January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15
By Reginald Tucker
Inhaus is looking to kick off the new year in a big way via the launch of an innovative product that aims to break new ground in the waterproof core category. The new product, called Sono, is fundamentally different than WPC offerings currently on the market as it is a homogenous product made in a one-step process featuring Inhaus’ patented Ceramin technology.
According to Derek Welbourn, CEO, Ceramin is a one-step manufacturing process that produces a homogenous product where the core is formed with ceramic powder and polyolefin without extrusion. Another unique attribute about Sono, he explained, is it is made with ceramic powder and polyolefin—and that’s it. The manufacturing process has been uniquely designed to use low-pressure heat rather than chemicals to create a finished core.
“This is our largest initiative for 2017 by far,” Welbourn said. “We have invested [nearly $84 million] on our unique version of a waterproof composite product and it will be our first offering to North America.”
The patented production process using low-pressure heat results in a product that has no internal pressure that needs to be controlled; it is naturally stable. The main advantage is there are no plasticizers or phthalates of any kind, and the product does not contain any formaldehyde. The resulting product is waterproof, highly stable under both heat and humidity, Inhaus stated.
In terms of installation, Inhaus said the product can be “scored and snapped” in much the same way that ceramic tile is cut to fit. Installers may also use a table saw to cut the planks, which are available in 51 x 8 or 24 x 12 formats. What’s more, Sono can be installed in a 100 x 100 scenario without transition strips.
Sono not only scores high marks in terms of its performance attributes. According to Inhaus, it’s just downright good looking, too. “The most exciting thing that our new Sono product offers is exceptionally great visuals,” Welbourn said, citing decors that range from rustic to traditional, in wood grain textures or sawn-cut looks. “Our finishing technology is high-definition digital printing in combination with UV-cured acrylic lacquer. The lacquer is a clear finish that highlights the digital print and the combination resulting in amazing visuals. Furthermore, the digital process allows us to be flexible with design as there are very few repeats in the printing process—or approximately four and half fewer repeats than standard LVT.”
Sono also offers advantages in the maintenance and upkeep department. The product comes with an AC5 rating, meaning the homeowner can use a wet mop to clean the floor. “The cleaning and maintenance would be identical to our laminate offering,” Welbourn said. Sono is also Greenguard Gold certified for indoor air quality.
In support of the launch, Inhaus is providing its distributor partners with sales tools and marketing materials to help educate retailers and consumers. Housed in the same merchandising display as its laminate offerings, Sono samples entail oversized boards in a stand-up display (13 boards per display for a total of 26 colors). It also comes with training manuals, installation guides and architectural folders. Suggested retail pricing is $4.99 per square foot.
Inhaus is confident Sono will draw the attention of distributors and retailers when the product makes its official debut. According to Welbourn, it’s a matter of perfect timing. “The most important aspect of our product is visually we’re ahead of the standard vinyl categories. We’re able to use high-definition digital printing technology combined with a UV-cured lacquer, so it’s more authentic, just like a real wood floor.”