Category has retailers ‘floating’ on Cloud 9
By Ken Ryan
Volume 26/Number 20; February 18/25, 2013
The way Allen Cubell, vice president, product management-residential resilient, Armstrong, views it, “happier consumers means everyone in the channel makes money.” And these days, robust sales of resilient flooring are putting smiles on a lot of faces in the flooring industry.
“Resilient’s time is now…a vinyl revival,” said Cubell. “Start with the beauty of today’s products. Now that the consumer is hooked with beauty, wow her with all the great performance features of vinyl. Retailers can win with vinyl’s performance including moisture resistance, softer under foot, stain resistance, etc. [These are] floors that the consumer doesn’t have to worry about and will look great in their home for a long time. Thrill the consumer with faster, easier installations.”
With such a compelling selling proposition, no wonder the resilient category, especially luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and luxury vinyl plank, has been a beacon of light amid dark economic times and the engine that spurs activity.
To those who compete in LVT, from the major players to the newbies, the category’s “astonishing growth,” as Shaw resilient category manager Clark Hodgkins termed it, is really no surprise.
Russ Rogg, president and CEO of Metroflor, said when you compare LVT’s performance and aesthetics to other flooring alternatives and factor in the cost, “LVT is simply a great value and a more attractive option than many other hard-surface floors. With more distributors, contractors and dealers embracing the category, steady market-share gains are following.”
Trends and innovation
On the trend front, the growing number of glueless installation formats and click systems; the increase in surface treatments offering mold, mildew or bacterial resistance, and advances in adhesive film are making further inroads into the residential market.
Congoleum’s adhesive film, for example, emanates from aerospace technology, and is used in the construction of airplanes to hold the parts together prior to final assembly. For the flooring company, the adhesive film “has excellent shear strength, meaning it will hold the planks together,” said Dennis Jarosz, senior vice president, marketing and sales. “However, it has a perfect balance of peel strength, which allows the installer to easily pull up the plank and reposition it. The adhesive bond strength increases with age, ensuring the planks will remain firmly bonded over time.”
Ultimately, great products, spurred by innovation, will drive success in the flooring industry, and right now resilient is the leading example.
Cryntel, which has been manufacturing vinyl tile products for more than 35 years, invested three years into consumer testing prior to releasing its newest floating product— Premiére Floating Plank & Tile.
“We listen to our customers and deliver what the market demands,” said John Hunter, national sales manager. “The response from Surfaces on our Premiére Floating Plank & Tile far exceeded our expectations.”
Cubell said consumers today are able to educate themselves and know where to search for flooring, and in high-end vinyl they can purchase great products without putting an enormous dent in their pocketbooks. “From what I see, especially when people are economizing, they don’t want to regret a financially conservative decision.”
With resilient flooring these days, there aren’t many regrets, only happy customers.
Following is a look at some of the newest introductions in the resilient floating floor category:
Product/collection: Luxe Plank, Duality, CushionStep, StrataMax
Floating floor type: Loose lay
Retail prices: Luxe Plank, $2.59 to $5.49 per square foot; Duality, $3.99 to $5.99 per square foot; CushionStep, $1.99 to $3.99 per square foot; and StrataMax, $1.79 to $3.49 per square foot
About the product: Luxe Plank is Armstrong’s most authentic, hardwood-look vinyl flooring and is installed using patent-pending Lynx technology, which makes the planks easy to reposition multiple times during installation. It is easy to maintain and is waterproof. Duality offers dramatic 3-D designs along with CleanSweep and ToughGuard layers to provide stain protection and durability. It offers a fiberglass floating structure that can be installed with the modified loose lay or glue-down method using either releasable or permanent adhesive. CushionStep with fiberglass floating construction has a cushion core for added comfort underfoot. Its visually realistic floor designs have a textured coating for a natural feel. StrataMax has a base layer with 70% stone content that holds the floor down and adds durability in a revolutionary vinyl sheet product that is quick to install. The high-performance vinyl flooring can be quickly installed as a floating floor without adhesives.
Floating floor type: SmartLink Glueless floor system
Retail price range: $4.49 to $4.99 per square foot
About the product: The Connections design features wood looks in a 6 x 48 plank size, and with realistic texture. Low gloss urethane and aluminum oxide finish provides durability and wear resistance. “The exclusive patent pending SmartLink Glueless System sets Connections apart from the competition and makes installation quick and easy,” said Dennis Jarosz, senior vice president of sales and marketing. SmartLink’s “aerospace-proven technology” allows installation over virtually any subfloor without the messy adhesive and a tight secure bond between the planks.
Product/collection: Premiére Floating Tile and Plank
Floating floor type: Float-It Technology (specially engineered high bond pressure
Retail price range: Mid $3 range; available in an 18 x 18 tile and a 6 x 36 plank
About the product: John Hunter, national sales manager, Cryntel, said the company’s Premiére Floating Tile and Plank is receiving extremely positive responses from distributors. “They view the product as unique and not a ‘me too’ floating product, which they believe will benefit them. It has also helped us establish new distribution areas throughout the country,” Hunter said. “Our color selections and our Acu-Tech embossing technique delivers both a natural stone embossing finish as well as natural hardwood look. The flexibility of a 3mm thickness eliminates some of the issues the click products are having when installed on slightly unlevel subfloors.”
