Laminate: Customization opens up design—and profit—opportunities

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January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15

By Reginald Tucker

If there’s one category that lends itself to customization, it’s laminate flooring. From the many design options available through mixing and matching random-width, random- length planks in the same SKU to altogether different patterns, consumers have a wide choice of scenarios when planning an installation.

Manufacturers, for their part, are working to help inspire retailers and their installers to present various options to the consumer. Quick-Step, for example, has developed an application that allows a customer to visualize how a particular floor or pattern will look in her home. The new tool, called Style My Floors, lets shoppers virtually “try on” Quick-Step laminate floors in the comfort of their home using a tablet, smartphone or other web-enabled device.

The tool, which features true-to-size plank scaling technology, provides a simplified graphic interface for easy-to-follow steps and quick visualization along with high-definition plank modeling and light detection technologies that combine to create realistic visuals. What’s more, once the homeowner has chosen her ideal pattern, she can use the built-in product calculator to estimate the amount of material she will need for the project. The consumer can also order samples or—when she’s ready—use the Quick-Step dealer locator to schedule an appointment.

“Using the tool Quick-Step retailers can review the homeowner’s Style My Floor designs, pull larger showroom samples, give expert advice and help her complete the purchase,” said Paij Thorn-Brooks, vice president of brand marketing.

The customization possibilities don’t end there. All of the flooring patterns available to the consumer may also be used on vertical surfaces such as walls. “This trend has taken off with homeowners wanting to spice up their own rooms in this very unique way,” Thorn-Brooks said. “It adds something very special to the room and can liven up an otherwise dull space. Accent walls offer just enough texture, pattern and color to make a room more interesting without overpowering it.”

Quick-Step is not the only manufacturer that provides online tools to help consumers customize their laminate installations. In fact, Armstrong Flooring has long offered its Design a Room feature, an online visualizer that provides a series of pre-furnished room scenes to help consumers envision how a particular design or combination of flooring and wall colors, etc., might look in their own settings. Consumers also have the option of uploading their own photos to provide a true sense of how the finished room will look.

One fairly new Armstrong offering that lends itself to customization is the Architectural Remnants collection. Inspired by fashion trends, the new line depicts repurposed wood elements for a patchwork of mismatched designs with a sophisticated, modern twist. Blending of old and new, Architectural Remnants aims to replicate materials that evoke nostalgia.

“The appealing combination of colors and textures create a dramatic statement in any room,” said Sara Babinski, a designer with Armstrong. “From accent walls to wainscoting, discover how you can elevate your walls with our laminate flooring.”

Options fuel design ideas
To help professional installers and novice laymen alike, manufacturers are packaging planks in each box along with instructions that provide users with various design scenarios. With these random-width/random-length planks, suppliers say, consumers get to design their own floors by creating combinations of colors and plank sizes to suit their individual tastes.

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