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Latest cushion products promote performance enhancements

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Nicole Murray

As consumer flooring trends continue to lean toward hard surfaces—specifically LVT, WPC and SPC—underlayment manufacturers are innovating to stay ahead as well as provide dealers with upsell opportunities. During Surfaces earlier this year, a host of underlayment manufacturers exhibited their latest products made for all types of flooring.

Amorim showcased its underlayment for LVT and WPC applications. “We have tweaked what we are offering to now include other products for WPC constructions,” said Larry Lyons, director of sales and marketing. “For our hard surface underlayment program, we have a lightweight product that’s very specified and everyone is using it because it is easier for laying down WPC.”

Lyons explained the benefits to using the product. “On the LVT side, if you have a connection with a property management client, there is an education opportunity for a retailer. A lot of the property management clients want LVT but don’t know about the potential sound issues. We have tools for retailers to help educate the end user about why they need the underlayment.”

Floor Muffler is also riding the wave of LVT/WPC growth with its new Floor Muffler LVT underlayment. The product is 1mm thick and features acoustical and moisture barrier properties.

“Once we started seeing LVT grow popular in apartment buildings, there grew a need for sound reduction,” said Collen Gormley, national marketing coordinator, Floor Muffler. “LVT is growing in the industry; therefore, it is growing for us. The underlayments that are already attached to LVT products may be more convenient, but then you are not using the best quality product with the best ratings available.”

Pak-Lite showed its one-of-a-kind fan fold underlayment applications made specifically for the vinyl and laminate industry. One of its key selling points is its ease of installation. “It is one of the easiest products to install and we have heard that from flooring experts themselves,” said Kimberly Liemkeo, marketing manager. “It is a doable installation process for those who are not very experienced, and the process itself takes out imperfections that exist within the flooring.”

WE Cork highlighted underlayment made for various floors. New to Surfaces was the company’s Warm and Quiet Plus, a 6mm cork underlayment that offers sound control under carpeting, wood and laminates.

Being that it is made from cork, this underlayment is lighter than other products with similar thicknesses. It also has no off gassing and offers a new level of comfort, especially when applied underneath hardwood flooring.

“Cork consists of 200 million closed air cells per cubic inch,” said Ann Wicander, president. “When you walk on cork, it will take a bit more concussion and will be that much more comfortable. While rubber is being used for a lot of multifamily situations, cork overall has a better performance and is more affordable.”

MP Global’s new addition, Quiet Walk Plus, was promoted throughout the show as a “one-stop-shop” underlayment billed as an upgraded version of its original Quiet Walk. Quiet Walk Plus has greater acoustic performance, compression resistance, moisture protection and longevity due to its fiber composition. It can also be paired with more flooring categories and types of installation.

“Quiet Walk Plus becomes your Swiss army knife that can handle being nailed, floated or glued down,” said Deanna Summers, marketing manager, MP Global. “The material is dense enough to support vinyl planking or WPC products and will not crush over time like we have seen with foam underlayments.”

Among the higher-end releases was Laticrete’s new Strata heat floor warming line, designed to be used under tile flooring. It’s controlled by a thermostat that can be adjusted through a smart phone app.

“A wire is placed throughout a mat that goes underneath the tiles, so the material will heat much faster,” said Maria Oliviera, corporate marketing manager, Laticrete. “This technology is best designed for bathrooms or kitchens and offers yet another level to upsell because of its ease for installation during an already existing project.”

To provide dealers with upsell opportunities is DriTac’s new “all-in-one” Total Sound Reduction System, which includes the 8301 Impact underlayment made for resilient and 8302 Double Impact underlayment for wood and laminates. The package comes with a lifetime warranty, enhanced moisture control of up to 10 pounds calcium chloride and 95% relative humidity. All the products come from one supplier. 

“We are marrying our underlayments with our adhesives to offer an enhanced system package that we can get fully behind,” said John Lio, vice president of marketing, DriTac. “It avoids any finger pointing because we know this package inside and out. It gives us all the more reason to stand behind these products because we make it a point to only release premium-level options.”

Similar to a few manufacturers, Centaur Floor Systems not only manufactures a variety of finished products mainly for commercial interiors, but it also provides the underlayment that goes underneath the flooring. Case in point is its Sound Reducer line, which is engineered to provide exceptional impact sound insulation results, even under hard surface flooring for concrete or wood-framed construction.

Also available with a waterproof membrane, Sound Reducer can be installed under most types of grouted, glued and floating floors—including hard tile, hardwood, engineered wood, laminate, LVT and carpet. It’s available in 48-inch-wide rolls in a variety of both standard and custom thicknesses (vapor barrier option available upon request).

Some of Centaur Floor Systems’ products already include the underlayment as a pre-attached backing. This includes the company’s Triple Threat line, which consists of a vinyl wear layer with a 7mm-thick recycled rubber underlayment. According to the company, the product saves time and money because installers only need to put down one material. “We fusion bond the vinyl to the recycled rubber backing so only one material is getting installed as opposed to two different products being laid on top of one another,” said Garnet Sofillas, public relations and communications manager. “Underlayment is always suggested for vinyl, so you can glue down our Triple Threat product directly over the subfloor, saving an installation step.”

Triple Threat’s maximum potential, according to Centaur, is utilized when applying the product to areas designed for exercise and physical activity—gyms or basketball courts, for example. “The material is very forgiving on the hips and joints,” Sofillas added.

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Spring product offerings ‘unseen’ at Surfaces

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Ken Ryan

 

While the vast majority of flooring companies exhibit at Surfaces, there are a handful of companies that do not partake in the big show, preferring other venues in which to introduce their new wares. Several of these offerings will be available soon and are worth a closer look.

Here are some of the spring introductions unseen at Surfaces.

Metroflor Engage Genesis

The Engage Genesis 1200ML Multi-Length series extends the narrow-plank format, featuring new 5-inch-wide planks in varying lengths of 24, 35 and 59 inches to add more dimension to the floor. The natural timber embossing is enhanced by a “painted” accent-bevel for more realistic plank definition than micro-bevel. The Engage Genesis 2000T collection features its first-ever tile format in a 16 x 32 size.

Mirage Lunar Eclipse/Sand Castle

As rich as it is vibrant, Lunar Eclipse boasts a look that’s anything but ordinary. With its shades of brown, black highlights and warm touches of beige, this versatile color will stand the test of time for decades without losing its original charm. Sand Castle is a sandy brown that looks like it was scooped straight from a desert dune. It’s a fashionable addition that is sure to be embraced for its timeless, classic style.

Mullican Wexford/Nature

Renowned for its high-quality hardwood flooring and environmentally sound manufacturing practices, Mullican Flooring’s distinctive collections are available in elegant, smooth finishes as well as rustic, hand-sculpted or wire-brushed surface treatments. Two new collections are Wexford and Nature. Wexford offers a classic, wide-plank farmhouse style with a 1⁄2-inch thickness and low-gloss finish. Nature, a 1⁄2-inch-thick sawn hickory, captures all the natural wood characteristics.

Shaw Bellera

Bellera will change how consumers feel about carpet, according to Shaw Floors. The company’s new Endurance high-performance fiber retains its softness and looks, creating carpet that stays beautiful for years. Consumers and experts can’t tell the difference between new samples of Bellera and those with five years’ worth of wear, Shaw said. Bellera includes Shaw’s patented R2X stain and soil treatment and LifeGuard spill-proof backing.

Tarkett Access

Access from Tarkett, which launched in February, is a glue-down LVT engineered to resist stains, scratches, wear and moisture. The collection features 10 wood grains and four stone designs. It carries a 15-year residential and five-year limited light commercial warranty. Access is FloorScore certified and phthalate free; in other words, it’s ideal for multifamily housing where a durable, good-looking and safe floor is essential.

