next level,” Foster said.

 

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Resilient: Sheet vinyl demonstrates its strong value proposition

October 10/17, 2016: Volume 31, Number 9

By Ken Ryan

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-10-40-57-amThe resilient flooring category has been dominated in recent years by the headline-grabbing success of luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and lately WPC. Meanwhile, sheet vinyl continues to forge ahead despite being one of the most underappreciated products in the market today. However, its worth is not lost on its legion of proponents.

“When you look at resilient sheet on an installed cost basis and add in the performance attributes, it’s the best value on the market,” said Dan Natkin, senior director of residential products, Mannington. “It’s waterproof, highly scratch resistant and has visuals that cannot be achieved in other categories at the same type of value price point.”

Eric Erickson, vice president of marketing for Beauflor, agrees. He also cited other positive attributes of sheet, namely the product’s increasingly realistically looking visuals. “It is sometimes hard to tell the difference from LVT to sheet. Cushion vinyl has a great performance story, superior sound absorption and is truly the best waterproof product out there.”

According to Amie Foster, product director–sheet vinyl, IVC US, sheet represents a strong ticket item that provides retailers with some of the best margins available in flooring. “It is a value for the consumer as well, as she can add design, performance and comfort without sacrificing her budget or compromising her wants for her home.”

Executives cite sheet for its durability, low maintenance and realistic visuals—distinguishing traits that make it an excellent solution throughout the home or in commercial environments. Sheet has a dominant share in the manufactured housing market. Here, builders can get sheet for $0.60 a foot for a good product that is easy to install. At SP Floors in Canonsburg, Pa., for example, sheet vinyl represents “the standard that goes into builder homes,” said Stacey Pape, owner. SP Floors does nearly $4 million a year in builder business—roughly two-thirds of its overall business.

Retail remains a strong segment for sheet vinyl within specific regions in North America because it offers the triumvirate of design, durability and value. “Given that sheet vinyl checks the box on all three of these factors it continues to be a product of choice by consumers,” said Matt Savarino, senior product manager, resilient sheet, Armstrong Floors. “Property management/ multi-family also is a strong segment of the market due to the fact that a property owner can offer their customer an extremely durable product with a leading design.”

If there is one area where sheet trumps LVT it would be hospitals and assisted-living facilities in which monolithic surfaces are required. Emergency rooms, for instance, require flooring that can be heat welded and flash coved to create an aseptic space. Homogeneous sheet products are regarded as the ideal solution in these environments.

 

Glass-backed sheet gaining share

For several years now, glass-backed sheet has been taking share from felt-backed products. That trend is expected to continue. As Natkin stated: “There are two reasons driving this: One is consumer perception; glass-backed sheet has a heavier hand and higher perceived value. The other is it is more forgiving on the installer. Finding good vinyl installers is becoming increasingly difficult and the lay flat nature of glass makes it easier to expand the installer base.”

IVC’s Foster added that fiberglass sheet continues to grow in the multi-family arena, thus further displacing felt-backed sheet. She said felt’s strongest channel is single-family builder but there is some movement toward glass in this segment as well. “That could be devastating to felt-backed goods.”

However, not everyone is bearish on felt. Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer/executive vice president of sales, Congoleum, acknowledges that fiberglass has managed to take a considerable amount of the market share. However, he said, “I think we are seeing a swing back to felt based on limitations of fiberglass on what the product is really capable of [achieving]. Limestone-based felt, for example, is a very dense, more robust product—the most versatile product in the market. It doesn’t have limitations on seaming. It adds to the value proposition.”

Armstrong, for its part, continues to manufacture both glass-backed and felt products depending on the application. As Savarino explained, “we ultimately want to help the customer choose the best solution for her space. Fiberglass offers distinct benefits versus other structures, including ease of installation, comfort under foot and water resistance. While we do forecast the shift from felt to fiberglass to continue, we continue to bring industry leading designs to our felt structures because we know there are still segments of the market and consumers that want a felt product. When a felt-backed product is installed correctly, it is the most durable vinyl sheet flooring solution out there today.”

 

Ongoing innovations

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-10-44-02-amToday’s sheet vinyl is manufactured using highly sophisticated techniques, complex methods and precise systems. The rotogravure printing process is the most commonly used method, offering unlimited possibilities in pattern and design to make the visuals as realistic as possible. This includes experimenting with inks, printing techniques and embossed in register technologies.

Armstrong looks at innovations from two standpoints: solutions and shopping experience. Regarding the former there is Stratamax, which is made of 70% limestone. “In addition to structure improvement, manufacturers are always looking at ways to improve the wear layer of the product to keep the product looking newer, longer once installed,” Savarino said.

