By Reginald Tucker In a sea of rigid core sameness, floor covering manufacturers are leveraging innovation, product design and durability to propel their respective brands forward. Shaw Floors said it has executed on all three fronts as its signature Floorté Elite Series continues to gain steam—and generate continued interest—at retail.
Officially launched early in 2020, Floorté Elite—billed as an upgrade over its standard Floorté offerings—is a 100% waterproof resilient floor that features a PVC-free mineral core for added durability. Floorté Elite also boasts Shaw Floors’ proprietary PAWdefense technology that guards against pet nails and other scratches for optimal durability. An attached Soft Silence acoustical pad helps reduce noise.
“One of the things that we always strive for when we’re looking at innovative technologies and bringing products and programs to market is consumer solutions,” said Matt Rosato, director of hard surface channel, Shaw Floors. “From a consumer standpoint, we’re looking at what is out there currently and how can we improve upon different programs.”
For Shaw Floors, the primary vehicle to bring those differentiating product enhancements to life is technology. Specifically, Rosato cited a breakthrough visual innovation called HDR, or high-definition realism. This technology allows the company to create hardwood looks that more closely resemble the real thing without peformance limitations often associated with real wood.
“People love wood because of its beauty, but they realize wood does scratch,” Rosato said. “While no floor is scratch proof, the new PAWdefense technology that we have on Floorté Elite allows us to offer a 15-year residential warranty on this product. When you talk to consumers about their lifestyles, their pets, kids and just everyday activity, this product offers peace of mind.”
Floorté Elite Series is available in several plank formats that are more akin to what consumers might find with a real hardwood plank. For example, within the collection resides a product called Prodigy HDR Plus, a 7 x 48-inch plank at the opening price point. After that comes Prodigy MXL, which is a wider/longer, multi-length product in an up to 9 x 86-inch format. “When you look at an actual installation and you see it in a room, it’s a beautiful product,” Rosato explained. “But you get some of that repetition just in the fixed sizes of the planks. With the MXL boards, it looks like a premium hardwood installation.”
That’s due in no small part to the attention to detail behind virtually every aspect of the designs across the Floorté Elite Series. And it all starts with the finish on the wear layer. “You’ve got almost kind of a nano-gloss variance within the grain structure,” Rosato explained. “Typically, when you’re talking about gloss variance, that’s usually an issue where one plank has a higher or lower gloss from plank to plank. That’s not at all what we’re talking about here. It really looks like a high-end premium hardwood because of that innovation.”
But the best part is all this tech translates into higher profit margin opportunities for specialty retailers looking to get out of the “race-to-the-bottom” battle. “Floorté Elite Series is really more positioned at the upper end of the rigid core spectrum,” Rosato explained. “When you’re talking about SPCs, WPCs, Floorté Elite would be more of that premium range of product.”
Retailers who have had success with Floorté Elite Series attested to the product’s allure. “It has been a wonderful floor for us,” said Bo Perkins, sales manager, Broadway Carpet, Knoxville, Tenn. “To me, it’s the floor that people are asking for. They’re wanting something that’s waterproof and has good scratch resistance, but they also want something that doesn’t have the same board repeat so often. Floorté Elite fills that hole that we’ve been needing for some time.”
While Broadway Carpet has only had the product in its store for about two and a half months, Perkins said it has already sold a few jobs. Installers like it because it’s relatively easy to install, and consumers are impressed with the heft and weight of the product—characteristics that put it on par with real hardwood planks.
“Customers like the overall thickness and the rigidity of the floor, and it doesn’t have the same board repeat,” Perkins said. “Another great thing about this floor is it walks like a solid floor. It doesn’t sound hollow like some new floors.”