Shaw Epic Reflections

Shaw Floors’ leading product designers celebrate the natural characteristics of hardwood with the introduction of Epic Reflections. The line extends the popular Extreme Nature collection, which features sliced visuals in ash, white oak and maple Appalachian hardwood. This collection highlights the imperfections of knots and grains with colorations inspired by the weathering process of raw wood as it is exposed to the elements.

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Technology: Flooring software aims to bring simplicity to daily workflow

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Las Vegas—Business management, estimating and measuring software manufacturers continue to serve up solutions to simplify flooring dealers’ daily processes. At Surfaces, these companies showed off the latest programs and apps in cloud- and browser-based formats for both residential and commercial businesses.

The following is an overview of some of the new programs and apps unveiled during Surfaces 2018.

Comp-U-Floor
Comp-U-Floor’s latest web and mobile applications are now all cloud-based, which has sped up the databases five or six times the original speed, according to the company. The software can also now be run on any device, including iPads, Androids, computers and iPhones.

“With Comp-U-Floor web and mobile, you can access your system from anywhere on any device,” said Mark Wiltgen, sales and marketing manager. “There’s now a mobile app available for installers, which has multiple filtering and search capabilities. It has secure dashboards to provide a quick analysis of all business operations, which are all filed and listed based on the user’s role in the company.”

With this updated system, retailers can now walk around showrooms with the customer and do all of the sales processes from an iPad or other hand-held electronic devices.

Kerridge Commercial Solutions
Kerridge Commercial Solutions has unveiled an improved installation scheduling interface, a real-time general ledger for mid-month financials and increased trigger functionality, which sends users notifications whenever data is added, changed or deleted.

“Trigger functionality helps resolve issues before they become an issue,” said Lisa Truitt White, marketing manager for North America.

“For example, when a backorder is delayed and a purchase order is updated, the sales rep in charge of the order is notified immediately and can manage the customer experience prior to a job delay.”

Kerridge Commercial Solutions is also in the process of increasing functionality in its already ingrained CRM software.

Measure Square
Measure Square introduced its latest AR tool, which aims to make it easier for homeowners and dealers to conduct a home measuring, according to Steven Wang, president. To use the tool, a user simply calibrates the device he or she is using to measure and then selects the corners of the room. After the measurement of the space is calculated, the user can select various flooring types to view in the space. What’s more, the user also gets a finished drawing of the floor plan.

In addition to the AR tool, Measure Square has updated the number of devices able to run its applications. “We have launched the same software on Android devices,” Wang explained. “It’s now available on all devices.”

Measure Square has also integrated with other flooring software companies, including QFloors, RollMaster and Comp-U-Floor. These integrations aim to allow information to flow seamlessly from one program to another.

One program currently in testing is Measure Square’s new AI technology. “The program can automatically detect where the corners of the room are,” Wang explained. “The user first uploads a floor plan and the AI tool automatically detects where the room is and what the dimensions are.”

RFMS
RFMS brought a host of software enhancements to Surfaces. Among them is the Measure Mobile Order Entry, which allows dealers to go in the home and complete a measure and order (see page 35).

In addition to several mobile apps, new installer scheduling programs and a new CRM mobile app, RFMS is also developing a new data collection system. “We’re bringing a whole new ideology into the industry with our data collection system called Business Insights,” said Terry Wheat, CEO. “We’ll be able to give you trends on different products, average selling prices in different regions, average costs, etc. We will have data collected in one central [repository], and all the people who are already sharing data are already able to benchmark.”

The new system has been in development for the past two years. “To date, we have 162 stores sharing data and we’ll have 500 stores by summer,” Wheat said. “Our goal is to have in excess of 3,000 to 5,000 stores sharing data. And then we’ll able to give users statistics on their financials and sales across the industry.”

RollMaster
Integration with Measure Square, new Install Web Calendar and Mobile Sales apps and automation are just a few of RollMaster’s new innovations for 2018.

“We’re integrating with Measure Square for commercial and residential measuring,” said Kelly Oeschlin, marketing coordinator/technical writer. “If users have RollMaster and are using Measure Square once they do the takeoffs and whatnot, it gets uploaded back into RollMaster.”

This integration, along with the company’s new apps, are part of RollMaster’s mission to help make users better businesspeople, according to Oeschlin. The Install Web Calendar and the Mobile Sales App were developed to allow employees in the field to have access to customer information, which promotes productive, knowledgeable conversations. Managers can also have access to inventory, payments and other key features to help run the business.

RollMaster has also incorporated automation as a way to help its users. “There are all of these programs in marketing and business that we’re bringing in and giving access to our users, so they can connect,” Oeschlin explained. “For example, online reviews with Testimonial Tree. We also integrate with Retail Lead Management so that users can access that program.”

Pacific Solutions
New to Pacific Solutions is the company’s multi-family portal for its mobile plan. As Bob Noe Jr., president, explains: “If you’re in an apartment complex and using the multi-family portal, you can call up the unit number and confirm the floor plan, and you can tell it whether or not you’re changing the carpet and then submit that information to the system.”

Pacific Solutions’ SiteDraw has also been updated to allow the use of an iPad as a reference point for measuring. SiteDraw’s current features include measuring, drawing, positioning, placing doors, measuring angles and curves, naming rooms, placing flooring product in designated rooms, recording nots, access to saved files and various export options.

The company also showcased changes to its FloorRight software, which allows users to import flooring plans, create materials, draw rooms, add transitions, add bases, estimate the job, generate reports and integrate with management software. “Now FloorRight software can automatically find wall perimeters,” Noe added.

QFloors
QFloors has released the first edition of QPro POS+, a 100% browser-based cloud software. According to Chad Ogden, president, all current QFloors customers will eventually be grandfathered into the software at no additional cost.

“Our QPro product is the one that everyone has been waiting for,” he said. “It’s the first time we’re selling it to the public and we’re excited as a company.”

As a browser-based cloud software, QPro has lower operating and material costs, greater device independence, easier customization, more flexibility and compatibility, easier third-party integration and enhanced security and redundancy.

In addition to QPro, QFloors is offering users a commercial version of the original QFloors and a Mobile Office application. The company has also integrated with Measure Square to provide seamless transitions from one program to the other.

“For our current users, the Mobile Office can help increase sales with less mistakes and the receivables go down,” Ogden said. “They can also do everything in-house.”

 

Digital services galore at Surfaces

Various tech companies got a chance to shine at Surfaces as they sought to provide assistance to dealers struggling with their own websites and digital strategies. Among them: Creating Your Space (CYS) and Floor Force, which showcased updates to their programs and proven solutions for digital marketing and CRM.

CYS demonstrated the depth of customization to its full digital marketing program. How it works: Every dealer gets a custom, unique program starting with the website all the way through the digital marketing. “It helps them not only get their hands around a complicated offering that changes daily, but it also ensures they get exactly what they need for their business,” said Jay Flynn, vice president, CYS.

CYS customizes its digital programs based on the following criteria: the size of a business, its goals, the competition in the store’s area and the store’s budget. “There are a number of digital marketing tools out there with varying goals and purposes,” Flynn said. “What we’ve done is broken it down for the dealer based on those four parameters and said, ‘Here are the tools and the right budget based on where you are for your business.’”

While digital marketing and social media strategies are still relatively fresh concepts to industry members, John Weller, co-founder, Floor Force, sees an optimism in dealers and a shift toward greater digital involvement. “We’ve gone from about 20% of our retailers investing in websites and paid advertising to over 50%. We now have over 1,000 retailers doing Google AdWords, which is a huge sign that people are starting to really understand digital marketing. We expect to have over 1,000 dealers on our Facebook campaign this year. Things are progressing.”

