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Latest bamboo, cork intros stir visual interest

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Touting qualities such as durability, comfort underfoot and water resistance, cork and bamboo products provide the industry with eco-friendly flooring suitable for both residential and commercial applications.

Following is an overview of some of the newest cork and bamboo innovations that promise to captivate consumers not only with updated visuals, but also with reasonable price points.

Bamboo Hardwoods

Bamboo Hardwoods’ new Symphony line features a hybrid of rigid core with a natural strand woven bamboo wear layer. The line combines the natural beauty of authentic bamboo floors with a waterproof rigid core allowing for installations in even the most undesirable locations.

Symphony is available in 72 x 51⁄8 x 9⁄32 planks and features a four-sided Uniclic locking system. Its 1.2mm strand woven bamboo veneer is wire brushed and stained. Symphony will be available in June in two colors: anise and currant.

Torlys

CorkWood brings together the look of wood, the durability of laminate and the comfort of cork. It comes in two collections: CorkWood Designer, which features 6-foot planks in nine colors, and CorkWood Elite, available in planks spanning nearly 4-feet long and five colors. CorkWood is engineered with a HDF smart core for dent resistance and a 3mm (Designer) or 2.5mm (Elite) thick top layer of compressed cork. It also includes the Torlys CorkPlus attached underlayment for added warmth and sound insulation.


WE Cork

WE Cork’s Corkoleum is a 3mm rolled cork flooring with a rubber and cork base and a cork veneer. Ideal for glue-down applications, Corkoleum is a very low, thin product. Made up of mainly cork, the flooring is marketed as being quiet, comfortable, warm and water resistant. Corkoleum is ideal for wet areas in both residential and commercial settings.

Also from WE Cork is a line of wall panels available for both residential and commercial applications. Available in two different visuals—brick, which comes in three different colors, and bark—WE Cork’s line of wall panels can be used for decorative purposes as well as a sound insulator.

Wellmade

Wellmade unveils a variety of new bamboo looks as part of its Opti-Wood flooring collection. Opti-Wood couples the performance virtues of rigid core flooring technology with real bamboo or hardwood wear layer veneers. The product features Wellmade’s Hydri-HDPC technology, a moisture protection system that seals out topical moisture and boasts a 100% waterproof HDPC core.

Wellmade’s new bamboo flooring is just over 5 inches wide, 48-plus inches long and 8.5mm thick, and features the Uniclic locking system. Colors range from traditional carbonized to multi-color and character-driven glazing options.

Cali Bamboo

Cali Bamboo has launched GeoWood, an engineered hardwood floor combining real timber layered over GeoCore—Cali’s stabilizing limestone composite foundation. The design layer atop each GeoWood plank is up to 1.2mm thick and features sustainably farmed bamboo and lumber from Lacey Act-compliant managed forests.

Made with AquaDefy technology, GeoWood boasts proven moisture protection, making it ideal for bathrooms, kitchens and below-grade spaces such as basements. Shielded by a 10-coat scratch resistant finish, GeoWood is ideal for spaces with heavy traffic, large dogs and the wear and tear of everyday life.

USFloors

USFloors’ current Cork Canvas collection is a digitally enhanced cork floor that features travertine decors. Digitally enhanced cork floors provide the beauty, depth and texture consumers expect in a natural stone or hardwood floor while maintaining the advantages of cork.

This flooring uses digital print technology to capture the colors, nuances, grains and textures of real stone and hardwood. These visuals are printed directly on a cork top layer, which is applied to an HDF core. A durable, embossed hot coat finish is applied to the cork top layer, while additional cork is added as an attached underlayment.

Wicanders

Wicanders Cork GO is a budget-friendly floating floor made with the company’s cork double layer. The collection comes in 10 cork visuals and contains all the signature Corktech benefits found in Wicanders’ products. Cork GO acts as a noise buffer between the floor and the rooms underneath and reduces walking sound up to 53%. The floor also acts as natural thermal insulation.

Cork GO provides a unique comfort in movement, even when walking barefoot. It also has a longer life span due to its elasticity, compressibility and ability to absorb high shocks

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Resilient: Rigid core continues to set new standards

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

Even seasoned flooring executives are stunned at the growth of the rigid core subsegment that burst onto the scene less than two years ago and has morphed into a super cell of flooring.

Jimmy Tuley, vice president, residential resilient business, Mannington, just returned from Domotex Asia where he saw scores of new entries. “We saw combinations of wood on rigid core; some with mineral core to give it different properties... there is a lot of innovation happening. The pace of change right now is just amazing, unbelievable really.”

Jeff Francis, resilient category manager, Shaw Industries, and a 14-year industry veteran, added, “The rate of change in resilient rigid core is so significant it is challenging just to stay ahead of the pace. Based on the velocity of growth, I don’t see it receding at all.”

Francis said he sees rigid core continuing to take market share from soft surface as well as hard surface—laminate, wood and even glue-down LVT. “We see growth accelerating, and in the next 12-24 months, even as fast as the innovation is coming, we see more of it.”

David Sheehan, senior vice president, product management, Mohawk resilient, said he has been “astounded” by the growth of rigid vinyl. “It is definitely a product that has become the darling of the industry. Just as LVT in general was the go-to product for RSAs and dealers, rigid has become that go-to product.”

Rigid core, or SPC (solid polymer core), is made of a composite core construction, a step up from solid LVT, with a higher filler content and higher density without any foaming agent creating air bubbles in the core. The result is a thinner, harder and stiffer plank. Rigid core products are primarily suitable where higher indentation resistance is required and extensive exposure to sunlight/heat can occur.

This broad definition does not stop flooring companies from putting their own marketing spin on their iterations.

Following is a look at some of the newest offerings in rigid core flooring.


