Laminate: State of the Industry 2023

Home Featured Post Laminate: State of the Industry 2023

Those who expected the suddenly resurgent U.S. laminate flooring market to cool once the supply of imported SPC, LVT and WPC returned to more normal, pre-COVID-19 levels might be somewhat surprised how the momentum has continued. But when you talk to proponents of laminate flooring—suppliers and marketers that have achieved success with the category even when it may not have been popular—those executives are not the least bit surprised.

“Laminate flooring is experiencing a resurgence in popularity,” said Randy McKellar, marketing manager, Lions Floor.

He cited several key factors, including modern manufacturing techniques, which have “greatly improved the aesthetics of laminate flooring, allowing it to closely mimic the appearance of natural materials like hardwood, stone or tile. Its durability and wear resistance also make it ideal for high-traffic areas, while its affordability appeals to budget-conscious consumers. These qualities have led to the renewed popularity of laminate flooring among homeowners and commercial spaces alike.”

Other industry observers agree. “Laminate is making a resurgence for sure,” said Brian Parker, vice president of product management for AHF Products. “SPC has been the fastest growing category for about seven years, but over the past few years laminate has also been growing quickly. It now has a waterproof performance story to it and there’s special interest in domestic supply—you don’t have to deal with container shortages, shipping fees, etc., so you get a made-in-the-USA product that’s waterproof.”

That resurgence, proponents say, have opened the door to new opportunities. “Laminate is most certainly a hot category right now and we’ve been well positioned to take market share,” said Ted Rocha, executive vice president, SLCC Flooring. “No matter where I travel around the country, I continue to hear about the migration back to laminate. I credit the fact that laminates have caught up to the resilient category with the waterproof/water-resistant story. Also, the visuals have become so sophisticated and realistic, which is most meaningful to today’s consumer.”

Floor covering distributors agree. “We all know that laminate provides the most realistic visual and aesthetics as an alternative to wood,” said Jeff Striegel, president of Elias Wilf, a top 20 wholesaler. “It also typically has better scratch resistance and some performance characteristics as a product.”

Mohawk continues to expand its signature RevWood line to include more colors, designs, performance options and price points.

Across the board, the investments suppliers are making to elevate both performance and visuals reflect their faith that those investments will continue to pay big dividends moving forward. Take Mohawk, for example. Over the past two-plus years the company has poured millions in its laminate plants in support of new technologies and additional capacity at its domestic production facilities.

“I believe our laminate products have a great selling story against SPC and LVT when it comes to durability and visuals,” said David Moore, senior product director, wood and laminate, Mohawk. “Our hope is that our customers got a taste of these products and are extremely satisfied with them—and that benefit will play itself out throughout 2023.”

In order to feed ongoing demand for the product, laminate suppliers are expanding their offerings to not only give consumers and end users more options, but to also further differentiate themselves from the pack. BHW Floors, for example, is expanding its offerings to further pique interest among buyers. “We saw a very heavy demand increase last year and knew we needed to add laminate to our portfolio,” said Jason Grant, executive vice president. “We introduced the Kingston collection this year at Surfaces and immediately had a great response. We are continually monitoring our inventory levels and growing them as the demand increases.”

Inhaus, maker of the popular Lamdura line, also bolstered its lineup in a move to seize more share. This included expanding its signature line to feature different tiers. “All three lines in the collection are now water resistant, anti-microbial and embossed in register,” said Derek Welbourn, CEO. “We have also added several trendy new colors across the lineup to give dealers and distributors more options.”

Sequoia XL planks from Eternity Flooring, which are available in 6-foot-long x 9 1/2-inch-wide planks, aim to mimic real wood.

Other major suppliers, including Eternity Flooring and Mannington, have also amped up their production facilities and technological capabilities. In Mannington’s case, the company has invested in digital printing technologies that allow it to significantly improve the fidelity of the design layer of the product to more accurately render genuine wood looks. In that same vein, Eternity has leveraged its expertise in laminate flooring production to create high-performance products. “Right now there’s a big waterproof laminate craze going, with so many products coming onto the market,” said Isaac Lee, marketing and product development manager at Eternity. “But we believe we have something that has the least amount of swell rate compared to other waterproof laminate floors on the market.”

Dubbed Sequoia XL, the 6-foot-long planks tout optimal waterproof performance with an AC6 rating for wear and dent resistance—the highest rating currently available. Made in Spain, the products also boast trendy designs, including wood visuals that offer up to 24 variations before you see a pattern repeat.

Bolstering capacity, inventories

Lions Floor’s Comfort Heights is 12mm for added stability, excellent sound absorption and a substantial underfoot feel.

In anticipation of continued demand for the product, laminate suppliers are not only shoring up existing capacity but also expanding stateside warehousing so dealers and distributors have ready access.

“To ensure consistent supply and inventories, Lions Floor is hyper-focused on building strong supplier relationships,” McKellar stated. “This has been our mantra since inception. By monitoring market conditions, implementing effective inventory planning and forecasting techniques, we are able to stay ahead of the game. But it doesn’t stop there. We work closely with our suppliers to continuously optimize production and efficiency in logistics in our supply chain processes to stay ahead of sales.”

In that same vein, SLCC is taking its own steps to ensure consistent supply. “We’ve been able to keep up with demand by keeping deep inventory in all of our warehouses,” Rocha stated. “SLCC has an incredible logistics team whose primary focus is to ensure we do not run out of inventory at any of our distribution centers.”

Then there’s Germany-based Classen, which specializes high-quality, waterproof laminate flooring products. The company is allocating more capacity out of its state-of-the art facility, which boasts high-tech industrial digital printing and embossing capabilities, to service the U.S. market. The company is banking on these technologies to attract producers in the U.S. who might be interested in private label programs. “We see the opportunities growing in North America,” said Moritz Menier, Classen’s new vice president of business development for North America. “That’s why we have invested so heavily in warehousing and logistics systems here in the U.S.”

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May 22/29, 2023

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