As for new offerings, Floor Force has completely changed its portfolio. “We’ve added integrated CRM to our program, and we’ve also partnered with Retail Lead Management,” Weller said. “We’ve developed a really well-thought-out CRM system that is fully integrated with our website.”
Floor Force is also launching a new Facebook inventory ad program that will allow retailers to put products into various product catalogs and clearance sections, which will then be continuously added to a curated product catalog of in-stock products available for consumers to see throughout their online journey.

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My take: Best of Surfaces entries that just missed

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Steven Feldman

 

This issue celebrates the Best of Surfaces winners, the awards competition co-sponsored by Floor Covering News and Informa Exhibitions, owners and operators of The International Surface Event, for the past seven years. The competition highlights innovation, technology, sustainability, style and design, and best large and small booths on display at the industry’s premier event.

It is structured in such a way where only the judges’ consensus choices are featured. But that doesn’t mean other products and companies were any less deserving. With no honorable mentions or runners-up, the competition fails to acknowledge products that almost made it, in the judges’ conversations to the very end. In fact, in some cases, more than one judge may have chosen a product that did not win because of a 5-3-1 scoring system. So I thought it would be appropriate to pay homage to some of those products here.

In the style and design category, won by Emser Tile’s Lakewood and Lakehouse, Mannington’s AduraMax Apex generated much consideration. The judges were deliberating over the waterproof product’s on-trend looks, contemporary colors, natural wood grains and finely detailed surface textures. The planks offer multiple widths with a visual not seen anywhere else on the show floor.

In the technology category, captured this year by Magnetic Building Solutions’ MagneBuild, Mohawk’s Omnify was discussed in depth. Omnify is said to be the flooring industry’s only omni-channel solution that connects online, in-store and product experience. The idea is to give retailers the content, tools and reporting to take their digital marketing to new levels with integrated social search, reputation management, website optimization and lead management.

The other product discussed heavily here was a room visualizer called Roomvo. How it works: A shopper can upload a photo of her room through her phone and see her flooring choice in high quality without the need for an app to download. Customers interact with the visualizer intuitively in seconds. Manufacturers and retailers integrate Roomvo with their existing websites, enabling it for desktop, tablet and mobile phone shoppers. While it may take room visualizers to another level, the judges felt it was not new compared to an innovation such as magnetic flooring.

Mohawk was also discussed in the innovation category, won by Raskin Industries’ Ceramix, a product billed as the industry’s first loose-lay LVT with built-in, authentic grout lines. Mohawk’s RevWood, its rebranding of its laminate collection, was the product, and one judge called it “laminate on steroids.” Mohawk calls it revolutionary laminate wood because of its waterproof nature. RevWood is also scratch and dent resistant, and features All Pet Protection. A few of the judges felt it was more about marketing than product, but the waterproof claim almost put it over the top.

In the sustainability category, won by Congoleum’s Cleo Home, a couple of other products caught the judges’ attention. First Marmoleum Click CinchLOC from Forbo was obviously discussed as linoleum is arguably the most sustainable product out there. Linoleum is naturally healthy, water resistant and made primarily from renewable resources, including linseed oil, wood flour and pine rosins. These natural ingredients provide Marmoleum Click CinchLOC with inherent anti-static properties to repel dust and dirt, making it easy to clean, thereby reducing exposure to allergens and contributing to better indoor air quality.

The judges also talked about Air.o, Mohawk’s 100% recyclable carpet. Air.o’s fibers are made from 100% polyester and don’t absorb moisture, helping to prevent the growth of allergens. It’s latex-free, odor free and produces no VOCs. A worthy candidate indeed, and a Best of Surfaces winner in 2017 for Innovation.

This year boasted a most deserving group of entries, providing the judges with a tough task indeed.

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Best of Surfaces honors innovation, booth space design

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By FCNews staff

 

Las Vegas—Six manufacturers were voted best of class in the 2018 Best of Surfaces competition, a contest sponsored by Floor Covering News and Informa Exhibitions, which owns and operates The International Surface Event. The awards program, now in its seventh year, has become the benchmark for new product excellence and booth design at the industry’s premier trade show.

The winners, which announced on the show floor at Surfaces, are as follows:

  • Innovation: Ceramix from Raskin Industries
  • Style & Design: Emser Tile
  • Sustainability: Congoleum
  • Technology: MagneBuild from MBS
  • Best Booth Design (over 1,200 square feet): Anderson Tuftex
  • Best Booth Design (under 1,200 square feet): Arte Mundi

The judging was initially conducted by a panel of floor covering retailers who were tasked with poring over the scores of entries in each category to come up with six finalists by the start of Surfaces. Specifically, they were each asked to explore all submissions and select their top six picks that they believe best represented the category in which they were entered. The most popular selections by consensus in each category made it to the final round, which were viewed on the first day of Surfaces—in some cases by the original judges as well as select retailers who agreed to offer their time and input.

The category winners are as follows:

Innovation
Raskin Industries
After taking home the Best of Surfaces award for innovation six years ago, Raskin returns to form this year with a win for Ceramix, billed as the industry’ first loose- lay LVT with built-in grout. Ceramix provides dealers with an alternative to ceramic tile and porcelain that can be installed in a day or two. While there have been other products with grout lines attached, none have achieved the level of realism that is inherent with this product line.

“Winning Best of Surfaces in the Innovation category for the second time is a great accomplishment for our entire organization,” said Michael Raskin, CEO. “It means so much to be recognized as unique in a highly competitive market.”

Raskin also paid homage to his late father, Gerald Raskin, who was an innovator in his own right. “I am honored and take great pride in knowing my father would be very proud if he was alive today,” he said. “He devoted his career to developing products since the early ’60s. As such, I think it would be appropriate to dedicate this award to my father, because he always strived to innovate with new products that had style and would stand out amongst the crowd. If it wasn’t for him I would not have had the opportunity to forge my own path in the flooring industry.”

Style & Design
Emser Tile
Emser Tile created Lakewood and Lakehouse as an ode of sorts to the beautiful biodiversity of aged trees. The realistic, head-turning products are offered in long 8 x 34 glazed porcelain planks. Lakewood is marked by distinct wooden tones that evoke rich detail and texture, while Lakehouse acts as an accent motif with bold color variation.

“It is an honor for Lakewood and Lakehouse to be recognized in the category of style and design,” said Barbara Haaksma, vice president of marketing. “Emser Tile consistently looks to bring a fresh approach to design, and these wood-look tile series defy boundaries by offering customizable installations with striking detail.”

According to Emser, Lakewood and Lakehouse offer a unique opportunity for retailers to sell and designers to specify complementary collections. “By breathing new life into wood-look designs, we believe we have created two series that will resonate with our customers in a lasting manner,” Haaksma stated.

Sustainability
Congoleum/Cleo
For Congoleum, the new Cleo brand represents a new era in sustainable flooring. The mineral composite core is a truly unique, eco-forward base that combines 85% locally sourced limestone with a 100% PVC-free binder that eliminates all plasticizers and chloro-chemicals, the company stated. Every layer of the product’s construction is completed in the USA, establishing an exceptionally small carbon footprint.

But that’s just part of the story. Cleo also delivers high marks on the aesthetic front. The product offers virtually unlimited style and design visuals that have an exceptionally high number of unique and non-repeating patterns—as high as 60 in certain designs. This is accomplished through an innovative direct-to-base digital printing process that uses 100% solvent-free inks. The vibrancy of the visual is further enhanced with a ultra-clear, high-performance 100% solids urethane coating that is VOC-free and delivers uncompromising protection from scratching and fading.

“The introduction of Cleo and subsequently winning the Best of Sustainability Award at the Surfaces show is a tremendous achievement and honor,” said Chris O’Connor, president and CEO. “Cleo is truly different in every way and simply put, there is nothing like it in the market today. The patented construction features a PVC-free and waterproof mineral composite core, high-fidelity digital imaging and ultra-clear protective coating that put Cleo in a category by itself.

