By Megan Salzano
Multi-layer flooring has impacted the flooring market greatly as its quick acceptance by consumers has driven growth within the home. While it has taken share from other flooring categories such as laminate and hardwood, there is one subcategory that has welcomed the newcomer with open arms: moldings.
For some in the moldings game, the explosion of multi-layer flooring—including LVT, WPC and SPC—has opened new possibilities in design and, in turn, new channels of revenue. “The vinyl plank flooring category has basically introduced a completely new category for us,” said Tim Tipton, senior vice president of sales, Zamma. “While the laminate flooring business has been relatively flat the last few years, and we’re seeing a slow decline in hardwood, this has been a breath of fresh air for us.”
Even those manufacturers previously focused on categories outside of multi-layer flooring have opened their doors to the new opportunity. “As primarily a wood accessories manufacturer, sales on the majority of our wood profiles has remained flat,” said Bill Treiber, technical sales and education manager, Artistic Finishes. “The introduction of our Enduracor line of WPC accessories has allowed us to increase our sales. Now in its third full year in the market, Enduracor has continued to grow. The impact has been real.”
Treiber added that growth is becoming very diverse in the molding business due to the introduction and success of multi-layer flooring products. “It’s not just T-molds, reducers, stair nosings and square nosings,” he noted. “Today, we have to provide the complete package of accessories. The new trends are asking for treads, risers, millwork and floor vents also. With all the new multi-layer flooring products sprouting up in the flooring industry today, this task has become monumental in size and scope.”
Haley Plank, marketing manager at Flexco, noted the company’s product evolution in an effort to answer challenges unique to multi-layer flooring. “It has required us to develop products that are compatible with the flooring and wide enough to complete an installation successfully. We have introduced the new Base Sculptures Profile Wall Base with a 1⁄2-inch toe that covers the gap between the floor and wall, at the request of our customers.”
With the category continuing to grow in both style and design, matching moldings to the increasing number of product lines entering the market can be tricky. However, some molding manufacturers have found success with a variety of strategies while expecting to implement new techniques in the near future.
Plank noted Flexco’s 61 colors that can be used to match different multi-layer flooring products. “We have just introduced three new white colors,” she added. “Profile moldings will be added to the Flexco portfolio as customers expand their use of the category.”
Pennwood Products has its own in-house tooling that allows it to match just about any size flooring needed with the exact tongue-and-groove configuration, making a perfect match for the molding to the floor. The company also has plans to add new ways of matching in the fourth quarter of 2019. “At the moment we have been using all solid wood products to match the multi-layer flooring, but we are soon going to be offering WPC digital-wrapped moldings, WPC veneer-wrapped moldings and also MDF digital and veneer as well,” said Kraig Coxon, owner. “Pennwood will always focus on the hardwood flooring market whether that be engineered, WPC/SPC with a veneer or solid hardwood flooring. With that being said, we have watched WPC/SPC/LVT grow and haven’t captured near enough market on these floors. That is why we have decided to get into the wrapped moldings/digital print side of the business and try and capture some of this market as well.”
Artistic Finishes’ Treiber said that while the company’s Enduracor line stains a wood veneer to coordinate to the different floors, the company’s next finishing process will include a completely different process that will allow it to get very close to the look of the different multi-layer flooring designs. “Look for that in the near future,” he said. “Then, similar to our wood profiles, we can custom blend to the product being paired up.”
When it comes to Zamma’s strategy, Tipton said plainly, “We don’t match.” Rather, the company procures the actual decorative film that is used to manufacture the flooring. “This is the same process for any vinyl or vinyl composite flooring,” he added. “We don’t change our process or raw components, even though the flooring manufacturers do with PVC, SPC, WPC, etc. We then thermally fuse a commercial wear layer and wrap around a 100% pure PVC extruded profile.”
Looking ahead, molding suppliers said the possibilities for their products that match multi-layer flooring are endless—for those who can keep up. “The evolution into multi-layer flooring will never end,” Treiber said. “Quality increases will drive the market growth. From the moldings side of the industry only the highest quality and the best performing products will survive. Price remains a big factor also, but the technological advancements cannot be overlooked when it comes to long-term performance and aesthetics.”