At Mannington, the newest innovations revolve around creating visuals that are not achievable in other categories. A prime example is Centennial, launched in both felt and glass to celebrate Mannington’s 100 years. “The visuals in this collection are a nod to the past with some modern flare,” Natkin stated. “In particular, our Filigree and Penny Lane products are rocketing off the shelves.”

Congoleum’s ArmorCore, a heterogeneous sheet product ideal for light commercial as well as residential, features a “no-buckle” guarantee that has been a big success among builders. Denman said Congoleum is seeing robust growth with ArmorCore in a segment of the business where everyone is saying it is flat at best. Moreover, he believes it’s a clear sign the company is taking market share. “You would think a company 130 years old would not have any more tricks up its sleeve. However, there are many more tricks lurking up that sleeve.”

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Next-gen felt products provide new sheet advantages

September 15/22, 2014; Volume 28/Number 7

AirStep, StrataMax lead the way in alternative options

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 2.45.07 PMWhile many flooring executives note the importance of fiberglass sheet vinyl in their product offering and its ongoing capture of market share, felt products still command a significant portion of the market. In fact, FCNews research reveals felt still represents 38.6% of residential sheet sales dollars and 45.5% residential sheet volume (FCNews, June 30).

Felt remains desirable in sheet vinyl because it allows for some movement of wood subfloors. When examined under a microscope, felt contains long fibers held together with latex resin. When glued to wood subfloors that expand or contract due to atmospheric moisture or drying from heat, the felt will move with the wood.

Felt is also beneficial on concrete subfloors as the residual moisture collected from the ground can lift into felt layers, move to the outside edges of a room and fade off.

Unlike felt, fiberglass stays its absolute size, so on wood subfloors it is unable to expand and contract in harmony with the subfloor, which can lead to buckling or gapping. On concrete, the problem becomes one of moisture. If moisture is trapped underneath the floor there is no place for it to go, making the floor susceptible to mold and mildew.

While some major industry players continue to make felt products, those offerings are not felt in the traditional sense. Rather, an increasing number of companies are developing alternative sheet products in which felt is utilized but not necessarily for backing.

A benefit of fiberglass is its ability to lay flat, a characteristic considered by felt producers. Congoleum’s AirStep product, which the company categorizes as “flexible flooring,” includes felt in its construction but with a polymer composite backing underneath the fiber layer. “Now you have a felt product that can handle some expansion and contraction that you get in seasonal change in size in wood subfloors without buckling, whether glued down or loose laid,” explained Mike Sansone, senior vice president of sales at Congoleum. “With this construction we can offer all the benefits of felt with all the benefits of fiberglass. Fiberglass does not have the ability to move with the seasonal changes in temperature and humidity of wood subfloors the way AirStep can.”

Similar to Congoleum, Armstrong created its StrataMax line as a felt product with an extra layer on the back of that fiber portion. “We’ve taken felt products as they exist today and added a layer on the backside of the felt to encapsulate it and receive adhesive that sticks to the floor and provides that loose lay benefit,” said Rachel Lombardo, general manager of residential vinyl sheet for Armstrong. “There is enough product on the back of the felt to balance the structure as we would in a fiberglass product. Glue is not needed because the product won’t curl.”Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 2.45.14 PM

Installation options are critical in determining the desirability of a flooring product. While most fiberglass sheet floors are glued down, both AirStep and StrataMax boast loose lay capabilities. AirStep can also be perimeter installed with no size or seam restrictions. “[AirStep] can go directly over a ¾-inch subfloor without the added expense of a ¼-inch underlayment,” Sansone explained. “A typical subfloor today costs about $1.50 per square foot installed. You can save $14.50 a square yard in underlayment expense, or on a 20-square-yard kitchen, for example, you save 4 cubic feet of wood, so it’s a greener installation. There are no chemicals involved, no adhesives or odors/fumes. With loose lay or staple around perimeter you have a better system.”

According to Lombardo, installation—not construction—is what separates StrataMax from other sheet products on the market. “We don’t look at it through that lens [of fiberglass vs. felt]. We look at loose lay vs. glue down. Felt is insignificant to the story for our customers; the attribute they seek is loose lay, or products that can be easily removed when replacing. We will mention features and benefits of our construction, but it’s not our story.”

In terms of price, while StrataMax and AirStep are some of the more expensive products on the market (namely because of the additional layer in the product), the cost ends up being less to the end user due to a lower-price installation.

Armstrong has plans to launch a value-end product line from StrataMax to aggressively enter lower points where the larger piece of the market is flat. “That value product is more expensive than felt but less than glass,” Lombardo said. “It’s a better product for a cheaper price. We have an advantage as the cost of manufacturing is not as high as glass.”