“Chemical embossing for sheet vinyl and the introduction of the world’s first groutable LVT are great examples of how Congoleum has delivered meaningful innovation to the flooring industry for more than 130 years,” O’Connor added. “It is this commitment to challenging the status quo that has enabled us to bring Cleo, the next generation of innovative and sustainable flooring to life, and we are grateful for the recognition.”

Technology
Magnetic Building Solutions
After generating a ton of pre-show buzz, the new MagneBuild line from Magnetic Building Solutions (MBS) lived up to its billing. The innovative magnetic installation system was created by a joint collaboration between industry leaders and experts in the field of space and military technology.

MBS pushes magnetic capabilities to new heights, providing the industry with an easily interchangeable interior surface solution. How it works: The underlayment system of MBS utilizes magnetic technology as the foundation for all types of floors. To install, users simply roll it out over any smooth and clean dry subfloor surface. A key benefit of this new technology is that it alleviates many installation issues as floors no longer need to be bonded, making seams a non-issue.

Thanks to the innovation, a larger group of cost-conscious consumers can push past the limits of the need to be neutral, allowing for more adventurous interior design options, according to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), which unveiled the product and conducted demonstrations at the show.

The unveiling was more than enough to inspire dealers to cast their votes for the product in the technology category. “As a newly launched product, we are thrilled to receive this award and to be recognized as the recipient in the technology category,” said Scott Humphrey, CEO of the WFCA. “MagneBuild is a game changer for our industry. There is nothing like it in the world and its applications are endless.”

Freida Staten, WFCA vice president of marketing communications, agreed. “Being recognized with the Best of Technology Award provides us with an amazing sense of validation. The experts who recognized us with this award confirmed our belief that the MBS system can, and will, make a difference. They saw an installation system that works with every flooring category and extends the reach of floors to include walls.”

Best Booth
(>1,200 square feet)
Anderson Tuftex
Combining the Anderson and Tuftex hard and soft surface brands under one banner not only makes common sense (because this is how people live in their homes, company executives explained), but it also presents a unique opportunity to double down on new ways to market and merchandise mid- to upper-end hardwood and soft surface products.

“We have reconceptualized both brands, updated the merchandising along with a new website so everything is fresh,” said Katie Ford, director of brand strategy. “It’s on trend with everything our consumer is looking for. She’s not thinking about hardwood or carpet; she’s thinking in terms of how the overall room is going to come together.”

Dealers in attendance at Surfaces recognized and appreciated this strategy, which is one of the reasons why they voted Anderson Tuftex—which made its debut in a two-story space—for Best Booth in the large category. “We were beyond thrilled to receive the award for Best Large Booth Design from the retailers that attended the Surfaces show in Vegas,” Ford said. “As we designed our booth, the words we kept in mind were: authentic, thoughtful and approachable. We knew we wanted to provide show-goers a breath of fresh air in our space and an opportunity to take in the intentionality and craft inherent in Anderson Tuftex products.”

Best Booth
(<1,200 square feet)
Arte Mundi
Arte Mundi’s booth was designed as a visual tribute to its mission, serving as a physical extension of its primary goal: to infuse life and art into living spaces. To that end, the company’s Surfaces presentation played off the modern architectural structures and shapes inspired by contemporary art museums. The intended ambience is one of minimalism to impact the attendee experience in letting its products, its art pieces, speak for themselves.

The Arte Mundi booth was compartmentalized in a way that presented the company’s full spectrum of products. This included current running lines, new products for 2018 as well as conceptual products. And let’s not forget one of the biggest highlights of the space: brilliant Swarovski crystal element floors.

John Lee, the company’s president, appreciated the honor. “Arte Mundi is humbled to say that our U.S. debut at the Surfaces show was honored to win the Best Booth award. The intended inspiration for our exhibit was for it to be a direct reflection of our company mission and our corporate beliefs. Both our marketing and design teams worked tirelessly to demonstrate the capabilities of Arte Mundi. We are beyond grateful to be recognized by the panel of judges, some of the most respected professionals in the industry, and in turn are motivated and encouraged to continue to pursue this standard of greatness.”

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Surfaces Laminate Coverage: Suppliers look to cash in on waterproof craze

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Reginald Tucker

 

Water, water everywhere. Some of the laminate booth spaces at Surfaces this year looked more like aquariums than traditional room vignettes with all the fish tanks and waterfalls touting the products’ enhanced water-resistant or waterproof capabilities. It’s a trend that manufacturers are looking to leverage. Case in point is Mohawk, which has revamped the way it is marketing its family of laminate brands, including Quick-Step (see feature story on page 14). The focus on waterproof/resistance capabilities, some suppliers say, reflects the product’s evolution in recent years.

“We’re relaunching our laminate lines under RevWoods—short for revolutionary wood flooring—with All Pet Protection, meaning our technology keeps the water on top of the surface without seeping through,” said Angela Duke, senior brand manager, hard surface. “I’ve walked the show and seen a lot of push for water resistance. The difference with our product is we’re calling it waterproof. And what makes ours waterproof is three technologies: beveled edge plus the Uniclic locking system and a HydroSseal on top. There are three technologies working together. It’s the same technology featured on Quick-Step NatureTEK laminate.”

Mannington is also playing up the category’s water-resistant attributes via its SpillShield technology. Featured on its signature Restoration collection, the innovation aims to address everyday spills, wear and tear—not catastrophic events such as floods. “What we talk about are the real-life things that happen in the home,” said Dan Natkin, vice president, hardwood and laminate. “The industry has made a complete, blown-out-of-proportion claim. The industry has gone to a single-attribute selling: fill this hall with water right now and no flooring will be damaged. If you have a traumatic flooring event in your house, the flooring is going to get replaced no matter what. In most states that’s the law.”

SpillShield, which was recently recognized as being one of the 30 most innovative products that can be used in the kitchen and bathroom, comes with a 72-hour guarantee that standing water won’t damage the floor. “We designed our products to withstand the everyday accidents—water from the ice maker, dog water bowl, spilled milk, etc.,” Natkin said. “We’ve developed technology to resist all that and we’ve put a warranty behind it. In one year we’ve had one claim—and that’s millions and millions of square feet.”

For Mannington, it’s not just about repelling water. “We focus on all the performance attributes, not just moisture protection—indentation resistance,” Natkin said.

Other suppliers are also investing in technologies to bolster the category’s resistance to moisture and water damage. CFL, which introduced its AtroGuard water-resistant laminate line several years ago, believes the technology has come a long way. “It’s not 100% waterproof, but it has advantages the resilient category doesn’t have,” said Thomas Baert, president. “It’s also good for bathrooms, kitchens, etc., meaning homeowners can wet-mop it. It has been proven on the market now for more than three years, and is one of our best sellers.”

Design enhancements
Laminate suppliers are not only making strides in terms of performance. They are also improving visuals, especially with respect to replicating natural materials such as wood.

Inhaus took the wraps off its Classic Estate collection, which features traditional, open-grained flooring patterns derived from real wood recovered from historic barns located in rural Pennsylvania. According to Derek Welbourn, CEO, “Inhaus designers sought out and salvaged these unique timbers and created a collection with distinctive character and subtle beauty that only time and history can create.” Other noteworthy additions to the line include Eden, a classic European oak wide plank look; Fruitvale, which features knots and worm holes; and Parkwood, a dark stain plank with bamboo-like graining.

Mannington launched three new products to its Restoration collection: palace plank and palace chevron, which play on popular shapes like herringbone seen in hardwood. “What’s cool about these patterns is you can do a chevron in one area of the house, come in with a plank in another area for a customized effect,” Natkin explained.

