October 14/21, 2019: Volume 35/Issue 8
By Lindsay Gonzalez
As the resilient category continues to expand into various subsegments, flooring dealers have had to stay abreast of where each product—once installed—will truly thrive. LVT, WPC and SPC—arguably the three most popular resilient products today—all have different nuances that make one better than the other for different projects.
When helping a consumer find her ideal floor, experts say retail sales associates need to consider several factors, including the consumer’s lifestyle and the room in which the flooring is being installed. For instance, areas with direct sunlight could benefit from an SPC product. That’s according to George McMurtry, owner, America’s Carpet Outlet, State College, Pa., who explained flooring near “a porch or deck entrance with a southern exposure, a wall with full length windows or in a home without UV protection in the windows is typically in direct sunlight. A WPC product could be more susceptible to movement caused by the direct sunlight than a product with an SPC core.”
SPC can also be the ideal product for a consumer looking for a high-performing floor. “SPC is a home run for those wanting tough, dent-resistant hard surface, especially if they don’t want to remove their existing ceramic or porcelain tile,” said Marjorie Benson, president, Friendly Floors, Port Charlotte, Fla. “WPC is great for some of the older population where a bit softer, resilient floor is helpful for hips, ankles and knees.”
For Cathy Buchanan, co-owner, Independent Carpet One, Westland, Mich., SPC is the go-to for three-season rooms. “A rigid core product would be the first direction shown to the consumer due to fade and ever-changing temperatures and the water aspect of this product,” she noted.
Buchanan said she also believes situations calling for rolling chairs and extreme traffic could benefit from SPC’s performance attributes. “SPC is a sure bet due to its strength, flexibility in application, temperature allowance and price for budget.”
While WPC and SPC flooring have become the go-to products for residential projects, they are also making their way into the commercial space. “I recommend LVT products in any situation that a customer may be looking at hard surfaces, and more than ever in baths and wet areas,” said Chris Kemp, owner, Kemp’s Dalton West Flooring, with three locations in Georgia. “I like to use SPC in commercial areas.”
Craig Phillips, president, Barrington Carpet, Akron, Ohio, has seen his custom builder, commercial and retail business all shift over to SPC products. “SPC offers many advantages over traditional LVT—no acclimation, better sound absorption, in addition to being more forgiving of imperfect subfloors. We have actually seen some of our property accounts switch to SPC where their budget permits. The SPC products offer very realistic visuals and are built for today’s active households.”
Despite WPC and SPCs’ strong hold on most of the faux wood flooring market, traditional LVT is still being specified in various commercial projects. As Benson explained, “Glue-down LVT is better for commercial applications where chairs, carts, etc., may be rolling over them. In Florida, we have more concrete slabs in poor condition than not, so we prefer floating floors residentially.”
Phillips said he sees LVT being installed mainly in property management projects. “It’s aggressively priced but allows the property managers any opportunity to upgrade their common area flooring within the apartment to a better-looking, durable, easily repairable flooring.”
While it is clear most dealers have their top product categories for different installation projects, many stress the fact that they don’t push the consumer to one specific product.
“Typically, for most homeowners we would not make any significant distinction among the different construction types of LVT,” McMurtry said. “In more residential environments, our experience is the final selection should be based on color, traffic type and volume and general appearance.”
McMurtry is not alone. Tim Schoolfield, owner, Countryside Carpets Flooring America, O’Fallon, Mo., said his staff keeps it simple. “This gets way too complicated, and as sales professionals we can get too far out in the weeds. I tell them to pick the look and feel they like; take the samples home and see how they look. If they like it and it fits their budget—buy it. In most residential applications, it doesn’t matter what acronym it is. Most household moisture cleaned up properly isn’t going to hurt it.”
To help dealers meet the needs of all consumers, manufacturers have brought various innovative LVT, WPC and SPC products to market. Following are several of those flooring lines from some of the top resilient manufacturers in the industry.
Cali Vinyl Longboards
Longer, broader and better looking. That’s the gist of the new Cali Vinyl Longboards collection. The coastal-inspired launch offers extra-large planks—70 7/8 x 9—for natural-looking floors that install faster and create spaces that feel open and serene. Improved hardwood visuals (North Shore Oak seen here) come with specialized embossing—grains and knots can be felt as well as seen. Planks are 100% waterproof, according to the company, and geared for commercial grade durability with a GeoCore limestone composite foundation. An ultra-thick, 20-mil wear layer delivers scratch protection from pets, kids and party-people, while built-in acoustic padding offers boost- ed sound insulation.