Armstrong
Rigid Core Vantage from Armstrong Flooring includes such features as registered embossing in elongated 9 x 60 and 7 x 60 planks and accentuated painted bevels. The line comes with a commercial-specified 20-mil wear layer and urethane coating, and is noted for its dent resistance thanks to a solid polymer core. Vantage is supported by a premium natural cork underlayment for reduced sound transmission. Armstrong said installing Rigid Core Vantage has been made easier with a new drop-lock system. It has been tested for use in fully enclosed three-season rooms where the expected post-installation temperature range falls between 32°F and 100°F. Rigid Core Vantage will be available to retailers in June.

CFL/FirmFit
FirmFit XXL boasts long and wide planks featuring synchronized embossed-in-register technology. “FirmFit was one of the first to launch long and wide rigid core planks that feature an extremely realistic embossed and register synchronized texture in a large way,” said Thomas Baert, CFL president. “The rigid core category is moving forward extremely fast and improving style and designs, which is bringing the category closer to real wood looks and textures. FirmFit XXL is the next step.”

FirmFit XXL, which will be in stores early summer, is backed by warranties on performance on massive installation surfaces without use of transition moldings. It is dent resistant and sun proof.

Congoleum
Triversa’s triple-layer construction delivers exceptional durability with a 20-mil wear layer, stability through a waterproof rigid core and versatility with cork backing for sound mitigation. A SmartLock clic system allows for easy floating installations. Triversa ID offers extensive design options, including mixed-width woods, longer planks, enhanced edge treatments and tile visuals.

Dixie Group
Dixie is one of the newest entrants into the rigid core space but is determined to make a lasting impression, according to Dan Phelan, vice president of marketing and hard surfaces. For 2018, the Dixie Home and Masland brands are coming out with 16 new offerings, all Stainmaster PetProtect with action traction. “We are filling in some gaps in colorations,” Phelan said. “We have fashion-forward colors in gray and taupe, and we are now adding heavier distressed looks.” New size options in Dixie Home (7 x 60) and Masland (5 x 60) are in addition to a 9 x 60 offered by both. Masland’s Big Sky line offers a 28-mil wear layer.

What’s different here is the company’s path to market is through limited retail distribution. As Phelan explained, “Do you want to enter the market for the sake of entering, or do you want to enter with something special? Stainmaster adds to our position in the marketplace. It’s working for us, and our limited distribution model is very powerful. We’re off to a really good start.”

EarthWerks
Noble Classic Plus SPC from EarthWerks boasts an array of high-dimension oak patterns with EIR. The assortment comes in 8 x 48 planks as well as a 9.5 x 60 tile for an even more dramatic appearance—each with cushion backing.

For customers looking for a glue-down application, these same designs and sizes are also available in a 3mm x 20 mil dry back version called Wood Classic II.

Inhaus
Sono is Inhaus’ latest innovation in waterproof dimensionally stable flooring. The German-made product comes with proprietary technology and features high-definition digital printing. The printing process enables vastly improved color variations and a 5% plank repeat, the company said, resulting in a uniquely appealing installation. The core is highly resistant to heat and cold, is waterproof and has an angle fold locking system for ease of installation. The patented ceramic composite core is free of PVCs, formaldehyde and all other additives.

IVC
Urbane, which will be launched in the second quarter through distribution, will be part of IVC’s rebranded Waterproof Solutions display, which replaces Moduleo. Sheehan explained the company is trying to communicate the inherent waterproof nature of the offerings with the three-product display that also includes Horizon and Embellish. Described as a classic flexible offering, Horizon is a 20 mil, 4.5mm construction available in click and glue down. The trade up is Embellish, a flexible LVT that Sheehan called a very significant offering. “We’re not labeling the products, we’re creating a good/better/best trade-up story,” he said.

Urbane is a rigid offering that IVC expects will drive a lot of traffic and enthusiasm. Glass is used to make the product more dimensionally stable. All three products are suitable for three-season rooms capable of handling extreme temperatures.

Mannington
Tuley said he sees the WPC and SPC segments “splitting” as new technologies emerge to create separation. AduraMax Prime is an SPC targeted at the builder/multifamily segment. AduraMax Apex offers a long and wide plank and is embossed with a painted bevel. Mannington also plans to launch Adura Rigid, an SPC with pad attached. “For the most part, these products are variations or improvements on LVT to solve very particular problems,” Tuley said.

Marquis
Marquis’ newest rigid core product offering, Geneva, provides a print with great color movement and depth. Featuring multi-width look patterns representing a new urban twist to a rustic look, Geneva comes in a 7 x 48 board with a 4mm SPC core and 20 mil ceramic bead wear layer finished with a 1.5mm closed-cell IXPE attached cushion.

Metroflor
Engage Inception, Metroflor’s new SPC product, expands the company’s portfolio of LVT flooring solutions that address all relevant categories—glue down and a variety of floating platforms such as Grip-Strip (Konecto), Solid Vinyl Clic (Engage), WPC (Engage Genesis) and now SPC (Engage Inception).

The new Engage Inception line is intended to serve as an entry-level, SPC product suitable for multifamily, residential and commercial environments dependent on the wear layer chosen. It is stiffer and denser than WPC, offering favorable dimensional stability characteristics, thereby enabling greater resistance to temperature changes and indentations. Beyond improved dent resistance, the premium attached high-density polyethylene foam underlayment provides sound absorption, reduces transmitted sound and foot fatigue and helps to conceal subfloor imperfections.

Mohawk
2018 promises to be a big year for Mohawk in the area of rigid core. Starting with SolidTech, its flagship line with less than one full year in the market, Mohawk is readying a slew of new rigid offerings from its U.S. production facility that will be a fully integrated rigid core plant. “Customers are getting in line for this,” Sheehan said. “Mohawk has invested a huge amount of capital toward this category. We feel we have the right products and are positioned well in each of our channels.”

Due out soon is True Design, a collection of neat visuals with features such as EIR, painted bevels and longer planks. Within the collection, Blended Tones boasts a 22-mil wear layer with a painted bevel. “The reason we do embossed in register is not to prove to the market that we can do it, but to make the product look real,” Sheehan explained. “We feel we have done that with the True Design collection.”