RevWoods launched in three new styles reflecting the popular wider/longer trend. “We’re duplicating some of the same looks we’re showing on the hardwood side,” Duke explained. “The trend toward wider and longer is still strong, as new homes feature open spaces.”

Although Quick-Step features the same underlying construction, the designs and patterns will differ from the Mohawk brand. “With Quick-Step being in the Mohawk family, we wanted to simplify the process,” Duke explained. “In the past we’ve gone with two different brands and different technologies and people were confused by that. Now we’re going to market and saying we have the same technology, just different brands. And that ties in the Quick-Step brand with the Mohawk brand. However, the brands will be differentiated by design. Mohawk will be targeted toward the higher end consumer.”

Swiss Krono also display its expertise in the category, drawing on the company’s manufacturing capabilities and strengths in all facets of laminate production. “We’re making investments in designs, textures and moisture-resistant products,” said Travis Bass, executive vice president. “We are also adding higher value product manufacturing capacity to reflect the shift in consumer demand.”

Not to be outdone, Uniboard displayed its expertise in the laminate flooring category with 16 new styles and designs. This is much to the delight of distributor partners like Stephane Leveille, president, Tapis Beaver, “We sold about $1 million or more worth of product. The quality are the visuals are very good.”

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Surfaces Ceramic Coverage: Tiles go bigger, colors stay neutral

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Nicole Murray

 

One thing still seems to be true regarding the tile trends at this year’s Surfaces: the bigger the better. Large slabs with infinite design possibilities due to printing technologies were seen all over the showroom floor in varied thicknesses. These new slabs are available for floor, wall or countertop applications.

Roy Viana, Dal-Tile’s director of slab and natural stone tile, raved about Daltile’s Panoramic porcelain series. The series’ larger tile formats, which include a 10 x 6-foot tile, provide a cleaner, monolithic look. Industrial Panoramic comes in four colors, while Elemental Panoramic is available in seven colors that mainly revolve around shades of white with marble imitations. Tiles for both of these collections are available in varied thicknesses including 12mm, suitable for countertop applications, and 6mm, ideal for floor and wall applications.

“We had to go bigger because peoples’ kitchen islands are growing larger and their surrounding counters have larger wrap-arounds,” Viana explained. “Within this collection alone there are various color and texture options for just about any look to be achievable along with the durable and long-lasting benefits of porcelain.”

Some of Daltile’s other offerings include Emerson Wood, a wood-look tile with subtle wire-brushed effects in 6 x 48, 8 x 48 and 12 x 48 formats. The large format tiles also feature Daltile’s innovative StepWise technology for improved slip resistance. RetroSpace is a translucent-glazed wall tile that reflects light in spaces and can be mixed with other tiles designs. There is also Chord, a cement-look offering available in a floor tile, 12 x 24 decorative accent and 3-inch triangle mosaic.

Also from the Dal-Tile family of brands, Marazzi is launching D_Segni this spring, which offers a classic reinterpretation of traditional handmade cement tiles. The product will be available in an assortment of colors and decorative accent tiles that can be used individually or mixed together. D_Segni is available in an 8 x 8 floor and deco tiles. Hawthorne is one of Marazzi’s new wall tiles available in an 8 x 24 large format as well as 10 x 14 and 4 x 12 versions. Colors include monochromatic shades of white, taupe and gray in two types of construction: smooth flat surface or beveled edge. Arenella, another introduction, presents the illusion of marble with soft natural tones. It is available in a variety of sizes for floor and wall applications as well as a 2 x 2 mosiac dot-mounted on a 12 x 12 sheet.

American Olean, another Dal-Tile brand, highlighted three of its new spring collections. Union offers an authentic interpretation of time-worn, weathered concrete factory floors. Designed with StepWise technology, Union touts improved slip resistance. Windmere provides smooth concrete and weathered stone looks in a monochromatic color palette. The collection features a full assortment of floor and wall sizes including a mosaic and jolly trim. American Olean’s third collection, Visual Impressions, offers a contemporary and fashionable wall tile in neutral colors and 3D patterns.

Other manufacturers are also taking advantage of the latest printing technologies. For example, Del Conca showcased its Boutique collection—a marble-inspired porcelain series available in four colors. The collection was also just released in 48 x 48 panels.

“The bigger face is so much easier to sell and offers a rustic charm with the dark brown and taupe options,” said Kendall Litton, marketing specialist, Del Conca. “There are visible veins where one could truly be fooled into thinking this is a marble product.”

Among Emser Tile’s product debuts was its Porch collection, a porcelain plank printed in wood patterns with color variations in each individual piece. The collection comes in four colors, but the plank’s “cutting-edge” attribute is its wide range—6 x 47, 8 x 47 and 12 x 47—a variety that allows for staggering patterns when various widths are used side by side.

“The [ability to] mix and match the widths along with the color variation allows for experimentation with light and dark colors as well as patterns and shapes all in one material,” said Barbara Haaksma, vice president of marketing, Emser Tile. “You have the option to use only one size panel for a more uniform look, but that would not be taking advantage of all this collection has to offer.”

The manufacturer’s other offering, Façade, is a cement-themed collection that is combined with a plaster effect to give the tile a much softer, more pleasant feeling. This collection, which can be used for interior and exterior applications, is available in four colors in two panel sizes: 12 x 24 and 18 x 36. As Christine Wu, product development manager for Emser Tile, explained, “We are building on the concrete trend but offering a more welcoming texture, which is something you don’t see very often on the market these days. These colors are so understandable and very diversified.”

Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville, said the manufacturer’s new porcelain stone tile collection, Java Joint, exemplifies the continuous need for fresh designs that play with the basic neutrals. Java Joint is available in 12 x 24, 2 x 2 mosaic and is offered in five different colors. “The colors of this collection are all warm and comforting—similar to the feeling of a coffee shop,” Waldrep explained. “These colors give you flexibility but have just enough edge so your final design looks new and fresh.”

On the topic of flexibility, Dal-Tile’s Viana added that white continues to be one of the best-selling colors within the tile industry because of its ability to balance with the other patterns or designs. “White will always be a best seller,” he said. “Now consumers can have an easily maintainable product that offers a clean and chic look but will complement these bold and more accent-like designs for a nice, easy balance.”

 

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Anderson Tuftex turns heads in Surfaces debut

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Ken Ryan and Reginald Tucker

 

Putting the brands together just makes sense because this is how people live in their homes. That’s how Katie Ford, director of brand strategy, describes the thought process behind the combination of the Anderson and Tuftex brands to form one company.

Rest assured, this is not just a merger of brands for simplicity’s sake. “We have reconceptualized both brands, updated the merchandising along with a new website so everything is fresh,” Ford said. “It’s on trend with everything our consumer is looking for. She’s not thinking about hardwood or carpet; she’s thinking in terms of how the overall room is going to come together.”

Retailers got a firsthand look at the combined Anderson Tuftex at Surfaces.

Wood
According to Ford, Anderson’s hardwood offering had somewhat “fallen off over the years and started looking like everything else.” So when the company decided to put the two brands together, she said the goal was to make sure it came out with some bona fide show stoppers. The first is called Fired Artistry, a new design available in four colors. Ford explained the origin of the name: “It’s based on an ancient Japanese wood preservation technique call yakisugi. We paint it black, put the stain on top and then hand sand off an area so you can see the black peeking through the product. It has great board definition as well as a matte, low-luster finish. It’s definitely trending in hardwood.”

Another head turner is Triology, which comprises oak, maple and hickory in one board. By using this combination, Ford said, customers get different patterns due to the grain variation. “When we do the painted technique on top of it, you can see how the different species take the color differently. Everybody wants distressed, time-worn and lived in, and you’re really seeing that look on this product.”

