September 5, 2016; Volume 31, Number 6
By Ken Ryan
What do you get when you have a distinctive looking product that is durable, versatile, competitively priced and provides real flooring solutions?
You get arguably the hottest product on the market—WPC (wood plastic composite or waterproof core), the subsegment of the luxury vinyl category that is quickly making a name for itself. USFloors, with its award-winning COREtec, was the first to stake its claim to this burgeoning category.
Many others are following suit with their own impressive offerings.
Polishing its diamond
Vivero is notable for its composition, specifically its rigid core made of limestone and PVC, and the Diamond 10 technology used in its coating—a diamond-infused layer for extra durability. Diamond 10 allows for excellent scratch and stain resistance in addition to cleanability. Testing shows liquid will bead on Vivero’s surface, making it easy to wipe away. Another standout feature is its installation flexibility. All “good” SKUs come with simple and secure angle-angle locking technology while the “best” and “better” options feature the IntegriLock system, which uses 5G technology from Välinge. All Vivero products are also offered in glue-down options.
Pure differentiates itself from the many composite products on the market due to its extruded rigid backing and the vinyl used—components that are made in Beauflor’s own facilities in Belgium. It is cost competitive with other products in the marketplace even though the company said it is unique in terms of construction. In addition, because of its four-sided click installation system, planks and tiles can lock together without transition strips. Pure is also 100% waterproof and is notable for its sound ratings.
Raising the ‘standard’
Bliss The New Standard is the latest introduction in the luxury vinyl market, offering features and benefits unique to its patent-pending, rigid core construction. The New Standard offers the flexibility of luxury vinyl in terms of where it can be installed, and is waterproof. Bliss The New Standard offers 12 exclusive colors and visuals that are traditional, trendy and everything in-between. Bliss The New Standard is Greenguard Gold certified for Indoor Air Quality.
Expanding the assortment
EarthWerks entered the WPC space in 2015 with a single entrant in its main LVT display. The response it received was much greater than originally anticipated, prompting the company to introduce a display exclusively for its WPC line at Surfaces and then expanding the line to 12 SKUs. “We see WPC continuing to grow and gain market share from other categories, and we already have plans in place to expand the line further for 2017,” said Jonathan Train, CEO. Parkhill Plank, in a 7 x 48 format, is a layered plank consisting of wearlayer, film and backing. The line uses a 2G fold down click installation for simpler installations and enhanced durability.
Adura to the max
Mannington’s version of WPC, Adura Max, is coming out as an extension of its Adura brand. The 6 x 48 planks feature iCore Gen3 technology with a HydroLoc core and Ultra-Quiet pad to create exceptional water and noise resistance. The ScratchResist layer with aluminum oxide helps guard the floor against scratch and wear. “We’re trying to differentiate with overall construction and quality,” said Dan Natkin, senior director, residential products. “We’ve done a lot to engineer Adura Max to make sure it’s very stable and of the highest quality.”
Rigidity and strength
The Engage Genesis brand was developed with Isocore technology, which delivers rigidity and strength to Engage Genesis, while making larger formats easier to install through drop-and-lock technology. The rigid core composite results in a floating floor that is 100% waterproof and provides sound insulating characteristics through its pre-attached, acoustical underlayment.
Engage Genesis features Ultra-Fresh, an anti-microbial treatment incorporated into both the top surface layer and the pre-attached polyurethane foam underlayment. With Engage Genesis Oak, new finishing techniques with embossing invoke wire brushing, multi-glazing and distressing in various combinations.
Solution for any need
Mohawk offers SolidTech, a product it deems to be superior to WPC. The company said it has identified all of the major issues with WPC products that are out in the marketplace such as the claims on being waterproof, the impact of direct heat from sunlight, indentations and telegraphing. Mohawk said it has been able to correct all those issues while featuring high-style visuals. These products will also feature Mohawk’s Uniclic Multifit locking system to allow for easy installation. SolidTech is trademarked and will be launching in the fall under three collections and then with a greater emphasis at Solutions in December.
Unlike many WPC products in the market today, NovaCore does not contain any wood, bamboo or cork dust in the construction of its core material. NovaCore, which the company markets as a “high-performance core,” is extruded with a high-density limestone vinyl composite that improves upon impact indentation. In 2016, Novalis is offering NovaCore in large format 9 x 60 planks, called NovaCore XL. Both NovaCore and NovaCore XL come with the NovaClic FD (stands for fold down) angle-fold locking system that allows it to be installed over almost any subfloor. Novalis was the first producer to agree to license USFloors’ patent via Unilin.
No need to acclimate
Shaw markets its successful Floorté as enhanced vinyl plank. In 2016, Shaw significantly enhanced its portfolio with two new styles: Alto, featuring longer and wider planks to accommodate current consumer demand and market trends; and Valore, a value- priced product boasting exceptional visuals. Because Floorté requires virtually zero acclimation it can be easily installed over imperfect subfloors without conforming. Floorté also offers realistic visuals and is waterproof. This lets consumers install a hardwood look in areas historically off limits due to moisture concerns.
Raising the bar
USFloors takes pride in leading the WPC pack in innovation and design—and its goal is to remain that way. New for 2016 is the recently launched COREtec Plus HD, which company executives said has received positive feedback from retailers. The patented COREtec Plus collection employs high-definition print decors, embossed in register technology, attached cork underlayment and a four-side enhanced (painted) bevel edge for a truly realistic hardwood visual. The HD collection is available in 15 rustic wood decors in 7 x 72 x 8.5 mm construction. COREtec Plus HD represents the latest innovation in WPC flooring. The patented construction features an extruded core made from recycled wood and bamboo dust, limestone and virgin PVC. The product is 100% waterproof, does not require acclimation and can be floated over most any existing floor surfaces or substrates without telegraphing.
Acoustic, thermal properties
Wicanders recently developed its first waterproof cork core product—Hydrocork, which is now the fastest growing product launch in company history. Hydrocork takes the top benefits of both LVT and WPC—standing up to wear, water resistance and realistic wood visuals—to the next level. Corktech offers acoustic properties that improve noise reduction, thermal qualities that assure optimal temperature at any time of the year, and greater comfort underfoot as a result of its superior shock absorption.