Both the second and third quarters will be active for Mohawk as it aggressively expands its rigid portfolio. As Sheehan explained, “If rigid is the fastest growing segment, the only way to keep pace and grow your market share is to aggressively invest in your category. We are going to aggressively expand our offering and grab market share with the right product along with the right visuals and price points.”

Karndean
Korlok Select, the company’s rigid core line, took two years to develop but was worth the wait, according to Emil Mellow, director of public relations. “Everything we put in there is top end.”

Korlok’s rigid core line comes fully equipped with K-Core technology, a pre-attached acoustic underlayment, K-Guard+ surface protection, HoldFast 5G locking mechanism and warranty. Its 9 x 56 plank matches that of other suppliers. “We found that anything longer than that logistically doesn’t work for a couple of reasons,” Mellow stated. “The box size becomes too heavy and unwieldy to handle, the retail shelf bins are not big enough to accommodate the planks, and the installation becomes very difficult. You need two people and that defeats the whole purpose of easy assembly.”

While most companies, including Karndean, attach numerous bells and whistles to their rigid core products, occasionally they dial back the features to hit a desired price point. That was the case with the Reserve line, which comes out in May. It launches with a stacker option or waterfall display for dealers.

Novalis
Its newest rigid core product, Serenbe, is part of the NovaFloor line with high density core (HDC) technology. It has 24 styles in planks and tiles—including a new 12 x 36 tile. Serenbe also features Novalis’ newest advancement in protection, patent-pending NovaShield.

NovaFloor HDC is an extruded solid vinyl that provides all the popular attributes of rigid core: waterproof, dent resistance and ease of installation over common subfloor imperfections. “We equipped it with an attached foam underlayment as a sound barrier and added comfort underfoot,” said Steve Erlich, vice president of sales and marketing. “So, if you’re a dealer, you will want this product line on your retail floor. It’s the whole package.”

Phenix
Bold Statement from Phenix is a Stainmaster PetProtect SPC in seven colors, five planks and two tile options. Velocity is a 9 x 60 SPC rigid core that combines Corex technology with an EVA foam backing to eliminate additional underlayment. “Both products have some unique features and benefits,” said Chris Johnson, senior vice president of sales. “Our Bold Statement is [among] the only PetProtect SPCs on the market. It also has the Stainmaster PetProtect finish, so it provides superior scratch resistance and pet action traction.”

Velocity is a 22-mil product that is extra wide and long but is also available in a 12 x 24 tile. “We have worked hard to develop a rich and diverse color palette for both products, so just about any home can find something within Velocity that fits their space,” Johnson said.

Quick-Step
EnduraTek and EnduraTek Ultra, the company’s newest rigid core offerings, will be sold through distribution. These unique tile visuals are constructed of an internally routed grout line that renders the product incredibly real, according to the company. “It gives the visual appearance of a 12 x 24, when in fact it is a 12 x 48 plank.” EnduraTek Ultra is slated for the second quarter. “We have rigid flowing everywhere,” Sheehan said.

Raskin
Raskin Industries is promoting its eight-layer rigid construction in which each layer is engineered to provide more stability. “It’s the best of both worlds—waterproof rigid with no air or foam, and no adhesives since we fuse the layers as we use heat and pressure,” said Michael Raskin, president. “It’s critical to have multiple layers.”

A new product, Solid Gencore, is made from Raskin’s proprietary acrylic composite structure used as its core layer to provide maximum stability and impact resistance. “Acrylx has no foam or air, making it denser than a WPC-type multilayer product. We use advanced technology-grade resins that are used specifically to provide stability against heat and cold temperatures.”

New to the market is Acrylx Select, available in five colors. The line is meant to be price competitive with the added benefits of soundproof backing and anti-mildew. It is 100% waterproof as well. Lumination Velocity, another new offering, will have 10 colors in a 4mm with a 1mm Gcore backing. This collection will include registered embossing and will be showcased in a new display with large boards. The line consists of stone, multi-plank looks and 60-inch planks. “It’s hard to differentiate, so it’s important to sell the latest and best technology that will stand up to the hype,” Raskin said. “We feel our product construction and ability to design the colors and styles that sell will offer customers the right products.”

Shaw
Shaw Industries is another major mill that has invested heavily in the rigid core business primarily with Floorte.

Floorte Pro, a new tile rigid core product, launched with 20 SKUs. The waterproof, click product features a lacquer bevel. “There is a trend toward smaller grout lines, which we can do with this product,” Francis said. “The response has been great. This opens it up to mud rooms and bathrooms.”

Overall, Floorte Pro offers a diverse portfolio of visuals ranging from hardwood to tile looks. Mineral Mix, for example, strikes a balance between contemporary concrete and linear metal looks for a chic aesthetic. Each tile has visual grout applied for a quick installation that does not require traditional grout. Blue Ridge Pine is a rich heart pine visual that captures the contrast, character and uniqueness found in natural hardwood.

Tarkett
Tarkett’s new ProGen collection is the next generation of rigid core luxury vinyl flooring that provides superior impact and indentation resistance. The product also demonstrates superior durability over traditional WPC, according to the company.

ProGen’s unique compact core design makes installation easy by providing the flexibility to adjust to tight spaces, while maintaining enough rigidity to allow for installation over imperfect subfloors. This new collection has a 20-mil, commercial-grade wear layer and enhanced polyurethane layer that allow ProGen to resist scratches and the rigors of modern life. In addition, its high-density foam backing reduces unwanted noise.

USFloors
Piet Dossche, founder and CEO, said there were 65 Chinese manufacturers exhibiting rigid core products at Domotex Hannover in January, a testament to the incredible momentum of the subcategory. “This is not a fad, this is just the beginning,” he said at a recent symposium. “Composite waterproof flooring will be the high double-digit growth engine in hard surfaces for the next five years.”

