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Surfaces tile coverage: Larger, bolder patterns define latest introductions

January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17

By Nicole Murray

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 4.14.00 PMThe bigger the pattern, the better. That pretty much sums up the overarching trend seen in tile introductions unveiled at Surfaces 2017.

Daltile, via its Panoramic collection, introduced a porcelain slab measuring 10½ ft x 51⁄3 feet. The products are available in eight colors in- thicknesses of 6mm and 12mm. According to Kim Albrecht, brand manager, the large slabs are ideal for floors, wall or countertops. “This is a testament to what can be done,” she explained. “We have never done anything this large. It is one thing to hear about it, it is quite another to actually see it. These looks have been popular in Europe and we now see it coming over to the U.S.”

The large-format theme was evident across the show floor, including the Marazzi space. The company’s signature product at Surfaces was Materika, which was displayed in a 16 x 48 wall format.

Materika is offered in four color options available in three styles—Flat, Linear and Wave. “Our focus is on high-end residential bold designs with a very fashion forward look,” said Micah Hand, brand manager. “As long as we are being innovative and think outside the box we can continue to create extraordinary products.”

Manufacturers attributed the move toward bigger formats and larger overall sizes to changing consumer tastes and preferences. “Everything is getting wider and longer, and people are loving it,” said Manny Llerena, director of sales and marketing, MS International (MSI). “As tile sizes expand, it is important to have every single size, style and width visibly available in your showrooms so consumers can visualize what they are going to end up with.”

In illustration, Llerena cited the company’s new porcelain wood plank waterfall display that showcases the various options for the consumer.

Beyond larger formats, suppliers also demonstrated their ability to develop a wide array of colors and styles. Take MSI’s Domino collection, which plays off black and white to give consumers flexibility when designing. The collection contains 3 x 6 wall tiles available in white, gray or almond paired with a glossy, flat or beveled design, which may be accented with black and white floor tiles measuring 12 x 24 or 24 x 24.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 4.14.08 PM“These colored tiles have been around forever because they are very style neutral,” said Emily Holle, creative director. MS International. “These colors can be applied to a traditional house as well as a modern house depending on how one’s style may adapt over time.”

Suppliers are also developing products and programs that give consumers and designers the ability to mix and match. Case in point is Emser Tile’s new CODE series, which features a variety of shapes, colors, dimensions and finishes.

“CODE lets consumers create their own aesthetics for endless looks and design flexibility,” said Barbara Haaksma, vice president of marketing. “It is as if the consumer is using a set of puzzle pieces to get exactly what she wants. For example, she can use hexagons and trapezoids faced in multiple directions for different looking patterns. The customer can even add a three-dimensional effect as an accent line along the wall.”

Other suppliers focused on out-of-the-ordinary products. K Stone, for example, displayed a variety of onyx and marble tiles available in a wide array of colors and designs. “We specialize in products that your neighbor doesn’t have,” said Adam Anderson, president. “Depending on the customer’s preferences, we have an onyx or marble design that is for her. We have whites, golds and grays—just about everything.”

—Ken Ryan also contributed to this story.

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Surfaces laminate coverage: Suppliers test category’s limits

Performance enhancements tout water-resistant capabilities

January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17

By Reginald Tucker

No longer content with ceding market share to competitive categories such as WPC and LVT, laminate suppliers are taking a page out of history by touting the features that first garnered consumer attention when the category first launched in the U.S. in the mid-1990s. Specifically, the category’s ability to go where other hard surfaces, namely wood, fear to tread—areas prone to water spills.

To that end, several large suppliers are incorporating new water-resistant or waterproof attributes in their product lines. Some industry veterans said it hearkened back to the days of the famous Formica water tank test demonstrated at Surfaces in the late ’90s.

Case in point is the new SpillShield moisture wicking technology from Mannington. Now offered on all its Restoration collection laminate floors, SpillShield is an innovative new coating that protects laminate floors against pet messes, standing moisture and spills. As Dan Natkin, vice president of wood and laminate, explains, it wicks moisture away from the core, preventing damage from accidental moisture and keeping its visual and structural integrity intact. “The difference between our technology and other waterproof laminates out there is we treat the edges and sides of each plank,” he said while conducting a demonstration at the booth. “This prevents moisture from penetrating the board.”

