Some things get better with time, and visual technology in the resilient category is certainly one of those. Matured manufacturing processes and ink jet technology are producing looks that are as close to the real material as possible with visuals that begged the shopper to check for texture; patterns appeared to have the actual surface depth of quarried stone or handscraped wood. All of that, in addition to a value story that resounds with today’s buyer, made resilient a very popular category at Surfaces 2011.
Exhibiting in a ballroom off the show floor, the mill rolled out its first new resilient display in almost 15 years. “At Surfaces we had our new display to showcase product, first and foremost,” said Ed Sofia, product manager. “Retailer comments on that were exceptional, that we met needs in their marketplace needs from visual and structural standpoints.” He added the show pushed Armstrong over the 4,000 mark in terms of units sold.
At 14 feet in length, the display is broken into three separate sections. Dealers can buy it in parts or as a whole, but it was designed to be sustainable on the show floor and should last up to 10 years, much like its predecessor.
The display also coincides with a reinvention of its resilient program, focusing more on fiberglass, a construction that commanded 23% of the resilient sheet market share in 2010. Duality is Armstrong’s answer to that call in 83 SKUs. Premium grade comes in 80mil with a 20mil wearlayer, Cleansweep G finish, Masterworks 3D technology with Tough- Guard Flex. Premium Plus is 85mil featuring a 20mil wearlayer with the same features as the premium line plus antimicrobial protection. Installation methods include gluedown, loose lay or releasable adhesive.
The Long Island-based supplier expanded and updated its family of Toli homogenous vinyl tile with 21 new colors in FasolPlus (13), Linotesta (3) and Viale (5), said Chip Braulick, marketing director.
“The high-end Viale was the first oversized premium homogenous tile on the market and remains the standard for many healthcare, retail and education facilities,” said Jeff Collum, director of flooring for CBC.
In addition to the ease of installation due to the larger format, designers love that each product line has its own unique aesthetic. Viale has subtle pearlescent undertones, Linotesta boasts rich complementary accent grains reminiscent of faux linoleum and Fasol Plus offers bolder, monochromatic color lines. These product lines are designed to work together.
With FasolPlus’ 45 SKUs, Linotesta’s 25 SKUs and Viale’s 12 SKUs, there are a total of 82 colorways to choose from. All products have a sustainable story to tell, with 50% pre-consumer recycled content. Each product can contribute to LEED credits including Materials and Resources MR credit 4 for recycled content and Indoor Environmental Quality IEQ credit 4.1 for low-VOC emitting adhesives.
CBC is also partnering with Dr. Schutz floor finish, a 100% polyurethane with no acrylic or additive components. “The biggest feature is the flexibility. When you have high impact it can give without fracturing or cracking,” Braulick said. “As
such, it hermetically seals the surface for impenetrable but flexible finish and can be utilized on any hard surface.”
Dennis Jarosz, vice president of sales and marketing, was pleased with traffic in the company’s private showroom, attributing it to three of the industry’s largest resilient manufacturers setting up shop in close proximity to one another. DuraPlank II was the featured introduction. “DuraPlank has been around for years but the original lacked the look of real wood,” Jarosz said. The revised collection has better visuals, finish and glossing with Scotchgard silver antibacterial in the wearlayer. The 41⁄2 x 36 planks come in rustic maple, oak and hickory looks.
Duraplank II will be merchandized within the DuraCeramic collection. “Consumers who want a more customized look can use DuraCeramic II as a surrounding border or inset,” Jarosz said. “The key is we have a much better looking product.”
Returning to Surfaces after a six-year hiatus, Cryntel introduced three lines as well as a floating plank and LVT. Advantx is what the company called a step-up product. It features an enhanced wearlayer with aluminm oxide and an increased light to light/medium 10-year commercial warranty. Residentially, a lifetime, transferable warranty is available, meaning if the consumer sells her home the warranty transfers to the new homeowners. “We’ve had customers ask for higher specification products and that’s what this is without increasing cost,” said Baron Frith, vice president.
Advantx tiles come predominantly in stone looks in 6 x 6, 12 x 12, 12 x 24, 18 x 18 and 24 x 24 formats. “We’ve enhanced the color palette within the film to add more depth, and we get a lot of that color through embossing techniques,” Frith said. “That’s one of our advantages; these are all proprietary processes.”
The planks come in hickory, oak and maple visuals in 4 1⁄2 x 36, 6 x 36 and 6 x 48 sizes. “We’ve taken our time to come to market with this to make sure we have a unique product,” Frith said. “We don’t want to be a ‘me-to’ company.”
Linkwerks comes in two installation platforms: Rapid Clic features the Unilin locking system on a 5mil, 7 x 48 plank in 10 SKUs, while Firm Loc is a collection of 4mil, 6 x 36 planks in 10 wood and four 12 x 24 stone looks. It also has a pre-applied adhesion strip for a vertical pressure fit. Earthwerks was also highlighting its own Genuis Scan barcode with Microsoft technology. Capturing a photo of the code directs the smartphone user to Web-based content that currently shows an information video that reaches end users.