Anderson Tuftex also sees an opportunity to promote more traditional products inspired by old ¾-inch favorites in the line (Bernina hickory and maple). As Ford describes it: “It really goes back to that antique, old-school visual. With its thin strips, it almost looks like an antique floor in an old warehouse. Because it’s not your wide-plank board, it has a timeless feel to it.”

Then there’s Old World, a long/wide board product that Ford calls the “star of the show.” Available in an 8-inch-wide format in lengths up to 72 inches, the line is a fixed-link 6 x 24 herringbone that can be installed in various patterns, including a basket weave. For good measure, the line features a naturally oxidized aging process (NOA) for effect. “It already has great bones; we just added this oxidation process to speed up the aging process to get a look that would naturally occur over time.”

Carpet
Anderson Tuftex showed three lines for 2018, including Tavares and Tanzania, each noted for their patterned cut-pile constructions in Stainmaster Luxurell nylon fiber with SoftBac backing.

This premium brand is not afraid to be bold and edgy. At its booth, Anderson Tuftex installed a distressed concrete visual more commonly seen in hard surfaces. The ability to use advanced technology to create such a look in carpet can also complement the brand’s wood products. Another Anderson Tuftex SKU showcased a 3-D raised medallion. “Our carpet styling is on point,” Ford said.

Anderson Tuftex will be introducing carpet styles in nine design themes in 2018. Products will begin shipping in March.

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Surfaces Resilient Coverage: Innovations aim to add simplicity to the buying and selling process

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Lindsay Baillie

 

There’s a common thread among the plethora of new resilient flooring products introduced at Surfaces: They all aim to make it easier for retailers to sell and consumers to understand.

A majority of the manufacturers at the event noted that the resilient market is saturated with products—a phenomenon that can cause confusion for distributors, retailers and consumers alike. To address this issue, manufacturers are providing retailers and distributors with updated styles and newer product constructions in conjunction with greater education, explicit branding and unique product stories.

Education and innovation was a focal point of Karndean Designflooring’s 2018 introductions, which entailed new SKUs across three formats: glue down, loose lay and rigid core. The ultimate goal, the company said, is to encourage retailers to rethink flooring. “We’re trying to get retailers to see flooring differently, design flooring differently and specify flooring differently so that they have a way of making more margin and really beating out the competition,” said Emil Mellow, director of public relations.

Part of rethinking flooring involves a complete understanding of how Karndean’s products work together to create designflooring. “With our new SKUs, we’re trying to push design differently,” Mellow explained. “For example, with Korlok, we tell retailers you can blend SKUs.”

Mohawk’s new sheet vinyl lineup is bringing awareness to a product category that has consistently been losing market share to LVT, WPC and SPC. According to Angela Duke, senior brand manager, Mohawk, the company still sees a market for sheet vinyl and so should retailers. “This is one of the most durable floors. It is one of our highest margin products because of its lower price.”

Mohawk’s new sheet vinyl features a new technology called ClearGuard, which aims to show consumers how easy it is to clean the product. Duke explained dealers should also take advantage of the product’s waterproof qualities. “We’re seeing a lot of push for this product in different areas such as laundry rooms, basements and bathrooms.”

Educating dealers on product features is also a key point for Forbo. The manufacturer’s Marmoleum with click cinch lock is available in a wide array of colors, allowing retailers to offer consumers something out of the ordinary. What’s more, dealers can mix and match the square and plank formats to create unique flooring designs. “What if you could get a click product that is easy to install and with more vibrant colors?” asked Tim Donahue, residential national sales manager. “You’re not going to get these colors in an LVT.”

Forbo has also added FlowTex to its product portfolio. To create the texture of FlowTex the product is “flocked,” a manufacturing process that combines a PVC backing, a layer in between and an adhesive on top, followed by a magnetic charge that activates the product. Once the product is dried, it becomes  impenetrable to water, Donahue said. “FlowTex is a textile version of a resilient and is actually closer to a hard surface than a carpet.”

Fusion, the distribution division of USFloors, is focused on educating its customers on the positives of doing business with the company. “We offer completely different colors and SKUs than USFloors,” said Jim Nielsen, vice president of sales. “We cover all of the bases with this category, and we’ll stay at the very forefront of technology and give our distributors service and compassion.”

The company’s two investments for 2018 are its enhance bevel WPC and SPC. “These are higher end, design-focused products,” Nielsen explained. “They’re very realistic looking compared to what we’ve had in the past. We’ve also attached a pad, which provides more comfort and is sound deadening. Distributors will be able to get more premium price on these products than what is out there.”

Happy Feet also emphasized the importance of educating the retailer on the benefits of partnering with the right manufacturer, going beyond product specs. In addition to the company’s new products such as Blockbuster and Gladiator, Happy Feet boasts competitive pricing, shipping within 24 hours and unmatchable inventory. “We want to help retailers make money,” said CJ Johnson, sales.

What’s in a brand?

Some manufacturers introduced new products at Surfaces that aim to help strengthen brand recognition in consumers and make it easier for dealers to better identify products in a saturated market. Case in point is Armstrong, which is looking to leverage its Diamond 10 technology to create brand awareness with consumers. “We’re pushing our Diamond 10 technology, which is a differentiating factor,  to bring consumers into retailers’ stores,” said Morgan Hafer, product manager for Alterna. “It’s being used in shows on HGTV and throughout social media to [drive] brand awareness.”

EarthWerks is also using its branding to make it easier for retailers to distinguish between different sizes of products. The company showed Noble Classic Plus and Plus XL as well as Parkhill and Plus XXL. Plus XL and Plus XXL represent thicker, longer versions of their respective lines.

“At EarthWerks we say style, availability and service you can trust,” said Lindsey Nisbet, strategic marketing and product development. “Our style is getting better every year; with respect to service, we have some of the best distribution.”

Quick-Step and IVC are also making it easier to identify their resilient products. Quick-Step has updated the products it sells to focus less on the product lines and more on its attributes. The company is now using the term “EnduraTEK” for its resilient products. “We consider resilient as the entry into hard surface,” said Jason Sims, senior brand manager, Mohawk Industries. “All of our flexible product is called EnduraTEK. As you trade up, the rigid offerings are called EnduraTEK Ultra.”

Quick-Step is doing its best to provide distributors with better and best offerings within the resilient category. “What we’re featuring this year is the ability for them to trade up within the category from flexible to rigid,” Sims said. “We are also offering for the first time flexible LVT tile that has a hidden grout line. You can mix them and it quickly installs. These are all available on one display as well.”

IVC is updating its brand to reflect the resilient category. The company showed its new Artera and Millright lines, both sheet vinyl, as well as Urbanne, its new flexible tiles. Sims explained that the word “resilient” not only describes the category, but also highlights what the segment can ultimately provide consumers. “We have positioned our brand as uncompromised design for life. We bring a different design element to everything we do.”

While some companies are promoting various product names to drive brand recognition, others are looking to better leverage their own corporate identities. DuChâteau, primarily known for its innovations in hardwood for flooring and wall applications, has expanded its reach to include luxury vinyl plank products. “We conducted extensive research with designers, architects, contractors and homeowners to see where they wanted to go with more luxurious and distinctive flooring designs,” said Misael Tagle, CEO and co-founder of DuChâteau. “The craftsmanship and fashion-forward designs of our new collections meet their needs.”

The manufacturer’s new Atelier Series’ Sovereign edition features the sought-after signature aesthetic of European-style exclusive designs in a glue-down vinyl plank. Then there’s the Vinyl Deluxe Grand collection with LuxCor technology, followed by the Vinyl Deluxe Classic collection. Rounding out the offering is the American Guild collection, which features classic colors and a contemporary American design aesthetic with the realistic look and feel of wood and stone.

Congoleum is looking to take branding a step further with the creation of CLEO Home—a separate, standalone brand that features healthy and environmentally conscious flooring. According to Kurt Denman, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of sales, CLEO Home is intended to help consumers who might be struggling with design confidence.