Product/collection: LinkWerks, Aurora
Floating floor type: Unilin click (LinkWerks); loose lay (Aurora)
Retail price range: Varies
About the product: LinkWerks was launched in January 2011 as an LVT click product, and vice president Jonathan Train said the product took off so fast “we had exceeded our 2011 budget before the end of March and we have not slowed down since.”
“LVT click is a complicated product to make and quality is paramount,” Train said. “The formulation of our core is critical and we pride ourselves on having the best in the industry. In fact, we are so confident in our recipe that we do not require fiberglass like most other producers of click LVT.”
Floating floor type: Loose lay
Retail price range: From $5.50 per square foot
About the product: FreeFit Intaglio relies on a design and embossing process to create unique visual effects that provide a product with superior realistic textures and appearance in LVT and plank flooring. The wood visual line comes with realistic wood handscraped visuals, as well as textures of knots and distresses found in natural wood.
Hallmark Luxury Vinyl
Product/collection: San Simeon
Floating floor type: Click and loose lay
Retail price range: n/a
About the product: The San Simeon Collection contains 10 wood plank decors — surface textures, smooth, handscraped and embossed in-register for a wide array of looks, from contemporary to rustic. San Simeon is covered by a limited lifetime residential warranty on structure and surface finish. It’s FloorScore Certified with LEED points for indoor air quality and recycled content, and it features a nano-control anti-microbial finish.
Product/Collection: Nu Elements
Floating floor type: Nu-Loc floating click-lock
Retail price range: $4.14 per square foot
About the product: Home Legend’s LVT and LVP visuals are inspired by the beauty of nature and offer a pleasing array of choices—12 in 4mm thickness and eight in 5mm thickness, with four visuals crossing between the two thicknesses. A seven-layer aluminum oxide finish provides added durability against wear and tear. Each product comes with a 25-year warranty.
Product/collection: Floating Collections: Savona (4.2mm, embossed in-register, Hickory hand scraped, .5mm or 20mil wear layer, Ceramic Bead Finish, Eased Edge); Granby (4.2mm, embossed in- register, Oak, .5mm or 20mil wear layer, Ceramic Bead Finish, Eased Edge); Belfour (4.2mm, Wood grain, .3mm or 12mil wear layer, Ceramic Bead Finish).
Floating floor type: Click, Unilin locking system
Retail price range: Floating (from $2.99 to $4.99 per square foot); glue down (from $1.49 to $3.99 per square foot)
About the product: The collection offers floating floor vinyl with styles ranging from embossed in-register handscraped, stone and tile looks and wood texture finishes. The styles and finishes offered in Inhaus’ floating collection are also offered in its glue down collection, ac-cording to Derek Welbourn, CEO.
Product/collection: LVT–Moduleo Vision, Moduleo Horizon
Floating floor type: LVT–Moduleo Vision–click, Moduleo Horizon–click. (All IVC US fiberglass sheet vinyl can be loose laid up to 25 square yards)
Retail price range: Moduleo LVT material – $3.99 to $5.25/per square foot;
About the product: Built tough to handle mess makers and durable enough to withstand everyday wear and tear, IVC’s Moduleo LVT is designed with the consumer in mind, the company said. The line is 100% water resistant, as well as stain, scuff, scratch and indentation resistant. Moduleo LVT is available in 48 SKUs within two distinct click collections: Vision and Horizon.
“Moduleo LVT will not expand or contract thanks to two fiberglass cores that encapsulate a PVC inner layer that provides strength, flexibility and dimensional stability,” said IVC co-CEO Paul Murfin. “For ease of installation superiority, Moduleo LVT utilizes a proven ESQ locking system and patented push-down technology—no adhesives required. Each piece simply locks directly into place. Easy. Simple. Quick.”
Floating floor type: Loose lay
Retail price range: $5.09 per square foot
About the product: Karndean Designflooring’s LooseLay LVT product features a glueless format that is easy to install due to its non-click backing system. Offering superior installation times, Karndean LooseLay’s friction grip backing and increased dimensional stability secure the floor firmly in place with no need for adhesives in most installations.
Product/collection: Adura Luxury Flooring; Sobella
Floating floor type: LockSolid glueless installation system (Adura); Sobella (Loose lay)
Retail price range: Adura: $4.49 to $5.99 per square foot (uninstalled); Sobella: $1.29 to $3.39 per square foot (uninstalled)
About the product: Adura Luxury Flooring, known for its realistic visuals, includes award-winning designs in slate, stone and wood. Adura offers a complete luxury vinyl package, including planks and tiles in a variety of widths and sizes; grout vs. no grout; and installation options. Most patterns are available in traditional glue down or Mannington’s proprietary, patented LockSolid glueless installation system.