A similar demonstration was conducted across the showroom floor at the Quick-Step booth, where laminate planks were submerged in water alongside competing products that touted water-resistant capabilities. According to Roger Farabee, senior vice president of laminate and hardwood, the Quick-Step products performed admirably in the comparison test.

Performance attributes aside, another recurring theme evident across the laminate spectrum at Surfaces was the continued use of wide-width, wide-plank formats—clearly a nod to patterns that have emerged on the hardwood side of the business. In fact, those suppliers who play in different hard surface product categories freely admit to taking cues from one product segment, i.e., wood, and applying those attributes and qualities to other product segments such as laminates.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 4.05.18 PMFor example, Mannington introduced three new flooring designs into its popular Restoration collection this year. According to Natkin, these new looks tap into the trend of natural, reclaimed woods in muted, less saturated colors. Standouts include Blacksmith oak, a European white oak look that evokes images of gently time-worn flooring; Seaview pine, which captures the aged look of rustic pine that has been weathered by the elements; and Historic oak, which builds on a best-selling design in the Restoration collection.

In that same vein, Mohawk’s latest laminate offerings draw their inspiration from trends seen in its hardwood flooring offerings. For example, Painted Charm provides a clean, modern look in light tones while Reclaimed Spirit conveys a more rustic, weathered visual. Lastly, Wooded Vision imparts the look of recovered barnwood while Artistic Creation features aggressive saw-cut distressed marks.

Quick-Step also showed its strength in the design department. Its signature Veriluxe line was expanded to include new, stylish European white oak visuals, offering what Farabee called the “richest, most sophisticated premium looks and textures available today in the longer, wider market.” The company also expanded its award-winning 12mm Reclaimé collection with five new decors and added new designs in its 12mm Elevae collection.

Suppliers went to great lengths to expand their color palette and overall style offerings. Kronospan, for instance, unveiled nearly 100 new patterns and colors in a wide variety of patterns and species reflecting the global influence on design. The company made a huge splash at the show, showcasing five distinct, on-trend design collections: Authentic, Bohemian, Downtown, Pioneer and Voyager. Each collection contains unique styles and finishes, with formats ranging from 8mm–12mm thick to 125mm-204mm wide.

“The Authentic collection provides a diverse, colorful landscape and rich canvas for any design hue from traditional to modern,” said Mark Bircham, head of design and product management. “This perfect collection of native American beauties, available in different shades with natural tones, replicates classic styles for any room in the home. These genuine designs have stood the test of time as did the oaks, maples, hickory and walnuts of the American landscape.”

The Bohemian collection combines the perfect mix of the treasured and exotic to provide a wide range of colors, species and textures. Meanwhile, the Downtown collection was inspired by New York City’s diversity, Los Angeles’ lights, Miami’s colors and Chicago’s character. Pioneer and Voyager round out the latest offerings and include looks ranging from sophistsicated and cozy (Pioneer) to exotic offerings that reflect global diversity.

Not to be outdone, Swiss Krono unveiled its Wood Medley line available in four species, including oak, white walnut, weathered pine and birch. “We’ve worked hard on coming up with designs that are closer to real, authentic hardwood,” said Barbara June, who handles public relations for Swiss Krono. “Consumers would be hard pressed to tell the difference.”

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Surfaces wood coverage: Wider widths, longer lengths still in vogue

But expanded color palettes and unusual surface treatments emerge

January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.58.47 PMAs dealers and distributors traversed the show floor at Surfaces last month, they caught glimpses of something familiar. Many found themes that emerged from Surfaces 2016—longer boards, wider widths, innovative surface texture treatments—carried over into this year’s show. Not that it’s a bad thing—dealers and distributors asked manufacturers to develop more products consumers are clamoring for today.

At the same time, suppliers were not content to rest on their laurels. Several companies looked to expand the boundaries by pushing the limits in terms of color combinations, unique surface textures and treatments.

Case in point was Armstrong’s new solid and engineered offerings in its TimberBrushed and TimberCuts lines. Based on consumer and end-user demand, the award-winning TimberBrushed line is now available in both solid and engineered construction.

Likewise, TimberCuts is now available in both solid and engineered construction to meet all installation needs. Rounding out the new offerings is the addition of hickory to the Prime Harvest collection along with extensions to the popular American Scrape line.

Another eye-catching product line extension was uncovered at the Mannington space. In keeping with consumer demands for hardwood flooring designs that combine rustic elements with softer, less saturated hues, the company rolled out additions to popular existing collections. These introductions included wide, long planks that are subtly textured and distressed, then stained in an on-trend color palette.

