In recent years, the industry has seen laminates become more realistic and wood-like, ceramic and porcelain tile achieve the look of slate, travertine and marble—even carpet looks and feels like it never has before. As technology advances, so do the products manufacturers are able to create. The same holds true for the moldings segment.
Whether it’s greater flexibility, increased applications or an ever-growing green story, manufacturers are able to offer more options now than in the history of the industry. The following takes a look at some of the category’s major players and their latest creations.
Molding consumers expect a full range of product choices for every floor they consider, noted Tom Leach, president of Artistic Finishes. Flooring manufacturers, distributors and dealers demand products with fast delivery, high quality, and lower inventory cost. To meet these seemingly contradictory demands, Artistic’s electronic inventory has over 1,200,000 products, which are coordinated to over 13,000 different manufacturers’ floors.
“Technology offers the ability to address competing demands in a manner which has given us a significant competitive advantage against both American and foreign competitors” he explained. “With website technologies, we have a practical way to present 1.2 million coordinated products which are custom to the floor being installed, while our manufacturing technologies allow us to produce any molding in just three working days.”
According to David Small, vice president of marketing for Pergo, the company’s flagship Four-in-One molding is the leading technology in the floating floor molding market. “It offers a multi-use profile assembly to handle four possible transitions: T-molding, reducer, end molding and carpet transition. We continue to expand the capabilities of this product line from beyond laminates to wood veneers in both pre-finished and unfinished, stain in place, offerings. We also continue to provide the largest color selections including a paintable white for quarter rounds and wallbase.”
As Leach said, the investment Artistic Finishes has made in technology has not only allowed the company to maintain profitability, but to extend this to new product introductions and reduced inventory costs for its customers. Taking a look at a single new product line highlights the influence that technology has had in this product’s development and performance lifecycle.
The company’s Cork Wrap moldings have been specifically created to address the explosion in the number of floors using cork. “Cork floors are distinct in look, which challenges the molding accessories for a complementary product line. Yet, with literally hundreds of different cork floor choices on the market, there is no practical way to inventory the required accessories.
“Utilizing technology to maintain the product catalog and offering the choices consumers expect allows us to inventory the raw material and manufacture the order at the time we receive it,” he added. “Technology has led us to a rapid manufacturing philosophy, while also reducing the risk associated with a new and largely unproven product line.”
Cork Wrap moldings can be offered as a complementary molding line to “virtually any cork floor with satisfactory results,” Leach continued. “The benefits don’t end when we ship the product. Our manufacturer, distributor and dealer base can count on the moldings being produced in three work days, so their need to inventory a large and expensive product line is greatly minimized, if not entirely eliminated.”
At Healthier Choice, the company recently launched a new line of stainable flexible transition moldings called Flexitions. Flexitions is the flooring industry’s one and only stain- able flexible transition molding product line, noted Drew Holland, marketing manager. Developed for use with hardwood and laminate flooring applications, Flexitions “is the solution to installation headaches when dealing with a curve, arch or radius—great for style and design as well.” Available in T-molding, threshold, reducer, stair nose and quarter round profiles, Flexitions can be stained and finished to match and/or coordinate floor coverings such as wood, laminate, tile, vinyl, stone and more.
“It takes stain just like natural wood and is available in three natural wood grains and textures making for a more natural look and feel when stained and finished,” he explained.
Flexitions is also available in standard factory applied colors. Called Flexitions Fifteen, “these standard colors coordinate with the majority of wood flooring sold today.”
Over the past five years, technology has changed the face of the floor accessories industry to the point where in some instances you wouldn’t recognize that you were in a molding manufacturing company, said Leach. “While Cork Wrap moldings highlight the application of technology to speed product development, expand choice and reduce costs, other emerging technologies are in development stages now. Artistic is committed to investments in technology, and will remain at the forefront of the digital revolution that is taking this industry by storm.”
Another firm committed to investing in technology is Versatrim, where the company has some new equipment on the way and new products in its pipeline. “We’re getting a lot of new equipment installed and will have a brand new offering in July of this year where we can match any floor out there,” said Thilo Hessler, president. “We will also have a multipurpose molding that will work with anything from LVT, laminate, engineered or solid wood and carpet. We’re actually adding onto our warehouse to make room for this new equipment.”
Hessler gave a sneak preview as to the company’s new offerings, saying they include an “exact color match program and a 3-in-1 molding that does not require any assembly or cutting.”