To that end, USFloors is striving to keep its market-share-leading position among suppliers. The company launched COREtec Pro Plus in Q4 2017 and COREtec Pro Plus Enhanced in January. Both are of SPC construction. USFloors will introduce COREtec Stone in the summer with upwards of 40 SKUs. “Attention to detail and design is what makes Pro Plus and Pro Plus Enhanced stand out from the crowd,” said Jamann Stepp, director of marketing and product management. COREtec Pro collections include a double extrusion process with a 1mm cork attached pad. Pro Plus Enhanced also incorporates a four-sided enhanced beveled edge for added realism. As for the forthcoming COREtec Stone, attention to detail will again be key. “The decors, including the tech and spec data that is employed in the Pro Plus collections, along with a proprietary protective coating to prevent scratching and abrasion, will set COREtec Stone apart from the rest,” Stepp said. “We see COREtec Stone as tile reinvented.”

Wellmade
Wellmade continues to expand its Nouveax en vogue HDPC vinyl plank collection. The rigid core features Wellmade’s co-extrusion technology and includes standard and wide/long plank options. Wear layers are available in 8-, 12-, and 20-mil options. Wellmade has added new design options for 2018, including character-driven muted gray and brown tones with enhanced texturing on the hardwood side, and contemporary travertine looks in stone. “Dealers have pleased with our competitive pricing, ease of installation and superior overall performance,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing.

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Rigid core continues to set new standards

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

Even seasoned flooring executives are stunned at the growth of the rigid core subsegment that burst onto the scene less than two years ago and has morphed into a super cell of flooring.

Jimmy Tuley, vice president, residential resilient business, Mannington, just returned from Domotex Asia where he saw scores of new entries. “We saw combinations of wood on rigid core; some with mineral core to give it different properties… there is a lot of innovation happening. The pace of change right now is just amazing, unbelievable really.”

Jeff Francis, resilient category manager, Shaw Industries, and a 14-year industry veteran, added, “The rate of change in resilient rigid core is so significant it is challenging just to stay ahead of the pace. Based on the velocity of growth, I don’t see it receding at all.”

Francis said he sees rigid core continuing to take market share from soft surface as well as hard surface—laminate, wood and even glue-down LVT. “We see growth accelerating, and in the next 12-24 months, even as fast as the innovation is coming, we see more of it.”

David Sheehan, senior vice president, product management, Mohawk resilient, said he has been “astounded” by the growth of rigid vinyl. “It is definitely a product that has become the darling of the industry. Just as LVT in general was the go-to product for RSAs and dealers, rigid has become that go-to product.”

Rigid core, or SPC (solid polymer core), is made of a composite core construction, a step up from solid LVT, with a higher filler content and higher density without any foaming agent creating air bubbles in the core. The result is a thinner, harder and stiffer plank. Rigid core products are primarily suitable where higher indentation resistance is required and extensive exposure to sunlight/heat can occur.

This broad definition does not stop flooring companies from putting their own marketing spin on their iterations.

Following is a look at some of the newest offerings in rigid core flooring.

Armstrong

Rigid Core Vantage from Armstrong Flooring includes such features as registered embossing in elongated 9 x 60 and 7 x 60 planks and accentuated painted bevels. The line comes with a commercial-specified 20-mil wear layer and urethane coating, and is noted for its dent resistance thanks to a solid polymer core. Vantage is supported by a premium natural cork underlayment for reduced sound transmission. Armstrong said installing Rigid Core Vantage has been made easier with a new drop-lock system. It has been tested for use in fully enclosed three-season rooms where the expected post-installation temperature range falls between 32°F and 100°F. Rigid Core Vantage will be available to retailers in June.

CFL/FirmFit

FirmFit XXL boasts long and wide planks featuring synchronized embossed-in-register technology. “FirmFit was one of the first to launch long and wide rigid core planks that feature an extremely realistic embossed and register synchronized texture in a large way,” said Thomas Baert, CFL president. “The rigid core category is moving forward extremely fast and improving style and designs, which is bringing the category closer to real wood looks and textures. FirmFit XXL is the next step.”

FirmFit XXL, which will be in stores early summer, is backed by warranties on performance on massive installation surfaces without use of transition moldings. It is dent resistant and sun proof.

Congoleum

Triversa’s triple-layer construction delivers exceptional durability with a 20-mil wear layer, stability through a waterproof rigid core and versatility with cork backing for sound mitigation. A SmartLock clic system allows for easy floating installations. Triversa ID offers extensive design options, including mixed-width woods, longer planks, enhanced edge treatments and tile visuals.

Dixie Group

Dixie is one of the newest entrants into the rigid core space but is determined to make a lasting impression, according to Dan Phelan, vice president of marketing and hard surfaces. For 2018, the Dixie Home and Masland brands are coming out with 16 new offerings, all Stainmaster PetProtect with action traction. “We are filling in some gaps in colorations,” Phelan said. “We have fashion-forward colors in gray and taupe, and we are now adding heavier distressed looks.” New size options in Dixie Home (7 x 60) and Masland (5 x 60) are in addition to a 9 x 60 offered by both. Masland’s Big Sky line offers a 28-mil wear layer.

What’s different here is the company’s path to market is through limited retail distribution. As Phelan explained, “Do you want to enter the market for the sake of entering, or do you want to enter with something special? Stainmaster adds to our position in the marketplace. It’s working for us, and our limited distribution model is very powerful. We’re off to a really good start.”

EarthWerks

Noble Classic Plus SPC from EarthWerks boasts an array of high-dimension oak patterns with EIR. The assortment comes in 8 x 48 planks as well as a 9.5 x 60 tile for an even more dramatic appearance—each with cushion backing.

For customers looking for a glue-down application, these same designs and sizes are also available in a 3mm x 20 mil dry back version called Wood Classic II.

Inhaus

Sono is Inhaus’ latest innovation in waterproof dimensionally stable flooring. The German-made product comes with proprietary technology and features high-definition digital printing. The printing process enables vastly improved color variations and a 5% plank repeat, the company said, resulting in a uniquely appealing installation. The core is highly resistant to heat and cold, is waterproof and has an angle fold locking system for ease of installation. The patented ceramic composite core is free of PVCs, formaldehyde and all other additives.

