April 1/8, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 22
By Reginald Tucker
Mohawk first hit a home run with last year’s breakthrough RevWood collection, an engineered flooring product designed to go toe-to-toe with other waterproof offerings such as WPC and SPC. Now it’s Quick-Step’s turn at bat as the similarly constructed NatureTEK line looks to win favor among stocking distributors.
Built on the same platform as RevWood—which is based on melamine overlay coupled with a high-resolution decorative image supported by an HDF core that has been enhanced with features that significantly boost the product’s resistance to moisture—the Quick-Step NatureTEK line aims to offer consumers all the visual attributes of a wood floor with- out the shortcomings.
Available in three platforms—NatureTEK, NatureTEK Plus and NatureTEK Select—the collections aim to provide retailers with a multi-tiered product offering that allows trade-up opportunities while giving consumers a range of options from which to choose. The NatureTEK Plus and Select offerings, which retail at about $3 and $3.50 per square foot, respectively, are imbued with waterproof attributes.
“We refer to NatureTEK—what essentially used to be our laminate platform—as ‘wood perfected,’” said Paul Murfin, senior vice president of distribution at Mohawk Industries. “It combines cutting-edge technology with the latest in design trends to deliver beautiful floors with unparalleled resistance to scratches and stains.”
Like RevWood, NatureTEK Plus and Select lines owe their waterproof qualities to Mohawk’s complete installation system. It all starts with the Uniclic locking technology, which ensures an extremely tight connection between the planks—the product’s first line of defense against moisture incursion. The analogy Murfin likes to use is when you try to put a size 10 foot into a size 9 shoe. “It’s going to be a very snug fit,” he explained.
The next critical component is Mohawk’s GenuEdge technology, which applies the decorative paper all the way to the edge of the board so there’s no exposed HDF core in the middle of the plank. For additional moisture protection, Mohawk applies its signature HydroSeal, which essentially coats the outside of the planks to prevent moisture from penetrating the product. For good measure, Mohawk recommends installers apply a silicone bead around the perimeter of the installation as an additional layer of protection.
“The whole idea of NatureTEK Plus and Select is to keep moisture on the perimeter of the product and prevent it from penetrating into the floor,” Murfin explained.
Longtime Quick-Step distributors said they like what they’re seeing in the newly reborn NatureTEK line. “The methodology behind the program is sound,” said Aaron Stred, vice president of hardwood, NRF Distributors, a top 20 wholesaler servicing eight states in the New England region. “The TEK programming ties up a lot of proverbial loose ends for Quick-Step. What once seemed fractured is now easily digestible by the retailer.”
While the waterproof attributes of NatureTEK Plus and Select are a big draw, the main allure is the aesthetic appeal. As Stred explains, “Quick-Step has left the more traditional laminate visuals behind in lieu of some very forward-thinking products. The products don’t go out onto limbs that are the ‘color of the moment,’ but rather they hit a medium in color, sheen and texture that has been pretty crowd pleasing within an array of collections.”
Other top 20 distributors such as Owings Mills, Md.-based Elias Wilf are also singing NatureTEK’s praises. Jeff Striegel, president, believes it’s just what the segment needed. “The laminate category has taken a pretty good hit over the past few years; WPC and rigid core floors certainly haven’t helped that. But the relaunch of Quick-Step in the form of NatureTEK just goes to demonstrate that if you keep a product current, fashionable and in line with the attributes that consumers are actually interested in and looking for, it still has a meaningful place on the floor both in the retail space and at the builder level.”
Striegel is particularly impressed with the combined technologies utilized within NatureTEK Plus and Select that render the products waterproof. He not only views it as a game changer but also a playing field leveler. “I think Quick-Step has established a meaningful parity with the WPC category in terms of the waterproof aspect,” he explained. “And when you take a look at the things that are inherent within this laminate product (it’s substantially more stain resistant than WPC, eight times more scratch resistant and has a higher psi, which gives much better dent resistance than any of the WPC products) it provides a real point of differentiation.”
NatureTEK’s eye-catching visuals are equally impressive. “When Mohawk introduced NatureTEK, they did it with phenomenal styling,” Striegel said. “If you were to put that product right next to wood, it looks more like wood than real wood. It is the most authentic replication of hardwood that you’ll find in the industry today.”
Nothing but upside
While it has only been a year since NatureTEK’s official rollout, Mohawk believes the product’s potential is unlimited. In fact, when viewed through the prism of a category unto itself (waterproof laminate), the company believes its growth will outpace that of WPC.
“In a world where everybody is being bombarded by rigid LVT, it’s really refreshing to have a different product category to talk about,” Murfin stated. “I would argue that this category of flooring is actually the fastest growing category in the industry today, growing faster than SPC or WPC. We are potentially looking at high-double or potentially triple-digit growth for this type of product. I’m telling distributors to think big with this product.”