“We wanted to create something from a designer standpoint that really appealed to the consumer. We have great brand recognition with Congoleum, with our legacy products. This new foray into the marketplace is a great way to connect with the next generation.”

CLEO breaks down into three different layers. The base is 85% limestone and the other 15% is a binder that is not made with PVC. The top layer is digital imaging with a high-performance coating. “When you get rid of PVC you get rid of plasticizers, phthalates and all the things that are perceived as negative words in the industry,” Denman explained. (Incidentally, Congoleum was honored for a Best of Surfaces award in sustainability for CLEO Home.) “This product is 100% manufactured in the U.S., so we’re not relying on print films shipped from China.”

A compelling story
Manufacturers are not only developing unique product stories to help differentiate offerings, they are ultimately providing retailers with product education and strong brands. Mohawk, for example, has updated its campaign for SolidTech to play up the product’s resistance to hurricanes. As Duke explained: “We have a good story from a builder in Dallas who put SolidTech in one of his model homes; after the hurricane hit the dealer was able to salvage the floor in the model home, clean it up and reinstall it without any problems.”

Armstrong has developed its own story for its Alterna plank product—an engineered tile now available in a 6 x 36 plank format. “We call it Alterna because it is an alternative to ceramic and tile,” Hafer explained. “The story behind engineered tile is its more durable and comfortable to live on and easier to install than real tile. Alterna plank also features our Diamond 10 technology.”

Product story is also key to Beauflor’s new introductions, Blacktex and Boardwalk. The former is a roll product that can also be merchandised with boards and marketed as either a sheet vinyl or LVT product. The textile backing provides users with some of the benefits and features of LVT. Meanwhile, Boardwalk is a rigid click, loose-lay product with an attached pad.

“Our Blacktex sheet product is really the original waterproof product,” said Johnny Barnes, general manager. “If you look at the top layer, you can achieve some of the visuals with this line that you can’t necessarily achieve with the WPC products.”

Boardwalk, initially available in 14 SKUs, is equally rich in terms of aesthetics. “We have several dimensions and three SKUs that are random width,” said Nick Brown, vice president of sales North America. “There are all these different products within the collection, but they’re all at the same price point.”

Raskin Industries’ Ceramix, the company’s built-in-grout, loose-lay LVT, has its own story—one built on ease of installation. According to the manufacturer, the offering allows retailers to sell a grouted tile look without the headache of a typical tile installation. What’s more, Ceramix, which made its official debut at Surfaces 2017, earned a Best of Surfaces award for innovation at this year’s event.

Michael Raskin, founder and president, said the realistic look of the grout is a difference maker. “You can’t tell it is not ceramic, and with labor as a big issue in the market—the labor is sometimes two to three times more than the product—this can be put in with a perimeter install. It’s also warmer, slip resistant and doesn’t shatter.”

Novalis continues to push its environmentally friendly products with the development of Serenbe, a SPC product boasting high-density core technology, NovaShield coating and an attached pad. “Serenbe is ultra-realistic,” said Steven Erlich, vice president of sales and marketing. “There are ceramic planks and herringbone patterns to name a few. In addition, all of our products are pressed with a rolled edge, or groutable edge.”

Nox U.S. highlighted its new Genesis technology at Surfaces. The new line, the company said, creates a bridge between WPC and SPC products. ““WPC is growing for everyone but there are challenges with indentation and brittleness,” said Eric Erickson, senior vice president sales and marketing North America. “Also, everyone is chasing SPC but it’s really heavy and stiff. What we’ve been able to do is develop new technology in our core so that it is a little less dense and as you move up layers it becomes denser like a rigid product. This is an 8mm product and it feels the same weight of WPC but has the performance of rigid.”

Mills flood the arena
Engineered Floors, previously a carpet-only company, officially debuted Revotec, a high-density, rigid-core floating floor featuring tile visuals with a realistic grout line embedded; and Triumph, a click floating floor that employs high-density core technology for improved dimensional stability and better indentation resistance. “Our plan is to be a player in this segment,” said Brandon Kersey, brand manager for Main Street commercial and hard surface. “We are transitioning to the new version of rigid core, and we think Revotec can take us to another level.”

The acquisition of Beaulieu’s assets helped EF enter hard surfaces since the former company was already in the WPC space. Ana Torrence, product manager, hard surfaces for EF, said Revotec looks like real grouted tile. She cited other advantages: “It’s a really fast install. It is a better alternative than stone or ceramic in terms of installation time.”

A year after entering the LVT category, Phenix Flooring is doubling its assortment of PetProtect LVT, rigid core, click and loose lay offerings. In 2018, Phenix will market two display fixtures that blend hard and soft surfaces. The fixtures were consolidated into smaller footprints to provide design flexibility and allow every SKU to be merchandised differently. “We’re a year into hard surfaces, and I can tell you we are committed to it,” said Mark Clayton, president and CEO.

Marquis Industries made its mark 10 years ago as a mid-sized mill that ventured into LVT.  The company did not enter the category for the sake of it; its executives traveled the globe extensively to source the right raw materials and ensure quality control was followed along the way. “When you spend half a million bucks on an opening order you better be right,” said Larry Heckman, CEO. “If you don’t anticipate it correctly, you can be out of stock three to four months and you never get caught up. We took it seriously.”

Marquis’ 2018 offerings include two 5-foot-long x 9-inch wide rigid core lines—Whispering Pines and Biltmore Classic—with a 20-mil wear layer. The Dalton-based company opened a new building in Georgia devoted entirely to hard surfaces. It also has an existing West Coast distribution center to service customers. The mill still maintains a two-thirds to one-thirds split in favor of carpet.

The Dixie Group began as a yarn company that transitioned into a carpet manufacturer that is transforming into an all-surface supplier—all the while doing it in a way that best represents the Dixie, Masland and Fabrica brands. In 2017, Dixie was one of two companies (Phenix was the other) licensed to sell Stainmaster PetProtect LVT products. The launch exceeded expectations and now Dixie and Masland are coming out with eight new styles each for high performance core, including wood planks with a painted beveled edge.

“A lot of our good customers were moving with the market into hard surface categories like luxury vinyl and we felt like we had an opportunity to enter that market and could be relevant,” said T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division, the Dixie Group. “We tried to take the right approach from a distribution standpoint to create a profit opportunity for our partners.”

Southwind is another traditional carpet company that made the leap when LVT got hot. The company unveiled Authentic Tile, an SPC core product that has the feel of ceramic tile along with the heft (each 8-piece carton weighs 40 lbs). “It has been very well received at the show,” said Tim Gilmore, Southeast regional vice president. “Several big dealers are taking it on.”

Wellmade Flooring is pushing its Opti-Wood Flooring line with Hydri-HDPC technology and the PowerShield moisture protection system, which company officials say is the difference maker. Wellmade showed 16 SKUs in poplar, eucalyptus, hickory, oak and bamboo. Steve Wagner, director of sales and marketing, does not believe the LVT/WPC/ SPC market is saturated just yet. “I think there is a home for everybody who can come to market with different formulas.”

 

COREtec Stone: The next big thing?

By Ken Ryan

Piet Dossche knows a winner when he creates one. Five years ago, despite serious doubts from some well-respected retail executives, the USFloors’ founder and president launched COREtec and predicted success. He got it—in spades, helping to launch a category that has surpassed $1 billion in sales.

“People said it wasn’t going to work,” he recalled of COREtec. “I was saying, ‘Good, keep thinking like that.’” COREtec was a runaway hit and helped launch the breakout success of the LVT sub-segment.

