Resilient: Where glue down fits in a float-heavy market

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Because no acclimation is needed, speed of installation for Armstrong’s American Personality 12 is drastically increased and aids quicker builds.

By Megan Salzano—The booming flooring industry is chock-full of high-style and innovative products aimed at tapping the unprecedented growth in demand that began in 2020. From rigid core SPC to a resurgence in hardwood and even laminate and carpet, it seems like there’s no shortage of available options for consumers to choose from.

In fact, the resilient flooring market took the industry by storm yet again when it posted a staggering—and industry-leading—21.3% increase in sales in 2020 vs. 2019. Most of that growth was felt in the SPC subsegment of the LVT category of resilient flooring. However, about 20% of residential resilient sales still remains in the flexible LVT category, including dryback (glue-down) products. And in the commercial market that number is much higher, with flexible LVT garnering a whopping 62% share of the market’s $1.7 billion in sales.

So that begs the question: where does glue-down flooring fit in today’s rigid core-obsessed market and what are the features and benefits that allows it to remain a viable flooring option? According to glue-down LVT/P suppliers, the benefits are many.

“The two main advantages glue down presents over interlocking products are design and pattern options and the ability to individually replace damaged pieces without disturbing surrounding planks or tiles,” explained Jenne Ross, director of marketing, Karndean Designflooring. “Consumers can work together with their retailer to choose a layout and design that makes the home more stylish and functional while remaining affordable and faster to install than other types of hard surface flooring.”

Last year, Karndean added new stone visuals to its Opus 20-mil glue-down range, including Iberian-inspired mosaics and new sizes and colors of its brushed limestone design.

David Sheehan, vice president of residential resilient business, Mannington Mills, agreed, adding that alternative installation options are also the draw. “Speed of installation or ability to go over an existing floor are the primary advantages of floating floor,” he explained. “That said, the condition of the subfloor can significantly impact whether it is appropriate to install a floating floor. Glue-down/flexible products don’t require transition profiles. For these reasons, flexible options are well received in Main Street and commercial applications where foot traffic and everyday rigor require a better performing installation. For tile visuals, glue-down products can be installed with or without grout.”

There is, of course, the thorny discussion about costs. “Glue-down LVT offers better affordability compared to locking systems, making it a more economical choice to put beautiful designs in multifamily spaces,” explained Dave Thoresen, senior vice president, product and innovation, Armstrong Flooring. “The same holds true for Main Street and commercial, where it offers better performance for heavier rolling loads and more foot traffic.”

At retail, many floor covering installers prefer the glue-down method given their familiarity with this installation option, making it a “safe” choice for floor layers. “The material itself is less expensive, and our guys actually like installing it better,” said Jeremy Winges, co-owner of 3 Kings CarpetsPlus, Fort Wayne, Ind.

So, where in the home—or office—does glue-down LVT shine? “As with any HDPC/SPC rigid core product, glue-down/dryback performs well virtually anywhere in the home while excelling in areas prone to moisture and spills like kitchens, bathrooms and below-grade basements,” explained Steve Wagner, director of marketing, Wellmade.

Mohawk’s Leighton line is a glue-down option that needs no on-site acclimation and offers an expanded temperature range of 45 degrees to 115 degrees.

When it comes to commercial, Adam Ward, vice president of product management resilient at Mohawk, noted that glue-down LVT/P holds up better in high-traffic areas and places where heavy loads are moved. “In addition, since it’s glue down, it’s also more appropriate for larger open areas versus a floating floor such as SPC/WPC,” he added.

Given the product’s versatility and cost-effectiveness, suppliers agree glue-down flooring is an asset to any dealer’s product lineup. “Glue-down LVT allows retailers to differentiate and diversify their showroom in a crowded rigid marketplace and showcase products that aren’t as easily shopped down the street,” Karndean’s Ross said. That spells more margin opportunities. “Most homeowners are willing to pay a bit extra upfront for subfloor prep if it allows them to have the layout to that makes the most sense for their home,” she added.

Mannington’s Sheehan noted that the consumer does not really care about the installation method. For her, he noted, color and pattern are the most important attributes—followed by the performance characteristics of the product. “Knowing this, dealers should be eager to offer flexible solutions to meet the needs of their customer.”

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Oct. 11/18, 2021

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