Las Vegas—The conversation leading up to the 2022 International Surfaces Event, which was held here earlier this month, focused on attendance. Would there be enough attendees from the retail community to make the trip worth it for suppliers? And would enough new product make it through supply chain bottlenecks, cost challenges and general pandemic-related issues to provide a positive outcome for dealers?
The answer is yes.
“It makes me proud to see the flooring industry is so alive and well and healthy,” said Jenne Ross, director of marketing, Karndean Designflooring. “It warms my heart to see how busy we’ve been and how many people want to share ideas. Zoom meetings are really efficient but you’re only talking about the task at hand. Seeing everyone in person gives you more room to breathe—where you have the organic conversations—and that’s really where new business ideas get made and where you really help people.”
When it comes to the resilient category in particular, it was clear it’s no longer about getting products to market first in an effort to be seen in a crowded category. This year’s suppliers rolled out high-tech, style-focused products that each captivated attendees on their own distinct merit.
New to the show floor
Surfaces 2022 saw the addition of several heavy hitters in the resilient category to the show floor. Cali Floors, for example, held its inaugural exhibit at the show. “It is really fun to see a lot of old friends, to shake some hands and to share the Cali story with people who have read a little bit about us but haven’t really seen us,” said Doug Jackson, president. “This industry is about relationships, and we’re expanding our relationships in the industry—and with the right dealer base. So, I’m proud of the team and I’m excited.”
Cali pulled out all the stops, exhibiting products across categories—from its growing vinyl portfolio all the way to outdoor flooring options, including decking, rugs and turf. In resilient, Cali unveiled its new Legends line. Legends features lightweight planks that are a full half-inch thick for a highly authentic wood look. The company also showcased its Longboards, which offers longer/wider planks in styles that are easy to maintain and design with.
For the first time in many years, Shaw Industries brought its four brands—including Shaw Floors—together under one umbrella. “Our customers are very glad Shaw Floors is back at Surfaces,” said Steve Sieracki, senior vice president of residential sales. “We can’t replicate this in a showroom, so the fact that [our dealers] are able to work from area to area and see the story, hear the story and feel the story makes a huge difference.”
In SPC, Shaw’s Floorté brand unveiled its Paragon Plus Natural Bevel—SPC planks featuring an innovative bevel and natural color lines. Unique visuals include European oak, ash, chestnut and butternut. Planks measure 7 x 48 and are available in 10 colors.
COREtec celebrated its 10-year anniversary and unveiled several new innovations, including its new Direct Digital Design Technology. The technology is used for the brand’s SPC and said to capture more of the natural character of wood by producing an organic and varied flooring visual with an expansive pattern repeat of over 200 square feet—an increase of 114%. “COREtec is always fighting the familiar and trying to lead with innovation,” said Charla Pettingill, director of creative product design – hard surfaces. “So digital print is important to the brand for that reason. And these are visuals that truly no one else has. That’s very exciting from a design standpoint.” The technology’s target launch is late 2022 or early 2023.
Armstrong Flooring made its way back to the Surfaces show floor after being “gone for too many years,” Michel Vermette, president and CEO, told FCNews. “This is a big coming out for us, residentially. Showing our new branding and the rebranding of our product lines and company-wide efforts to be on trend is way overdue. The other thing is we have both our Signature program—which will go through distribution—and we have our Armstrong Direct program. This is the first true unveiling in a public setting of both programs.”
Within those programs will be Armstrong’s Vantage Premier and Luxe products, which include expanded price points to suit the needs of a wide range of consumers. “We’re building our rigid portfolio where the growth of the market is and making ourselves even more competitive in that regard,” Vermette added. “We’re very excited what that will look like in 2022 and going forward and to keep building the moment in the business, across the business.”
Focused on visuals
The LVT/P category has become bogged down by similar styles from myriad brands, but this year’s resilient exhibitors stood out by launching visually unique products across constructions.
Bella Flooring Group, for example, recently realigned under its new leadership team, Paul Dominie, president, and Tyler Geren, CEO. As a result, Bella has reinvigorated its go-to-market strategy as well as launched a new portfolio of hard surfaces products—including rigid core lines that run the gamut from mid-$1 to $4 price points, providing a good/better/ best option for dealers. The new line—and the company itself—focuses heavily on style and design.
“There’s this evolution toward being focused on home fashion,” Dominie explained. “So, when we do our new products, they are all vetted by our designer. She has a keen eye for not just what the consumer likes, but what is going to sell. So, Bella 2.2—as we are calling it—is about simplifying the process and putting the emphasis back on style and design while never forgetting the importance of having a good value.”
