By Reginald Tucker
With so much competition in the resilient category today—especially within the LVT, WPC and SPC product subsegments—it’s easy to fall into the “me-too” trap. But one company, Akron, Ohio-based SRP Industries, is looking to change the game with a new iteration of resilient flooring based on advanced polymer technology.
The new product, called NextFlor, features a combination of both natural and synthetic (non-toxic) materials to render a floor that offers end users a host of desirable attributes and properties ranging from durability to comfort underfoot. “We were looking to design the perfect flooring for residential and light office use,” said Shane Price, president. “It was developed from the ground up to be the ultimate fusion of function, style and durability. The goal was to design something that had the best of all worlds.”
Following is a closer look at the key attributes of NextFlor:
“The first thing it had to be was long lasting,” Price said. “You can replace a floor because design styles change, or for other reasons, but we didn’t want customers to ever have to replace something because it wore out. Carpets dirty out, and they’re constantly getting replaced. Many vinyl products develop wear patterns. With tile, the grout comes loose. NextFlor has none of that, so it’s designed to last for decades.”
NextFlor aims to mimic the look of in-demand natural materials such as hardwood and tile. Beveled planks come in a 6 x 48 inch format, which accentuates aesthetic properties such as graining. And even the most durable wood flooring isn’t immune from changes in temperature and humidity, while NextFlor is. “With the change of seasons, real wood grows and shrinks, and you can get the gaps between the planks,” Price explained. “Likewise, when the humidity goes up, it grows back again. NextFlor doesn’t have any of that. It won’t warp, cup or shrink or grow like wood, but it has the look of natural wood.”
Thanks to its elastomeric properties, NextFlor provides a comfortable surface for consumers to walk on. “For a hard surface product, it’s not hard on your feet,” Price explained. “It has that underfoot cushioning effect to make it much easier to not only walk but stand on. It actually gives under your feet.”
In much the same way that cork flooring provides resiliency while minimizing noise transfer, NextFlor’s cushioning properties also offer benefits in the form of sound attenuation. “Sound dampening is a big benefit, especially in larger places where you have hard surfaces—they can negatively affect the acoustics in the room,” Price said. “NextFlor doesn’t have any of those issues. It’s much more quiet.”
Some resilient floors on the market contain phthalates—plasticizers put in vinyl to make it softer. Other resilient products contain PVC, a known carcinogen. NextFlor doesn’t. “Toxic substances are absent in this product,” Price stated. “They don’t belong in our office spaces, they don’t belong in our homes.”
According to Price, NextFlor is inherently hygienic due to its antimicrobial content, which is designed to inhibit the growth and proliferation of microbes. The technology is actually incorporated within the matrix of the product as opposed to a coating or other topical treatment.
“Protective antimicrobial coatings may wear off over time,” he said. “With NextFlor, the antimicrobial protection goes all the way through the thickness of the product. So the benefit will always be there with the flooring.”
NextFlor was developed to be simple enough for the handy homeowner to install, and familiar for the professional floor layer. What’s more, it can be installed over any underlayment, including plywood or luan in residential settings or concrete in commercial. The only tools required, according to the company, are a trowel to spread the adhesive and a utility knife to cut it. “If you can install LVT, you can install NextFlor,” said Steve Eickelman, vice president of Ryan Carpet Sales & Service, Youngstown, Ohio.
Designed with busy consumers and homeowners in mind, NextFlor can easily be cleaned via wet mop. “Because it’s an elastomer, it will not stain like carpet or grout,” Price explained. “So you can spill anything on it and just wipe it up. Another big advantage is you don’t have to wax it or seal the grout.”
Tricia Lionetti, the first residential customer who had the product installed in her home earlier this year, concurs. “NextFlor looks great and is easy to maintain,” she said. “I am still amazed how comfortable it is to walk on compared to other floors.”
Made in the USA
NextFlor is produced wholly in the U.S. at the company’s plant in Akron, Ohio, the “rubber capitol” of America. This not only translates into faster delivery times for retailers, but a more stable supply of product at an accessible price point. (Suggested manufacturer retail price is between $5.29-$6 per square foot, allowing elbow room for distributors and retailers to make margin.)
“Even though it’s in that price range of the LVT, we believe firmly it’s a far superior product,” Price said. “It’s a completely new game changer for residential.”
Ryan Carpet’s Eickelman agreed, adding, “There is definitely a place in the market for it.”