IVC

Urbane, which will be launched in the second quarter through distribution, will be part of IVC’s rebranded Waterproof Solutions display, which replaces Moduleo. Sheehan explained the company is trying to communicate the inherent waterproof nature of the offerings with the three-product display that also includes Horizon and Embellish. Described as a classic flexible offering, Horizon is a 20 mil, 4.5mm construction available in click and glue down. The trade up is Embellish, a flexible LVT that Sheehan called a very significant offering. “We’re not labeling the products, we’re creating a good/better/best trade-up story,” he said.

Urbane is a rigid offering that IVC expects will drive a lot of traffic and enthusiasm. Glass is used to make the product more dimensionally stable. All three products are suitable for three-season rooms capable of handling extreme temperatures.

Mannington

Tuley said he sees the WPC and SPC segments “splitting” as new technologies emerge to create separation. AduraMax Prime is an SPC targeted at the builder/multifamily segment. AduraMax Apex offers a long and wide plank and is embossed with a painted bevel. Mannington also plans to launch Adura Rigid, an SPC with pad attached. “For the most part, these products are variations or improvements on LVT to solve very particular problems,” Tuley said.

Marquis

Marquis’ newest rigid core product offering, Geneva, provides a print with great color movement and depth. Featuring multi-width look patterns representing a new urban twist to a rustic look, Geneva comes in a 7 x 48 board with a 4mm SPC core and 20 mil ceramic bead wear layer finished with a 1.5mm closed-cell IXPE attached cushion.

Metroflor

Engage Inception, Metroflor’s new SPC product, expands the company’s portfolio of LVT flooring solutions that address all relevant categories—glue down and a variety of floating platforms such as Grip-Strip (Konecto), Solid Vinyl Clic (Engage), WPC (Engage Genesis) and now SPC (Engage Inception).

The new Engage Inception line is intended to serve as an entry-level, SPC product suitable for multifamily, residential and commercial environments dependent on the wear layer chosen. It is stiffer and denser than WPC, offering favorable dimensional stability characteristics, thereby enabling greater resistance to temperature changes and indentations. Beyond improved dent resistance, the premium attached high-density polyethylene foam underlayment provides sound absorption, reduces transmitted sound and foot fatigue and helps to conceal subfloor imperfections.

Mohawk

2018 promises to be a big year for Mohawk in the area of rigid core. Starting with SolidTech, its flagship line with less than one full year in the market, Mohawk is readying a slew of new rigid offerings from its U.S. production facility that will be a fully integrated rigid core plant. “Customers are getting in line for this,” Sheehan said. “Mohawk has invested a huge amount of capital toward this category. We feel we have the right products and are positioned well in each of our channels.”

Due out soon is True Design, a collection of neat visuals with features such as EIR, painted bevels and longer planks. Within the collection, Blended Tones boasts a 22-mil wear layer with a painted bevel. “The reason we do embossed in register is not to prove to the market that we can do it, but to make the product look real,” Sheehan explained. “We feel we have done that with the True Design collection.”

Both the second and third quarters will be active for Mohawk as it aggressively expands its rigid portfolio. As Sheehan explained, “If rigid is the fastest growing segment, the only way to keep pace and grow your market share is to aggressively invest in your category. We are going to aggressively expand our offering and grab market share with the right product along with the right visuals and price points.”

Karndean

Korlok Select, the company’s rigid core line, took two years to develop but was worth the wait, according to Emil Mellow, director of public relations. “Everything we put in there is top end.”

Korlok’s rigid core line comes fully equipped with K-Core technology, a pre-attached acoustic underlayment, K-Guard+ surface protection, HoldFast 5G locking mechanism and warranty. Its 9 x 56 plank matches that of other suppliers. “We found that anything longer than that logistically doesn’t work for a couple of reasons,” Mellow stated. “The box size becomes too heavy and unwieldy to handle, the retail shelf bins are not big enough to accommodate the planks, and the installation becomes very difficult. You need two people and that defeats the whole purpose of easy assembly.”

While most companies, including Karndean, attach numerous bells and whistles to their rigid core products, occasionally they dial back the features to hit a desired price point. That was the case with the Reserve line, which comes out in May. It launches with a stacker option or waterfall display for dealers.

Novalis

Its newest rigid core product, Serenbe, is part of the NovaFloor line with high density core (HDC) technology. It has 24 styles in planks and tiles—including a new 12 x 36 tile. Serenbe also features Novalis’ newest advancement in protection, patent-pending NovaShield.

NovaFloor HDC is an extruded solid vinyl that provides all the popular attributes of rigid core: waterproof, dent resistance and ease of installation over common subfloor imperfections. “We equipped it with an attached foam underlayment as a sound barrier and added comfort underfoot,” said Steve Erlich, vice president of sales and marketing. “So, if you’re a dealer, you will want this product line on your retail floor. It’s the whole package.”

Phenix

Bold Statement from Phenix is a Stainmaster PetProtect SPC in seven colors, five planks and two tile options. Velocity is a 9 x 60 SPC rigid core that combines Corex technology with an EVA foam backing to eliminate additional underlayment. “Both products have some unique features and benefits,” said Chris Johnson, senior vice president of sales. “Our Bold Statement is [among] the only PetProtect SPCs on the market. It also has the Stainmaster PetProtect finish, so it provides superior scratch resistance and pet action traction.”

Velocity is a 22-mil product that is extra wide and long but is also available in a 12 x 24 tile. “We have worked hard to develop a rich and diverse color palette for both products, so just about any home can find something within Velocity that fits their space,” Johnson said.