Karndean showcased new looks and products across its three resilient constructions—glue-down, rigid core and loose lay. The showstopper, however, was its chevron pattern. Available in 12-mil, the product is offered in both a glue-down and rigid core construction. “I’m really, really excited and impressed about the potential of what our new Chevron design has the opportunity to do for specialty flooring retailers,” Ross stated. “It has surpassed even our expectations, and it’s really drawing people into the booth.”
Lions Floor, a fairly new entrant to the SPC field, broadened its offering with 36 new SKUs. “We believe we have one of the most value-driven, innovative products in the industry,” said Jerry Guo, president. “This year, we are doing a few special things for our SPC rigid core offerings. We have launched 36 new colors—14 of which will be for the West Coast; 16 for the Texas market; and the last six are exclusive, patented designs—no one will be able to carry them. This will give our dealers a competitive edge.”
Wellmade unveiled its new HDPC vinyl tile at the show, which features an innovative grouted ceramic look in a 12 x 24 format and various colors. “Vinyl tile is one of this category’s best opportunities,” said Steve Wagner, director of marketing, Wellmade. “It’s the next obvious evolution. It’s an emerging category in vinyl—the last frontier. And we’re getting a lot of really good feedback. Traditional porcelain tile is beautiful, but it’s very hard and very cold and you have grout to worry about. All the negatives you might associate with traditional tile products are avoided here.”
Novalis brought its NovaFloor brand to the forefront at this year’s show. NovaFloor is the company’s retail resilient brand, which has undergone a complete makeover in the last year via branding, new products, marketing, merchandising and more. At the show, the brand highlighted Dansbee, a new vinyl line within NovaFloor’s resilient portfolio. “Dansbee captures that need for the lighter, brighter, cleaner look that everybody is going for right now,” explained Kimberly Hill, director of marketing and creative design. “In trends, we’re seeing this gravitational pull toward what we call ‘Zen’—just wanting your home to feel clean and light after all this heaviness we’ve been feeling the last few years. Dansbee really captures that. The second part of this that makes it so exciting is the new collection really balanced out our portfolio, so now we have something for every customer in ever style.”
Casey Johnson, president of Happy Feet, said what resonated with dealers at the show was the company’s Pinnacle SPC, which is offered in 12 colors, and is part of the company’s Black Label collection. “It’s undefeated right now,” Johnson said. “Since Jan. 1, no one has said anything bad about it. We were up 25% in January from the previous January. We should have a great year.”
Turning up the tech
Good looks are not the only thing attendees were in for when viewing the new resilient collections on display at Surfaces. Several suppliers touted innovative technologies that aim to boost the visual and functional appeal of rigid core flooring.
For Mohawk, it was all about celebrating its recent successes within the SPC category and following up those successes with meaningful additions via new technologies and deep inventory.
Within the SolidTech Plus tier, the Bedford collection features eight new styles featuring RealPlank Technology—Mohawk’s innovative realism technology system that helps achieve the most authentic look and feel in LVT. SolidTech Plus also features Mohawk’s new CleanProtect technology with built-in Activeguard antimicrobial technology that makes cleaning the invisible surface of the floors effortless.
Pergo Extreme’s new Ultra tier includes 10 new styles, including wider/longer planks. Pergo Extreme is created with an innovative layered system and a rigid SPC core that makes it 100% dent-proof, pet-proof, kid-proof and waterproof. The Ultra tier also features WetProtect technology, a waterproof system that delivers the ultimate protection with water-tight joints that prevent subfloor damage and a unique waterproof finish that traps moisture on the surface.
“2021 was a year of change for Mohawk,” explained Adam Ward, vice president, resilient. “We relaunched our entire SolidTech collection; we relaunched Pergo. A lot of work went into that. This year, we get to add in more of the meaningful elements that will really help move the brand forward. We’re really excited about RealPlank—the industry’s first domestically produced EIR product—and we’re really focused on inventory. So, we’re really doubling down the things that are meaningful.”
Mannington had several top collections to tout at this year’s show—including Calico and Regency under its Adura line—but the real head turner was the company’s CraftedEdge technology, which won the Best of Surfaces award in Technology. CraftedEdge is Mannington’s exclusive beveling technology that simulates the chiseled, hand-crafted bevel found on today’s luxurious hardwood floors.
“Anytime we do anything, we want it to be about meaningful innovation,” explained Terry Marchetta, vice president of residential styling. “One of our goals is always to replicate the natural product. With the micro and painted bevel, we weren’t getting the results we wanted. With CraftedEdge, it really transforms the product. Consumers want something that looks good in their home, they want it to perform and they want it to be their perfect choice. This gets them there.”
CraftedEdge will be available on select Adura Max and Adura Rigid designs—including Calico and Regency.