The new patterns include: Iberian Hazelwood, marked by a lot of character with subtle hand scraping and deep multi-layer hand staining. Iberian Hazelwood offers a refined yet dramatic look and features an on-trend matte finish in planks that are 6 ½ inches wide and in lengths up to 7 feet. Available in four hues: almond, chestnut, macadamia and pecan. Next is an update to Normandy Oak, the best-selling design in the Maison Collection. Refreshed with two new colors, Normandy oak is a classic European-inspired look that’s lightly wire brushed and dual stained to create subtle variation from plank-to-plank. Planks are 7 inches wide and up to 7 feet long and come in two new, light hues—bistro and brulee—which speak to today’s interior decorating trends, according to Mannington.

“These floors are at home in interiors from classic to contemporary; urban to farmhouse,” said Dan Natkin, vice president, hardwood and laminate.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.58.13 PMArmstrong and Mannington weren’t the only companies drawing traffic and interest with their new offerings. HF Design launched a whopping 52 new styles at Surfaces in a strategy designed to “freshen up the offering and also to stay ahead of the curve,” said Alex Shaoulpour, president. Also unveiled was an entirely new collection called American Relics. This line offers products that feature a multi-texture, dual hand-staining process that delivers a greater degree of variation from plank to plank.

“There is no better way to start off the new year than with a tremendously successful show,” Shaoulpour said. “This year Surfaces was even more important for us as we introduced many of our new collections with high remarks such as American Relics, Montara Reserve, Montage Ferno and Aquasense. It was very uplifting to see we are right on point with our forward styles and designs.”

For HF Design, the aggressive expansion was not only about building its SKUs. It was also about ensuring its retailer and distributor partners get the support they need in terms of competitive products.

“Our initiative for 2017 is to strengthen our partnerships with our distributors as they gain market share and also build upon our reputation as market leader in all three product categories—hardwood, laminate and waterproof LVT,” Shaoulpour said. “We are dedicated to working closer with our partners to develop styles and decors that speak more to their local market trends at competitive price points.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.58.42 PMOther major suppliers used Surfaces as a platform to showcase their new product extensions. Quick-Step, for example, expanded its popular Elongé wider/longer collection to now include wire-brushed floors with a soft finish cerused wood visual. The new Elongé designs evoke a hand-crafted quality and appeal to the large number of consumers seeking hardwood floors that bring a rustic, time-worn look to a room.

“Like Quick-Step laminate, Q-Wood
hardwood is a fashion-driven product line that offers the richest, most sophisticated premium looks available in tandem with low maintenance and resistance to the wear of daily living,” said Roger Farabee, senior vice president of laminate & hardwood for Mohawk North American Flooring. “Our new Q-Wood Elongé ceruse designs offer style and craftsmanship through unique artisan hardwood floors designed with the latest trends in mind. Three of today’s hottest trends are longer/wider planks, wire-brused surfaces, and cerused visuals. The new Elongé line additions offer all of these attributes in a spectrum of fashion-forward colors with ceruse staining that features a combination of gray, white, and beige tones.”

On the higher end of the spectrum, DuChâteau displayed a bevy of new products in categories across the board (including porcelain and concrete), but it also stayed true to its hardwood origins by putting the spotlight on additions to its signature Atelier Series.

Products in the Atelier Series do not contain aluminum oxide or polyurethane finishes like the typical 3- or 5-inch products you see out there, according to the company. Instead, it focuses is on the hard-wax oil visual, which provides a rich patina and refinement consistent with upscale European styling.

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.58.37 PMIn that same vein, Provenza, another high-end hardwood flooring supplier, displayed its broad offering of custom finished floors. Dealers flooded the booth to preview collections that ranged from custom parquetry to stained wood floors all the way up to products featuring detailed weathered treatments. “Our goal is to provide our distributors and retailers with products they can’t find down the street or at a competitor,” said Ron Sadri, president.

Mohawk also broadened some of its signature wood lines to keep up with consumer demand. Weathered Vision aims to capture the rustic, reclaimed beauty of a Midwestern barn loft, while Modern Vision is designed for consumers who lean toward more modern, cool visuals. Lastly, Coastal Impressions features a neutral color palette of whites, grays and light beiges in long, wide planks.

(Look for more Surfaces coverage in future editions.)