Quick-Step

EnduraTek and EnduraTek Ultra, the company’s newest rigid core offerings, will be sold through distribution. These unique tile visuals are constructed of an internally routed grout line that renders the product incredibly real, according to the company. “It gives the visual appearance of a 12 x 24, when in fact it is a 12 x 48 plank.” EnduraTek Ultra is slated for the second quarter. “We have rigid flowing everywhere,” Sheehan said.

Raskin

Raskin Industries is promoting its eight-layer rigid construction in which each layer is engineered to provide more stability. “It’s the best of both worlds—waterproof rigid with no air or foam, and no adhesives since we fuse the layers as we use heat and pressure,” said Michael Raskin, president. “It’s critical to have multiple layers.”

A new product, Solid Gencore, is made from Raskin’s proprietary acrylic composite structure used as its core layer to provide maximum stability and impact resistance. “Acrylx has no foam or air, making it denser than a WPC-type multilayer product. We use advanced technology-grade resins that are used specifically to provide stability against heat and cold temperatures.”

New to the market is Acrylx Select, available in five colors. The line is meant to be price competitive with the added benefits of soundproof backing and anti-mildew. It is 100% waterproof as well. Lumination Velocity, another new offering, will have 10 colors in a 4mm with a 1mm Gcore backing. This collection will include registered embossing and will be showcased in a new display with large boards. The line consists of stone, multi-plank looks and 60-inch planks. “It’s hard to differentiate, so it’s important to sell the latest and best technology that will stand up to the hype,” Raskin said. “We feel our product construction and ability to design the colors and styles that sell will offer customers the right products.”

Shaw

Shaw Industries is another major mill that has invested heavily in the rigid core business primarily with Floorte.

Floorte Pro, a new tile rigid core product, launched with 20 SKUs. The waterproof, click product features a lacquer bevel. “There is a trend toward smaller grout lines, which we can do with this product,” Francis said. “The response has been great. This opens it up to mud rooms and bathrooms.”

Overall, Floorte Pro offers a diverse portfolio of visuals ranging from hardwood to tile looks. Mineral Mix, for example, strikes a balance between contemporary concrete and linear metal looks for a chic aesthetic. Each tile has visual grout applied for a quick installation that does not require traditional grout. Blue Ridge Pine is a rich heart pine visual that captures the contrast, character and uniqueness found in natural hardwood.

Tarkett

Tarkett’s new ProGen collection is the next generation of rigid core luxury vinyl flooring that provides superior impact and indentation resistance. The product also demonstrates superior durability over traditional WPC, according to the company.

ProGen’s unique compact core design makes installation easy by providing the flexibility to adjust to tight spaces, while maintaining enough rigidity to allow for installation over imperfect subfloors. This new collection has a 20-mil, commercial-grade wear layer and enhanced polyurethane layer that allow ProGen to resist scratches and the rigors of modern life. In addition, its high-density foam backing reduces unwanted noise.

USFloors

Piet Dossche, founder and CEO, said there were 65 Chinese manufacturers exhibiting rigid core products at Domotex Hannover in January, a testament to the incredible momentum of the subcategory. “This is not a fad, this is just the beginning,” he said at a recent symposium. “Composite waterproof flooring will be the high double-digit growth engine in hard surfaces for the next five years.”

To that end, USFloors is striving to keep its market-share-leading position among suppliers. The company launched COREtec Pro Plus in Q4 2017 and COREtec Pro Plus Enhanced in January. Both are of SPC construction. USFloors will introduce COREtec Stone in the summer with upwards of 40 SKUs. “Attention to detail and design is what makes Pro Plus and Pro Plus Enhanced stand out from the crowd,” said Jamann Stepp, director of marketing and product management. COREtec Pro collections include a double extrusion process with a 1mm cork attached pad. Pro Plus Enhanced also incorporates a four-sided enhanced beveled edge for added realism. As for the forthcoming COREtec Stone, attention to detail will again be key. “The decors, including the tech and spec data that is employed in the Pro Plus collections, along with a proprietary protective coating to prevent scratching and abrasion, will set COREtec Stone apart from the rest,” Stepp said. “We see COREtec Stone as tile reinvented.”

Wellmade

Wellmade continues to expand its Nouveax en vogue HDPC vinyl plank collection. The rigid core features Wellmade’s co-extrusion technology and includes standard and wide/long plank options. Wear layers are available in 8-, 12-, and 20-mil options. Wellmade has added new design options for 2018, including character-driven muted gray and brown tones with enhanced texturing on the hardwood side, and contemporary travertine looks in stone. “Dealers have pleased with our competitive pricing, ease of installation and superior overall performance,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing.

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Bamboo, cork intros offer flair for the dramatic

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

By Ken Ryan

 

As sub-segments of the hardwood flooring category, cork and bamboo are heralded for their eco-friendly attributes. Beyond their notable green characteristics, however, new cork and bamboo products are also renowned for their stunning visuals, durability, comfort underfoot and water-resistant properties.

Following is an overview of some of the latest products cork and bamboo suppliers have to offer.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.16 AMBamboo Hardwoods
Bamboo Hardwoods’ Manor Clove flooring (pictured) features engineered strand woven bamboo with a multi-ply core. Strand woven bamboo ranks over 3000 on the Janka Hardness Scale and is a great option for both residential and commercial installations. Each plank of Manor Clove has a unique appearance due to its handscraping. The product is FloorScore certified.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.21 AMCali Bamboo (cork)
Cali Bamboo offers GreenClaimed cork flooring, which is comforting to the body and warm to the touch underfoot. Its visuals range from Shoreline (natural) to products made to resemble more natural wood looks (Silverwood and Driftwood). Pictured is Sandalwood, an engineered cork. A total of eight colors are available.

