October 12/19; Volume 30/Number 9
By Ken Ryan
Five years after initial development and three years after filing for a patent, USFloors has received U.S. Patent #9,156,233 for its COREtec technology.
The eagerly anticipated patent covers all USFloors engineered flooring products with a WPC core and veneer top layer with or without an attached backing.
Piet Dossche, president and CEO of USFloors, told FCNews the wait was well worth it. “How many times in a lifetime do you have the chance to create something completely new? The process took a long time; we’ve been challenged many times and each time we were successful in defending it.”
Dossche said the patent confirms the unique innovation of COREtec and reinforces the recognition of its intellectual property. “We are not looking to keep this all for USFloors and monopolize it. Quite the opposite. Our intention remains strong to work with those companies who respect our IP and are committed to growing this brand-new flooring category in a quality-focused and profitable way while vigorously protecting it from destruction caused by low-quality introductions coupled with low-ball pricing.”
COREtec technology provides an array of unique benefits that combine the best features of LVT and laminate. It’s easy to install like laminate but 100% waterproof, which means it will not swell or expand when exposed to moisture. The product’s rigid construction hides subfloor imperfections, provides a smooth visual surface and eliminates the waviness—known as telegraphing—associated with traditional glue-down or solid-locking LVT. This construction also allows for installation directly over an existing ceramic tile floor without having to fill in grout lines. Because it is virtually inert, it will not expand or contract under normal conditions, therefore there is no need for expansion gaps every 30 feet in large rooms. Superior dimensional stability eliminates the need to acclimate the floor prior to installation as well.
The patent protection covers the entire COREtec luxury vinyl tile collection, which includes COREtec Plus, COREtec Plus XL, COREtec Plus HD, COREtec One, SmartCore flooring, Stratum, Stratum XL, Innova, Fusion Hybrid Floors, Vision Hybrid Floors, as well as any future products developed and sold under the protection of its patent.
“For us this represents a breakout from being a niche player to entering a whole new dimension where we are now a main player,” Dossche said. “We already have close to 100 SKUs in our COREtec offering with more on the way. We are committed to continuing to be the market leader through product development and design and by bringing the widest selection of superior quality products to the marketplace.”
Dossche noted USFloors is open to working with other companies. To date, USFloors has arrangements with Beaulieu of America and ChinaFloors. He said he expects additional deals, including licensing the technology, now that the patent has been issued. He welcomes what he termed “healthy competition,” which will help grow the WPC category to what Dossche estimated could be a $1 billion market in five years.
Flooring dealers have experienced considerable success with COREtec since it was first launched in 2013. “When our salespeople explain to the customer how the technology works, she seems to get it and see all the benefits,” said A.J. Boyajian, co-owner of A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring, with three Massachusetts locations. “COREtec is well-priced compared to other hard surfaces. When combining all of the benefits, you end up with a great product that can be installed in a lot of areas other hard surfaces cannot, and that makes it easy to sell.”
Nick Freadreacea, president of The Flooring Gallery, with six locations in Kentucky and Indiana, said the WPC category in general—and COREtec in particular—delivers real solutions. “COREtec answers a void in the market and bridges the gap between the thinner LVT/LVP products that can give you issues with floor conditions and laminate flooring that can give you issues with edge curl when moisture is present. This category resolves both and can give you a beautiful visual and an easy floor for a consumer to take care of. I see this as a strong category with a lot of room for growth.”
Billy Mahone III, manager at Atlas Floors Carpet One in San Antonio, credited USFloors with an exceptional job of communicating its story along with the right marketing and sampling. “COREtec is an excellent product that has put WPC on the map and created a buzz in our industry. I think the reason for COREtec’s success is that it looks like laminate—a product most customers are familiar with—but it carries additional features that set it apart—water resistance, noise reduction and minimal prep requirements.”
Jeff Striegel, president of Elias Wilf, a top 20 distributor based in Owings Mills, Md., expects WPC to be the hottest category at The International Surface Event (TISE) in Las Vegas in January, predicting as many as 30 to 40 companies will introduce versions of the product. “WPC is clearly a trend that is on the move. Any time you have a product that solves a problem it seems to do well. One of the issues people have with LVT is there is some telegraphing, and therefore there are limitations with what you can put LVT over. That is not the case with WPC.”