Sobella fiberglass flooring delivers realistic visuals in a floor that is soft and comfortable underfoot. Sobella offers easy handling and installation, including a loose lay option, through its fiberglass construction. OmniHD printing technology achieves sharp details in every Sobella design.
Product/collection: Aspire, Konecto
Floating floor type: Grip-Strip
Retail price range: Aspire, $4.71 to $5.53 per square foot depending on product; Konecto, $2.86 to $5.94 per square foot as per product
About the product: Aspire brings a new dimension to LVT: a floating, groutable luxury vinyl tile that features Metroflor’s patented Grip-Strip technology. Available in 14 designs in 16 x 16 tiles, Aspire emulates the look of ceramic and stone in three collections: Novara, Siracusa and Naples. Added realism is achieved with real grout in between each tile. Aspire’s edges feature patent-pending, Crescent-Edge technology, which enhances depth and thickness to create a lifelike appearance.
Resistance to moisture and most household chemicals/ stains, along with a very tough wear layer, make Konecto LVT ideal for high-traffic residential and commercial environments.
Floating floor type: Uniclic technology
Retail price range: Varies
About the product: Simplesse, which uses Mohawk’s patented Uniclic technology, has been a hit with consumers, according to Tammy Perez, senior brand manager, hard surfaces, Mohawk. “Consumers love that Simplesse is just as durable as it is beautiful,” she said. “It’s a good choice for high-traffic areas because it offers great dent and scratch resistance. Also, because Simplesse is highly resistant to moisture, it can be installed anywhere, even in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms.” Simplesse is 100% virgin vinyl, and contains no recycled content.
Product/collection: Elevations, Prima, Provence, Elevations5
Floating floor type: True loose lay with perimeter securing adhesive to lock the floor in place
Retail price range: Prima, $4.50; Provence, $4.99; Elevations, $5.50; Elevations5, $5.75
About the product: Elevations is available in 20 SKUs on 13 planks divided between better and best collections. Prima, the better, is comprised of eight patterns that mimic the best-selling wood species, while Provence Woods, the best line, offers five elegant designs one might find in a French country home, said founder and CEO Michael Raskin. The grouping’s beveled edges and a medium texture offer a more refined look.
Elevations5 is the industry’s first five-foot floating vinyl tile plank and features an elegant, high-end wood look inspired by the old posts and beams in classic European chalets. High definition photo scanners captured graining and tone variations for authentic visuals on 5’s printed layer, and aged texture is applied through delicate embossing with a micro-bevel that wraps around the edges of each plank for a true wooden plank look. Old-world patina is recreated through a semi-gloss finish with Raskin’s G88 ceramic bead technology that seals in Elevations’ strength, company officials said.
Product/collection: DuraTru (fiberglass sheet), Array (LVT)
Floating floor type: VersaLock locking installation
Retail price range: DuraTru ($5.99 to $25.99/square yard); Array ($1.79 to $4.99/square foot)
About the product: The Array collection includes several versatile new products featuring direct glue installation. The products are distinctive for their realistic visuals and striking color hues, along with high performance and styling. “The innovative new introductions will hold a good, better, best or superior classification, creating an easy-to-shop system aligned with top warranty offers and performance attributes,” said Clark Hodgkins, category manager, Shaw Resilient.
The DuraTru collection offers more than 100 styles and colors, and various gauges and comfort levels. This premier collection additionally features a fiberglass backing to provide ease of installation and long lasting comfort.
Product/collection: Transcend, FiberFloor
Floating floor type: Transcend (FreeSpan locking technology), FiberFloor (loose lay)
Retail price range: FiberFloor, $1.49 to $3.99 per square foot; Transcend, approximately $4.49
About the product: Transcend is a 4mm locking LVT with a 20mil wear layer. It features FreeSpan locking technology, which the company claims to be the strongest on the market. No underlayment is needed for this LVT, and it remains stable due to its FiberCore stability layer. Transcend features 16 wood-look designs, micro-beveled edges and is enhanced by the company’s Tritonite finish. It also boasts a sustainable story in that it contains no heavy metals and is phthalate-free. FiberFloor can be installed loose lay, glued down or can be taped around the edges. It has been certified as asthma and allergy friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the only flooring product to achieve such certification, according to the company. FiberFloor is offered in multiple thicknesses to meet the various installation requirements. Five collections encompassing more than 50 designs and 100 colorways are available.
Product/collection: COREtec Plus
Floating floor type: Drop & Lock Installation/glueless
Retail price range: n/a
About the product: USFloors entered the LVT market with COREtec Plus, a patent pending technologically advanced line of engineered luxury vinyl tiles and planks. COREtec Plus is positioned as a hybrid floor that blends the best features of LVT (water resistance, durability, and affordability) and laminate (ease of installation and minimal floor prep).
The COREtec Plus assortment includes a range of realistic visuals in wood planks in 5- and 7-inch widths, profiled with a beveled edge, as well as stone and tile in 12 x 24 formats.