Inhaus – Sono
Sono is a German-made, waterproof, PVC-free, floating resilient plank product that competes directly with PVC products such as LVT, SPC and WPC. Sono is engineered with indoor air quality as a top priority as its core consists solely of two ingredients: polypropylene and mineral pow- der. The result, the company said, is Sono is manufactured without the use of plasticizers, contains no phthalates or formaldehyde and has an ultra-low VOC emissions rating. High-definition digital printing makes possible a 1 in 18 plank repeat on Sono’s 26 decors. The product is finished with four coats of hard-wearing (AC5), natural lacquer that gives the product an authentic look, comfort underfoot and can be easily repaired. The product comes equipped with Megaloc, the company’s standard, easy to use, fold-down installation system, and can be cut by scoring and snap- ping, making it one of the quickest and easiest types of flooring to install.
Now in select specialty retail stores across the country, Pergo Extreme provides Mohawk’s Edge partners an exclusive luxury vinyl collection. Consumers can choose from 60 authentic designs including wood-looks, stone-looks, and—for the very first time—tile, each inspired by nature and built to last. According to Mohawk, Pergo Extreme’s superior construction and performance attributes produce one of the best rigid warranties in the industry: dent-proof, 100% waterproof and 100% kid- and pet-proof.
MSI – Bayhill Blonde LVT
Bayhill Blonde luxury vinyl tile from the Everlife rigid core collection offers light cashew brown tones with subtle knots and graining for an authentic wood look. This 7 x 48-inch luxury vinyl plank is 100% water- proof, the company said, and protect- ed with a 20-mil, commercial-grade version of CrystaLux, a wear layer designed to guard against everyday scratches, spills, pet accidents, indentations and sun damage. It also comes with a custom-designed beveled edge, a pre-attached backing to ensure comfort under foot and an easy-install locking system.
NovaFloor by Novalis – Maybree
According to NovaFloor, its latest collection, Maybree, features a portfolio of styles and colors that are as resilient as they are beautiful. Ultra-realistic and on-trend visuals pair with an extra-thick, 6mm high-density core, 20-mil wear layer and NovaFloor’s NovaShield protective coating. What’s more, Maybree’s waterproof construction allows it to be installed in any space, including wet areas such as laundry rooms and bathrooms. An attached foam underlayment for a softer step and a fold-down locking system for easy installation round out the product attributes that make Maybree an ideal flooring option for the home.
Shaw Floors – Distinction Plus
Distinction Plus, one of the newest luxury vinyl introductions from Shaw Floors, features 10 light-toned contemporary visuals in oak, maple, pine and eucalyptus to meet increasing consumer demand for lighter wood visuals. Part of the Floorté Classic Series, Distinction Plus is a WPC construction designed with classic style and amplified comfort in mind. Its 100% waterproof core has added foaming agents for enhanced comfort underfoot, the company said, combined with an attached Soft Silence acoustical pad for sound absorption. Additionally, Distinction Plus features a 12-mil wear layer and Armourbead finish for protection against spills and daily foot traffic.
Tarkett – NuGen
When Tarkett customers asked for a rigid core flooring with more flexibility, easy installation and beautiful designs for any room, the manufacturer said it respond- ed with NuGen. Combining the enhanced performance of rigid core with the authentic look of hardwood, Tarkett said NuGen handles anything kids and pets can spill or drop on it. NuGen is available in the most popular colors, styles and sizes. With easy, no-mess installation, guaranteed long-term wear and authentic- looking wood designs, NuGen aims to deliver a better flooring experience.
USFloors – COREtec
USFloors’ original COREtec patented Waterproof Foamed Core (WPC) flooring provides a combination of beauty, durability, comfort and sound-insulating performance. Its 100% waterproof COREtec WPC core is a rigid core composition manufactured with foaming agents to reduce surface tension. The “Plus” is the attached cork underlayment, which provides added sound dampening, absorbs subfloor imperfections and resists mold and mildew. COREtec The Original products consist of a layered construction for optimal performance. A 20-mil wear layer protects against excessive wear and stains while the luxury vinyl top layer features on-trend designs. WPC is designed for residential applications, but is suitable for light to medium commercial installations.
Wellmade – Opti-Wood
Wellmade’s Opti-Wood HDPC rigid core flooring is now available in a premium plank, featuring 7-inch widths and extra-long, 84-inch lengths. The real hardwood wear layer focuses on top-selling oak variations with dynamic cathedral graining, along with a variety of popular hickory and birch wood species. Color options range from mainstream gunstock brown and muted grays to neutral crème, finished in low-luster, wire-brushed textures. Opti-Wood’s waterproof performance makes it suitable for most residential or commercial installations.