By Reginald Tucker—If there was any question about the resurgence of laminate flooring in the U.S. market, all doubts were vanquished at Surfaces earlier this month. From existing suppliers looking to significantly expand and upgrade their offerings in the category, to new entrants dipping their toes in the water, there was no shortage of new laminate products to preview. Following is a sampling of some of the Surfaces 2022 laminate offerings.
First there was RevWood, then RevWood Plus and Select. With each iteration, retailers were given new features and benefits to offer the consumer. Now comes RevWood Premier featuring Mohawk’s Signature Imprint technology. The company’s latest innovation in laminate—according to David Moore, senior director of product management, wood and laminate—aims to take realism one step further.
“We have various technologies that we put into RevWood— WetProtect waterproof technologies, antimicrobial, Uniclic and pressed beveled—but most of those are centered around performance and how it wears and tears over time,” he said. “With our new technology, Signature, it’s really about making the most accurate representation of real engineered hardwood.”
According to Moore, the improved realism is achieved through three development phases: captured design, texture and finish. The first stage begins with sourcing a real wood visual and then scanning that sample to glean as much information as possible out of the source wood. Moore attributes this to the company’s “deep-scan” technology, which is used to replicate an image of wood on design paper. “Whereas traditional laminate scanners generate only about four points of data, we can actually pull 64 independent layers of data out of the surface of the product,” he explained. “That translates into the ability to capture more of the subtle details and nuances of what we’re able to replicate and having that fine level of detail resolution.”
The next step entails the application of texturing in the wear layer to match the characteristics of the wood pattern and graining in the underlying image. Through proprietary press-plate technology and manufacturing methods, Mohawk ensures the texture matches the natural marks in the wood image—the mineral streaks, the knots, the splits, etc. The last piece of the equation is its Clarity finish, which produces a higher resolution across a broader spectrum of colors, Moore said.
Mannington’s best-selling laminate line, Restorations, gets a fresh infusion with the introduction of Revival—five trendy SKUs of 8-inch-wide planks that emulate the natural variation found in real hickory. Produced by Mannington domestically, the line leverages innovations in digital printing plus SpillShield Plus waterproof technology.
“We were able to achieve a visual that looked like real wood, where in LVT that’s harder to do,” said Cristen Del Bove, director of residential styling. “With embossed in registration, you can really achieve more realistic looks. These innovations set us apart and get us into the premium part of the market.”
The 2021 launch of Lamdura, the latest laminate flooring innovation from Inhaus—coincided with the resurgence that the category began to experience in earnest in the U.S. market. All the more reason to give them more of what they’re looking for.
To that end, Inhaus has broadened its offering to include three different tiers for retailers to market. “Our opening laminate in Lamdura is a 7mm (plus 2mm attached pad), then it goes to 8mm (plus 2mm) and then a 10mm,” said Derek Welbourn, CEO. “Prices range as you go from 7mm, which is probably going to be in the low $2s. Our upper-end product will be in the $3.50-$4 range.”
Standout colors include Snow Drop, based on a European oak pattern, and Triton, an incredibly realistic handscraped look in a warm, brown tone. To ensure color exclusivity, Inhaus sources lumber that’s electronically scanned, then it produces the plates to digitally print the images directly on the product.
Everybody’s getting into the act with laminate these days, and at Surfaces that included companies like Engineered Floors. For Dream Weaver, the residential flooring brand for EF, the move into laminate did not involve a lot of soul searching.
“Laminate is one of the fastest growing product categories in flooring,” said Eric Ruppert, residential brand manager who oversees all brands for Dream Weaver. Branded Timber Step, Dream Weaver’s water-resistant laminate, is sourced from Kaindl, a European manufacturer, and will be housed in north Georgia.
Tymbr—The Dixie Group
First, The Dixie Group entered the hard surface arena with a line of rigid core offerings under the TruCor brand and hardwood under the high-end Fabrica label. Now, it’s throwing its hat into the suddenly resurgent laminate arena with Tymbr, 7 1⁄2 inches wide x 72 inches long, with a four-sided painted micro bevel and EIR for authentic texture and looks.
“Laminate has fought its way back,” said T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division of TDG. “Laminate has improved and can go in places that maybe you wouldn’t have put it in a few years ago. Our testing has shown that it is more water resistant than many of the other laminates out there.”
Known for its 30-year history of product innovation across various categories—particularly when it comes to performance attributes in hard surface—Torlys is now putting more of the spot- light on the environmental attributes of its product offerings. That includes its line of innovative laminate products marketed under the Smart Floors banner.
“Floors so nice you’ll use them twice,’’ is how Peter Barretto, president and CEO, summed up the campaign. The click nature of laminate flooring, along with its ease of assembly, according to Barretto, make it an ideal choice for today’s shoppers. “Consumers, especially millennials, are thinking repurpose,” he said. “That dovetails with our company’s emphasis on the three Rs—Reduce, Reuse and Renew.”