In a noticeably bigger booth than last year, Charles Lamoureux, marketing director, said the goal was to have a comfortable area to meet with its customers. “We want to reinforce our product lines such as Stonescape PVC- and VOC-free tile and our rubber line.”
Advantis, a rubber line introduced last year, has been a highlight for the company. “It bloomed before we expected it,” Lamoureux said.
The company is also launching continuing education credits for architects and designers that will ultimately help retailers. “We had retailers asking for life cycle comparison charts, and with the course material they had that information on hand.”
The big news here is the grand opening of the company’s new U.S. manufacturing facility in Dalton, slated for this spring. “We’re the best kept secret and committed to business in the U.S.,” said Xavier Steyaert, CEO. “I’m excited to drive product development from the U.S.”
Steyaert focused on two advantages of the new facility. The first is flexibility; goods will travel faster to market with options for special rolls for customers because they don’t have to wait four weeks for shipping. The second advantage is in innovation. With the latest technology now in Dalton, there are options from new developments from line processes to embossing techniques that go beyond rudimentary printing. This is important because flooring is a fashion business and designs sell. An example of this is Nostalgia, a sheet product that highlights retro wood looks.
One of the most important aspects of IVC is the profit margins afforded to its customers. “Whether you’re distributor or retailer, you’re going to make a lot of money with our products,” Steyaert said.
At Surfaces 2011, the mill made its first foray into the commercial arena with Itec, aimed for education, healthcare and retail facilities. A 100% recyclable product, it is also slip resistant, mildew and bacteria repellent and a strong thermal insulator. In total there are 25 designs in 78 SKUs.
Sobella OmniHD fiberglass sheet, unveiled at Surfaces 2010, was bolstered by new additions this year. Colorado is a large-scale slate look in five colors, and Veranda is a modular terra cotta in four colors. Sobella Supreme was updated with Alloy, a metal look in four hues, and Cantina, a 12-inch terra cotta in four tones. Sobella Classic also received an update with Encore, a slate design with grout lines.
“OmniHD has been incredible since the moment it was introduced last year,” said Betsy Amoroso, marketing manager. “The new patterns will add to the popularity.”
Adura LVT was enhanced with three tile patterns. Calypso is a weathered stone look; Casa is concrete without grout or tile with grout, and Vibe has a textured linen look.
“One of the interesting things about Adura is you can get a hard, sleek, marble look and a warm, textured look in the same durable vinyl product,” Amoroso said. “With some of the lines you can mix and match colors for customization.”
Exhibiting in one of Surfaces largest spaces at 7,700 square feet, Tarkett provided “the ultimate flooring experience” by setting up its booth as home— not just a house, but one with a yard, driveway and garage, all of which were outlined by the floors that created each space. For example, green Johnsonite 24 x 24 folio product implied yard space; modular stone created a pathway to the “front door” or main entrance to the booth, and the garage was the place for deals on first-quality goods, said Gary Finseth, director of marketing.
Touch screens outlined future Tarkett products, including a preview of Transcend, a floating LVT scheduled for a third-quarter release, and an unnamed LVT cut to a grouted plank format.
Featured on the walls were retailer quotes that addressed various needs of Tarkett’s customers. Goods were divided into sections based upon the value it held for its consumers. For example, Ward Breithaupt of Abbey Carpet Giant in Newburgh, N.Y., said, “My customers are big on comfort and stain resistance,” and the over-sized, posted quote set the stage for FiberFloor’s stain story.
“It’s a much different experience than walking into a flat booth,” Finseth said. “There are so many experiences.”
Texline features unique sheet technology the supplier calls F2C2 construction—a fiber- glass foam compact core for comfort underfoot and stability and patented textile backing made of 95% recycled PET fibers. “It allows you to install over subfloors with up to a 1⁄8- inch void, saving end users unnecessary floor prep work,” said Glenn Gardner, president and CEO. He added there is a process of education to understand the backing, but those who have used it have raved about it. “They love its quality of construction.”
Texline is also the only residential 13.2-foot sheet vinyl that carries a class 1 fire rating in either gluedown or loose lay installations, and is the only floor that can be loose laid over a substrate with up to 12 pounds of moisture, Gardner said. “Moisture doesn’t change the dimensional stability of the floor.”
Spectrum Imports will be introducing four wood grains, including a white epoxy performance finish with a crazing that usually appears on ceramic tile. Stone and ceramic looks will follow in the second quarter.
The makers of Lamipro forayed into the resilient market with LVT planks under the Vinpro.us brand. The goods have a 10-year commercial and 20-year residential warranty for the solid vinyl with exquisite embossing and advanced adhesion technology. Pete Ciganovich, COO, said the product was perfect for DIY. “We have targeted the major retailers with this stylish, price- conscious collection.”
The Mexican-based supplier of VCT launched its first LVT line called Accufloors targeted toward the commercial market. It comes in 36 x 36 tile looks as well as carpet and stone visuals. Currently the only available installation method is gluedown but other methods are in development.
“You have to differentiate yourself because there is a lot of competition in this category,” said Tony Kanan, president. “We have one of the thickest wearlayers in the industry, and the technology we use saves money on installation, mainly in materials.”