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.26 AMCali Bamboo (bamboo)
Cali Bamboo offers a complete line of solid and engineered bamboo offerings. Cali Bamboo is ultra-low VOC with no added urea formaldehyde and features the company’s proprietary Fossilized manufacturing process that boasts twice the density of typical hardwood flooring products. Twenty colors encompassing unfinished, distressed natural, to cognac and vintage java (pictured) are available.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.32 AMUSFloors (bamboo)
Muse Strand (pictured) from USFloors is the ideal strand bamboo floor for homes located in a wide range of climates. Muse Strand’s cutting-edge design features distressed and chiseled surfaces, hand sculpted scraping and wire-brushed enhanced grains. Fashion-forward stains and washes evoke a sense of artistry and inspiration. These bamboo floors are Greenguard Gold-certified for indoor air quality.

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.38 AMUSFloors (cork)
Natural Cork (pictured) floors from USFloors are made from the bark of the Portuguese cork oak. No trees are cut down to harvest the bark and cork trees produce new cork for re-harvest every nine years making cork a sustainable, environmentally friendly and rapidly renewable resource. Cork floors are quiet, warm and comfortable underfoot, durable and resilient. Natural Cork floors naturally resist mold and mildew, fire and pests.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.46 AMWE Cork
Sunset Acacia, from the Serenity collection of digital print on cork, provides comfort, thermal and sound insulation from the sustainable cork base. This cork base is then cloaked with wood or stone visuals that extend the design options beyond the regular cork visuals in the Serenity collection stocking line. It is finished using a hot coat finish with an AC rating that the company said exceeds LVT in wearability.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.51 AM

Wellmade
Wellmade’s Strata composite bamboo plank couples the performance features of rigid core HDPC (high-density plastic composite) technology with the natural warmth and character of eco-friendly bamboo. Featuring a solid strand bamboo top layer, Strata (pictured) bamboo outperforms traditional engineered flooring while remaining stable and extremely water resistant in the most demanding environments. Quality performance features include HDPC rigid core, HardMax nano finish and Uniclic floating installation system.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.58 AMWicanders
Wicanders’ Hydrocork offers a low thickness floating solution with the benefits of floors with Corktech, a technology that helped create the innovative core board made of composite cork. Hydrocork is water resistant and stable while maintaining the resilient properties and comfort rendered by cork. Wicanders’ Hydrocork comes in 10 wood look visuals, including Arcadian Rye Pine (pictured).

 

 

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Wellmade unveils ‘HDPC’ line

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Quality control, exacting standards drive Wellmade’s success

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

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 12.17.14 PMFor more than a decade, Wellmade Performance Flooring has burnished its credentials as a single-source manufacturer of high quality bamboo flooring, led by its strand woven collections.

Along the way Wellmade has earned the respect of distributors, contractors and independent flooring dealers for the quality control of its manufacturing process—from sourcing the finest raw material to precision milling, finishing, packaging and final delivery. Case in point: when raw material enters the factory, an inspector uses a moisture meter to ensure the raw material has arrived with the proper moisture content prior to actual kiln drying. Later in the process, a technician peers through a profile instrument that projects the actual Uniclic profile onto a screen to check that tolerances are calibrated to spec. Then, workers on the finishing line monitor planks for any obvious imperfections, including color shading and surface blemishes.

Wellmade’s belief is that attention to every manufacturing detail results in flooring that is easy to install and guaranteed to perform under the most demanding applications. And this quality control process has not gone unnoticed by Wellmade customers.

“The quality of product that Wellmade provides is such that I have never had a claim on its products,” said Matt Bechtold, vice president at Contract Furnishings Mart, Tigard, Ore., which carries Wellmade bamboo, LVT and some hardwood products. “Other companies’ bamboos have had major problems with extreme expansion and contraction in floating installations, but I have never had issues with Wellmade.”

An added advantage for Contract Furnishings Mart is that Wellmade is locally operated in Wilsonville, Ore.—five miles from Tigard—so its customers can go down to the warehouse and pick up material the same day if needed, Bechtold said.

Some customers appreciate the fact they can make a nice profit margin on Wellmade products, while others focus on the floors’ reliability.

“The look of the product and the fact our installers love it has made the difference,” said James Ivanditti, owner of Wakefield Flooring, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based flooring dealer. “We have not had any issues with Wellmade. We have carried its complete bamboo lines for more than two years; we can make a good profit on the products, and at the end of the day our customers are satisfied.”

Ivanditti said the urethane finish on Wellmade’s bamboo stands up better than other finishes. “There is a misconception that strand woven bamboo does not damage because it is so hard,” he explained. “But it can damage as the finish breaks down over time, which can lead to scratches. That has not been the case with the Wellmade product.”

Carl Hall, owner and president of Echo Interiors, an East Setauket, N.Y.-based commercial flooring contractor, has found Wellmade’s strand woven bamboo is more dimensionally stable than most other wood products. “These days wood companies are introducing so many new products so fast, and not all of them are dimensionally stable when they come out of the box. That has not been the situation with Wellmade.”

New developments

Known primarily for its bamboo offerings (traditional, solid or engineered strand woven), Wellmade is expanding its presence in the LVT and laminate categories, part of a strategy to expand and diversify its offerings and customer base beyond the sales channels already in place. The company hopes the category extensions will attract additional larger dealers.

“[The product expansions] are an obvious fit for us because we already have the sourcing connections, logistics and brand recognition in place to deliver premium products to our existing and prospective customers,” said Steve Wagner, director of sales and marketing. The company is currently offering full collections of premium 4mm LVT with Uniclic, as well as a 2mm glue down product. On the laminate front, it is offering AC3-rated 8mm and 12mm collections with general embossed in register and other embossed visuals. Finishes range from piano gloss to standard matte.

Product evolution

Wellmade entered the flooring industry more than a decade ago with traditional horizontal and vertical bamboo flooring. Later, the company entered the solid strand market. In response to market demand, Wellmade introduced engineered strand products designed to perform in all moisture conditions and sources Moso bamboo because of its density and stability. The floors use low-VOC resins and comply with the European E1 Standard for formaldehyde emissions.

Wellmade markets both tongue-and-groove and Uniclic floating profiles, and its commercially rated HardMax finish includes 13 coats of UV-cured aluminum oxide, almost twice the industry norm. The company’s bamboo floors come in a variety of colors and textures, from natural and carbonized to walnut and mahogany in smooth, hand scraped and distressed looks.