Sansone anticipates improved technology relating to printing and design for products that include felt, particularly in creating more texture. “It’s very difficult to get in-depth embossing with fiberglass products because of the way they are constructed. There is a technical limitation to the manufacturing process of fiberglass.”

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Beaulieu International to build U.S. cushion vinyl facility

July 21/28, 2014; Volume 28/Number 3

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 10.36.02 AMBeaulieu International Group, one of Europe’s largest flooring producers, is making its initial manufacturing foray into the U.S. with plans to build a facility in Cartersville, Ga.

The plant will be built on 120 acres previously owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. In the first phase the manufacturing campus will design and produce 47 million square yards of fiberglass sheet vinyl for commercial and residential applications. The company expects to employ 350.

For Beaulieu International, also known as Beauflor in the states, the U.S. move is the latest in a series of bold international steps for the $2 billion company. Within the last two years it has acquired a textile company in Italy, launched operations in Russia and purchased a facility in Spain. The U.S. market was targeted as the next logical step, according to Steve Roan, sales and marketing director, North America, Beaulieu Flooring Solutions.

“The timing is right,” said Roan, who joined the company in April. “The U.S. economy is in recovery mode, and although it is not a robust recovery, it is a recovery and there are ample opportunities for growth here. The U.S. market is a key part of realizing our aggressive growth initiatives.”

Roan told FCNews the initial facility would be a cushion vinyl plant with 5-meter production capability. In Belgium, Beaulieu has developed products for residential and commercial applications in 2-, 3- and 4-meter widths in addition to 5 meters. “We are the only manufacturer with 5-meter capability,” he said. “This [move here] will allow us to manufacture and ship to our U.S. customers in a faster and more cost effective process.”

Beaulieu International is the latest company to announce manufacturing expansion in northwest Georgia, joining the likes of Shaw, Mohawk, Mannington, Engineered Floors and IVC.

For Roan, who has lived in the region since the mid-1980s, this move is personal. “It’s a big deal,” he said. “The opportunity to participate in an expansion like this and bring something to northwest Georgia was extremely attractive to me. This area has been very good to my family and me. These are very good people at Beaulieu International, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Beaulieu International Group, which has 3,500 employees in 26 plants and nine sales offices spread across 13 countries, is composed of three business units. Flooring Solutions is the European leader in wall-to-wall floor coverings (carpet, needle felt, cushion vinyl, LVT and wood). A second business unit, Granules, produces polypropylene granules for numerous applications. This division operates a plant in Louisiana that produces raw materials, including polypropylene granules. A third business unit, Engineered Products, houses the activities of fibers, yarns, technical textiles and technical sheets.

The group currently supplies products to the U.S. through a distribution center in Dalton and two third-party logistics companies, which heretofore stored product shipped from Belgium. However, Roan said those logistics companies are in the process of being consolidated into a single Dalton facility that will handle the logistics functions. That transition is expected to occur in August.

Beaulieu International Group said it uses advanced technology to produce cushion vinyl flooring and has invested heavily in the technical process to improve product benefits such as easy maintenance and greater sound absorption—as well as indoor air quality—by developing a top coat to ensure long-lasting protection.

One of its major points of emphasis is to control the sources of VOCs, for which the group has obtained certifications from Floorscore and other green leaders.

Beaulieu International Group is not to be confused with Beaulieu America. No business relationship exists between the two, although there are family ties.

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FloorFolio introduces new Striations sheet vinyl product

Striations Sheet Vinyl SSG-007Edison, N.J. – FloorFolio Industries is seeking to break the mold of traditional sheet goods with the new release of Striations sheet vinyl flooring.

According to president and CEO, Michael Freedman, “Striations sheet vinyl is the answer to our industry’s age old question, ‘What else is there?,’” said Michael Freedman, president and CEO. With its sleek linear design and contemporary colors, the Striations visual is an exclusive FloorFolio collection.

The company said Striations goes beyond the barrier in design and structure, offering all the elements of construction that FloorFolio has become known for.  Striations comes standard with a urethane top coat and is designed to deliver low maintenance features with a seamless installation.

For additional information about Floorfolio flooring, please visit: www.floorfolio.com

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Led by LVT, category still flourishing

By Ken Ryan

Vinyl is in vogue. So said Allen Cubell, vice president, residential product manager, Armstrong World Industries, who echoed many of the sentiments shared by industry leaders as the resilient category continued to grow in 2012 amid still sluggish conditions in housing and weakness in the general economy.

Marketing executives say the total resilient market will be about $2 billion in 2012, with LVT accounting for nearly 35% of the market, or roughly $700 million. According to a consensus of manufacturing executives, LVT’s growth will be in the 15% to 20% range in 2012, and even higher among top-tier manufacturers such as Mannington and Armstrong. Continue reading Led by LVT, category still flourishing