By Reginald Tucker
Given the fierce competition facing the laminate flooring category today, suppliers are continuing to look for ways to keep the segment relevant. One of those ways includes the use of modern locking system technologies that perform key functions ranging from expediting installation to fighting moisture incursion.
Offering more than just “bells and whistles,” these advanced locking systems play to laminates’ strengths while giving suppliers the tools they need to better compete against the likes of LVT, WPC and SPC.
“Our high-end products are now exclusively water resistant due to the locking system’s ability to seal out moisture,” said Travis Bass, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Swiss Krono USA. “These products are not as easy to install as traditional ‘drop-and-lock’ systems, but the trade-off is positive.”
More importantly, modern locking systems translate into profit opportunities for laminate suppliers’ retailer and distributor partners by providing features designed to command a premium price. “These modern locking systems give laminate the water-resistant ability to compete with resilient floors,” Bass added. “With this attribute, laminate is simply the best all-around choice in floor covering.”
Major laminate suppliers are looking to leverage the latest locking mechanism technologies to their advantage. Take Inhaus, for example. The company has created an innovative water- resistant locking system featured on its angle-fold Megaloc locking system. The technology is standard on all Inhaus products. As Derek Welbourn, CEO, explained, it is an enhancement designed to improve the water-resistant characteristics of the company’s products.
“The joint is designed to prevent water from penetrating the product’s core and the jobsite’s subfloor, which can occur during wet mopping or spills,” he said. “This is achieved through a tighter fit between planks and a new, patent-pending overlapping architecture of the locking joint.”
Manufacturers across the board are incorporating advancements in their locking systems to combat water incursion. Mohawk’s ever-expanding RevWood Plus offerings, for example, entail a complete waterproof system comprising the Uniclic MultiFit locking system, Mohawk’s GenuEdge pressed beveled edge and the company’s HydroSeal perimeter coating to trap liquids on the surface of the floor, thereby preventing damage to the coreboard. The waterproof seal is so reliable, according to Mohawk, that consumers can even regularly wet mop a RevWood Plus floor—something unheard of with traditional laminate floors.
“With RevWood Plus, we have taken performance to the next level,” said Adam Ward, senior product director. “The combination of HydroSeal, GenuEdge bevel technology and the Uniclic glueless locking system—which keeps water from seeping past the joints—makes the flooring completely water- proof.”
Another example of advances in locking technologies in conjunction with specially treated edges is Shaw Floors’ REPEL Laminate collection, which boasts water-resistance technology. How it works: a barrier made of proprietary water-resistance material is applied to laminate flooring and activated when moisture strikes the surface or sides, thereby shielding the floor from damage.
“Extensive product testing and research have proven this product has superior resistance to household spills or messes and demonstrates that water-resistant claims for laminate products are legitimate,” said John Hammel, director of category management, hard- wood and laminate. “This protection gives consumers more time to discover and clean spills, demonstrating REPEL’s effectiveness at resisting moisture.”
Laminate flooring suppliers are working more closely with the companies that hold the patents for various locking mechanisms. The aim is to further enhance an already robust offering of glueless systems.
“CFL has agreements related to its intellectual property (IP) with many other major flooring IP holders,” said Barron Frith, president of CFL North America. “This allows us to offer the most effective locking technology for each type of flooring we manufacture, including moisture protection, but also easy, tap-down installation at an optimal value add.”
Another example is Beauflor, which has launched a water-resistant laminate collection that features a Välinge 5G locking system. The mechanism works via a fold-down installation method that makes the overall installation process faster and easier. There is no need for glue or nails because each plank is equipped with a flexible plastic tongue that is pushed into a wedged tongue-groove that snaps the product together. Once the tongue is secured, a clicking sound signifies the products are successfully locked together. The seal is tight enough to lock out spills for up to 72 hours, the company said.
“The Välinge 5G locking system is ideal for retailers because it meets the needs of different customers,” said Tami Stahl, senior marketing manager for Beauflor. “It is easy enough for a DIY customer who wants to tackle his own home remodel project or a time and material cost saver for the budget-conscious customer who is concerned about installation costs. For installers, the Välinge 5G locking system reduces the time required to complete the job and does not require a back-breaking installation process. This means the installers are able to complete the job faster and move on to the next one.”