CFL has strengthened its position in the U.S. with new domestic manufacturing, which is producing flooring for its FirmFit brand. At the show, FirmFit showcased its Intown and Downtown SPC collections. Both lines feature embossed, synchronized surfaces and enhanced bevels, which allow for an authentic hardwood look and feel. They also feature a super-strong Scratch Shield Max that is extra wear and stain resistant, as well as a mold-resistant, Made-in-USA, pre-attached backing that allows for an additional sound barrier, sound absorption and softness underfoot.
The company also featured its new NovoCore Q, a waterproof, multi-layered, engineered vinyl flooring that aims to solve the acoustical challenges associated with other vinyl flooring options. NovoCore Q displays come with a built-in sound test demo for dealers to easily tell its sound-deadening story next to competing flooring materials.
Newbies mix it up
Much of the rigid core flooring category is composed of veteran flooring brands—but those that historically provided carpet, hardwood or laminate. However, these brands have transformed their businesses to tap the unprecedented growth in rigid core flooring and used their expertise to bring something unique to the category.
From dabbling in hard surfaces a few years ago, The Dixie Group, for example, has turned into a full-service supplier, with representation in luxury vinyl. At Surfaces, the company featured a WPC plank, Trucor Pinnacle, which measures 12 inches wide x 94 inches long, and serves as an example of the innovative offerings it is striving for. “We have to create products others don’t want to and solve a problem for that consumer,” said T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division of TDG. “We have to make the most beautiful products in the market. If we do that, we will continue to have success.”
Stanton Carpet was one of the last carpet mills to make the transition to hard surfaces. But when it did, it went for it. “We took two years to ramp up and spent a long time developing this program,” said Jonathan Cohen, CEO, as he introduced 36 new SKUs for 2022, including 12 tile looks. In addition, Stanton showed distressed looks, concrete looks and herringbone visuals. “We feel good about what we are introducing,” Cohen added.
At Surfaces, Southwind touted Liberty Plank, a domestically made 7 1/2 x 60-inch-long SPC that features a 20-mil wear layer.
Dream Weaver, the retail brand of Engineered Floors, showed off four new products in its Triumph SPC line. Triumph, a plank format collection, offers realistic wood visuals and is available in a wide range of price points as well as multiple widths and lengths. Adventure II by Triumph, for example, features a 22-mil wear layer and can be installed over existing floors. It comes in nine colors.
Traditional hardwood flooring specialists are also devoting more attention to the category. Case in point is AHF Products, the largest supplier of well-known hardwood flooring brands, which made it known that it intends to be a much larger player in SPC. At the show, the company’s unveiled Classic Plus and Reserve. “We’re experts in wood, so that translates well into the SPC products we’re rolling out,” explained Sara Babinski, senior design manager. “Not only do we have a legacy in that field, but we also see what’s trending in some of our new wood introductions. I have applied all that knowledge to our SPC collections as well.”
At the Johnson Hardwood flooring booth, a featured product (Royal Palace) installed on the showroom floor was a herringbone pattern. Billy Ko, president, said visitors were hard pressed to discern between the rigid core line and genuine hardwood. “It’s actually an SPC product,” he said. “There are very few repeats in the line, and it’s easy to install. There are four planks in a box, with left and right-side panels all in a single box. Not a lot of herringbone patterns come with matching planks.”
In that same vein, Provenza has translated some of its top-selling hardwood visuals such as those found in its handcrafted Volterra line of engineered hardwood into winning WPC visuals. “Sales of our LVP products are off the charts,” said Ron Sadri, principal owner, citing popular collections like Moda Living. But it’s not just wood looks that are driving product development at Provenza. “We also have stone-look patterns, limestone as well as marble looks we are coming out with. These will be 18 x 36 patterns across 10 to 14 colors.”
L.W. Mountain, a private-label hardwood supplier, has also expanded into SPC. “We will be rolling out a lightweight SPC product this quarter,” explained Jacob Mikatich, president of sales. “It still has stone in the core, but it also includes a foaming agent to keep the weight (and costs) down so we can pass those savings on to our customers. It will debut in five new colors. We’re also launching a commercial dryback product, 2.5mm thick with a 20-mil wear layer in six different colors. It’s for our customers who specialize in property management.”
L.W. Mountain has also developed a complementary line of moldings and accessories to coordinate with its resilient offerings.
Another relatively new entrant to the SPC/rigid core sector is Inhaus, primarily known as a German laminate flooring producer. Inhaus put the spotlight on its Sono Eclipse and Elandura non-PVC rigid core offerings based on its signature Ceramin powder technology. “Sono Eclipse represents the latest technology where we take the finish, which is cured with lacquer UV rays, then we cure it underneath,” Welbourn explained. “What this allows us to do is control the gloss levels. It gives it a matte finish and a nice feel. It doesn’t feel like a PVC film, it’s very soft.”
(Look for additional resilient coverage from Surfaces in future issues of FCNews).