Dossche has similar expectations for COREtec Stone, which the company showed at Surfaces 2018 as an alternative to ceramic and porcelain tile. The product—a composite/SPC engineered tile—is expected to be ready for market in the second half of 2018. “This is going to be huge,” Dossche said. “It is going to bring solutions to the ceramic tile category.”

Ceramic tile is a growing business, but it has issues. For starters, ceramic tile is heavy and may not be appropriate for certain installations; it is cold and can crack or break easily; it is a time-consuming installation process, and it is also an expensive installation with special tools needed, critics say. Sometimes the cost of the installation is more than the materials. It is also messy and expensive to remove ceramic or porcelain tile.

Enter COREtec Stone, which is lighter, warmer, cheaper and easier to install with no grout needed, easier to remove and more comfortable to walk on because of its attached cork backing. Plus, it doesn’t break.

Dossche, who believes this segment could grow to be a $500 million business in a few years, is optimistic. “If you bring to market a good-looking product that solves issues you have a winner. Composite weatherproof flooring will be the high double-digit growth engine in hard surfaces for the next five years.”

 

 

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Surfaces Wood Coverage: New finishes, formats steal the show in Vegas

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Reginald Tucker

 

Hardwood flooring suppliers across the industry are combining creativity and technology as they seek to develop the next generation of products that will compete against the likes of WPC, LVT and rigid core floors.

Case in point is the staining technology employed by Hearthwood in the manufacture of its Controlled Chaos and Dynamic Earth lines. Designed to mimic a process known as reactive staining—whereby chemicals are used to manipulate the visual appearance of a hardwood floor—the technology Hearthwood employs is able to produce more consistent results. As Allie Finkell, executive vice president, explains: “Some of the chemical reactive staining processes are really hard to control, making it difficult to be consistent across production over time and from run to run. But we’ve been able to recreate the highlights of those chemicals utilizing a regular water-based UV-cured stain, which is done in our Tennessee plant with low-emitting finishes.”

Controlled Chaos features a light wirebrushed finish on white oak for a more contemporary look in a 7-inch-wide x 8-foot-long format in colors ranging from, in Finkell’s words, “shocking to subtle.” Meanwhile, Dynamic Earth, which is also in a sliced white oak product, has more of a reclaimed, scraped texture. “Our handscraping technique is not the old, machine-scraped process that’s common in the industry,” Finkell explained. “Our process delivers more of that reclaimed barnwood look. This way the customer gets a modern format in long lengths and wide widths, but she can still pick a timeless color so she’s not going to get sick of looking at the color.”

The latest offerings from Provenza also represent a play on color and texture. Several new additions are being added to the Lighthouse Cove line, which is part of the award-winning Colour Nation collection, which took home a Best of Surfaces award in 2017.  “We are bringing in white oak product from Europe in a format and range that appeals to all levels of consumers,” said Ron Sadri, principal owner.

Also new from Provenza is the Dutch Masters collection—a portfolio of unfinished European species that are stained at the company’s facilities in the U.S. “Dutch Masters falls under our custom collection category, which is exclusive to us,” Sadri said. “These products provide better margins for dealers; it’s not going to be in every store and it’s very exclusive.”

Other European-inspired lines come courtesy of The Dixie Group, which showcased its first hardwood line, Fabrica Fine Wood Flooring. The Fabrica collection will feature 70 SKUs—40 for the floor and 30 companion SKUs for wall covering. The line will include French oak, maple and birch—with a style and quality consistent with the Fabrica brand promise, said T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division of The Dixie Group. Each flooring panel features the letter ‘f’ for branding purposes. “We are sourcing the product both domestically and in Canada and Europe to create the assortment,” Nuckols said.

The Fabrica wood line will be launched initially in the Southeast U.S., and will be priced at the upper end of the market. “We are restricting distribution—not everyone is going to have it,” said Dan Phelan, vice president of marketing, residential division, The Dixie Group. Those that do get the line will primarily be high-design retail flooring stores. “We feel the wood line fits for Fabrica because it is consistent with the high-end quality of Fabrica’s name.”

HF Design is also playing the quality card, but with a twist—making its floors more accessible to mainstream consumers. To that end, the company took the wraps off two new collections: Pacific Point, a 7⁄16, 3⁄8-inch, 6-inch wide product that’s thermotreated and topped with a  urethane finish, and Brentwood Hills, which is a step up 5⁄8 platform, 7 inch wide.

High-end looks at an affordable price was also the inspiration for the latest offerings from USFloors. While its name may be associated with the wildly successful launch of the COREtec brands, USFloors wants retailers to know it is a bona fide player in the hardwood sector as well. To that end, the company is unveiling a total of 56 SKUs across various collections and formats.

“Our biggest launch right now is our Natural Woods line, where we took some of our best-selling products in the Castle Combe oil finished lines an put an acrylic finish on them,” said Jamann Stepp, director of marketing and product management. “You still have that oil finished look without all that gloss in there.”

EarthWerks, historically known for its LVT offerings, is also looking to make some noise in the hardwood arena. The strategy, according to Brenda Cashion, who heads up hardwood product development and marketing, is twofold: Expand EarthWerk’s wood program beyond Texas into other markets around the country, while positioning the Pinnacle brand as an upper-end “designer” offering.

“The EarthWerks hardwood brand has always been in our distribution footprint paired with the LVT teams,” she explained. “Now we are taking a select group of products nationally. We had to reengineer and redevelop those products to give them a broader appeal nationally.”

Whereas EarthWerks wood is being positioned as the “meat and potatoes line,” Cashion said, the Pinnacle offering will be positioned as a high-style designer driven. Standouts include Country Estate, which features a natural, almost unfinished, matte look, and Grand Reserve, which is a hefty 4mm dry-sawn face with a suggested retail price point of $5.99 per square foot.

Over at the Satin Flooring space, the company put the focus on red and white oak species in a 7-inch-wide format, mostly engineered. “We’ve been happy with the feedback,” said Dennis Mohn, director of marketing. He cited interest from top distributors such as NRF and Galleher “We also sell some unfinished solid products to certain markets such as Chicago.”

New formats are also coming out of the Preverco camp. The company is putting the spotlight on Max 19, a ¾-inch thick engineered product featuring a 4mm top wearlayer on a ½-inch-thick vertical quartersawn softwood core, backed with a 2mm bottom panel for balance. Right below that is a 5⁄8-inch thick engineered product featuring a 2mm top layer on a 9⁄16-inch five-layer construction. range of budgets.

Wading into water
SEM Group showcased Aquawood, the company’s waterproof hardwood line. The product is patent pending in 14 countries and features real hardwood on a waterproof core. “Not only is it waterproof, but it’s also great in extreme climates,” said Nathan Carter, product sales/development and hardwood specialist. “We have two versions available: Elegant Traditions is our 7½- inch wide 3⁄8 product and we just launched Carson—our 5⁄16 overall with a click and pad attached.”

Both versions are fully submersible in water and can be maintained just like tradition hardwood floor. What’s more, the products contain zero repeats.

In that same vein, Uniboard offers Aqua Allira, a waterproof engineered wood flooring made of a rigid core and a real veneer overlay. According to Daniel Seguin, product development manager, it marks the next generation of Allira engineered flooring, which produced by transforming 100% reclaimed pre-consumer wood fibers into a coreboard. Allira products use specially-formulated HDF panels that offer greater resistance than a plywood core, he noted.

Focus on green
Suppliers are also leveraging wood’s environmental story. For instance, Lifecore has developed a unique selling story to help retailers increase margins. Lifecore created Ai.r with no added formaldehyde to its adhesive, According to Jim Fiore, vice president North America, Samling Global USA, the product is 70% below the current CARB 2 regulations. “We’ve also been awarded the Indoor Air Quality Certification which is unique and we’re proud of that. Our focus when we were launching this line was giving the retailer something that would be of value to them and have a story behind it. With this line, it’s all about not having to compromise.”