The manufacturer will continue to push R&D and product diversification to grow its business. In bamboo, its recent introduction of the Old Growth Series features reclaimed hardwood visuals applied directly to a bamboo core. And its Clear-Tec print technology is intended to provide hardwood realism. Wellmade is also introducing a full collection of bamboo parquet tiles designed to modularly integrate with its engineered strand collection.

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Bamboo: Strand-woven, wider planks, vibrant colors

Volume 27/Number 23; March 17/24, 2014

The bamboo flooring market is moving in unison to strand-woven, an engineering process intended to make floors harder and more durable while creating a visual that closely resembles hardwood.

Today’s bamboo companies are combining that strand-woven look with styles (wide planks and strips) and colors (pink sand to jet black) that have refreshed the segment and, in some markets, given flooring dealers a differentiated selling option.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.21.31 AMBamboo Hardwoods

David Keegan, COO, said that in response to market demands, Bamboo Hardwoods has responded with a variety of looks, including distressed, hand-scraped, hand-woven and French bleed.

“We’re always approaching [design] from what the market wants rather than us saying, ‘Hey, we think this is cool. Why don’t you sell it?’” Keegan said. “We are listening carefully to our dealers and then responding so this is not some crapshoot.”

Driftwood, featuring gray tones, and Tawny, with its warmer brown/nutmeg look, are popular within the company’s Arcade and Suite collections. These bamboo products are available with a wire-brushed look or French bleed on the edges.

In June, Bamboo Hardwoods will launch Chalet, a hand-scraped line with a strand-woven wearlayer and multilayer plywood core. “Customers on the East Coast, West Coast and South into Texas have been asking for these looks, colors and construction,” Keegan noted

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.21.51 AMECOBamboo

Developed and offered exclusively by Dasso, EcoBamboo uses an unfurled format to press the round bamboo canes flat instead of cutting them into strips for the traditional formats or shredding them for the strand-woven styles. The process leaves the natural outer skin on the face, which is the hardest part of bamboo; this becomes the floor’s natural finish. Products come in a range of widths, including 5-inch planks.

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.22.30 AMEcoFusion

ColorFusion African Safari, a strand-woven engineered plank, is 9⁄16-inch thick, 5 inches wide x 73 inches long. Targeted for residential settings, ColorFusion can be floated, glued or nailed down.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.22.55 AMTeragren

Moisture problems have at times plagued bamboo, but Teragren’s hot press manufacturing process—in which heat is applied consistently to all four sides of the bamboo—produces a dense, more stable product, the company explained.

In 2014, Teragren will introduce 13 new looks in its Visions and Vantage II lines, including eight colors and a new wire-brushed finish option on the Vantage II engineered platform.The products include a hard wax oil finish that recently came to the North American market after experiencing success in Europe.

Interestingly, one of Teragren’s current best-selling products has been around for 20 years. “Our traditional-style floors have seen a skyrocket in the flat-grain, caramelized color (FGC),” said Caitlyn Kari, marketing communications manager. “This is one of the colors that we launched at the very beginning, 20 years ago.”

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.23.15 AMUSFloors

As with other bamboo manufacturers, USFloors is following the strand-woven trend with its Muse Strand collection of eight plank SKUs in dimensions of 5 1⁄2 x 73 x 1⁄2 inch, and two strip-width products in a 2 1⁄2  x 73 x 1⁄2-inch format.

Muse is an engineered product constructed with an HDF core; as such, it is more dimensionally stable and is designed to handle extreme weather. “It is the all-climate floor,” said Gary Keeble, product and marketing manager. “It will resonate with dealers who like bamboo.”

Muse is further distinguished by its staining techniques and a soft sculpted wire-brush look that provides a more random visual than the typical machine-scraped product. Muse displays ship in late March.

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.23.34 AMWellmade

Strand-woven continues to drive Wellmade’s bamboo programs through all sales channels, with the company’s engineered strand collection the big seller. It features a seven-ply eucalyptus base and 4mm thick-sawn wearlayer, and is targeted for residential and commercial use. “Best of all, it can be used on any level of the project and performs in any climate, from humid to arid,” said Steve Wagner, director of sales and marketing.

Wellmade’s Old Growth Series features reclaimed visuals applied directly to a bamboo core, using the company’s high definition Clear-Tec bamboo imaging process.

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Wellmade earns FloorScore indoor air quality certification

WellmadePortland, Ore.—Wellmade Floor Coverings International has been awarded the FloorScore Indoor Air Quality Certification for a full-range of solid and engineered strand woven bamboo flooring, as well as traditional horizontal and vertical bamboo flooring. The certification was issued through SCS Global Services (SCS) and confirms an independent third-party assessment has been completed assessing the quality management of Wellmade’s Nanjing (Jiangsu Province, China) manufacturing facility and bamboo flooring emissions based on strict indoor air quality performance standards. Continue reading Wellmade earns FloorScore indoor air quality certification

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Wellmade bringing bamboo into mainstream

by Louis Iannaco

The rise in popularity of bamboo over the last several years is due, in part, to its sustainabile attributes. With the A&D community and the consumer placing so much emphasis on green, the flooring that was the epitome of environmentally friendly is finally reaping the benefits.

But after being considered a niche floor for decades, could it be more than its miniscule carbon footprint that is making bamboo so popular? One company that is leading the way by offering consumers more than just the traditional standard bamboo begs to differ. Continue reading Wellmade bringing bamboo into mainstream

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Latest looks in Bamboo

By Jenna Lippin

Volume 26/Number 22; March 18/25, 2013

In recent years, bamboo has become a prominent topic of discussion in the flooring industry. Thanks to technological advances, especially HD imaging, bamboo visuals have reached new levels of realism. With a variety of fresh styles and designs, bamboo players have released their most innovative offerings to date. Continue reading Latest looks in Bamboo