Mansfield, Mass.— Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) presents some major opportunities for the specialty flooring retailer. Floor Trends recently connected with Bill Prescott, executive vice president, sales, of leading flooring distributor Belknap White Group, to discuss why the category is so hot and what how retailers can capitalize on it in 2018.

FT: What's your outlook for the click LVT market in 2018?

Prescott: Very strong. It has been a growing category for us and we expect that trend to continue in 2018.

FT: Why are we seeing an uptick in demand?

Prescott: We are seeing an uptick in demand because installation is relatively quick and easy, especially for do-it-yourself homebuyers. Also, LVT production technology continues to improve, resulting in visuals that are rich and crisp. Often to a standard consumer, the looks are indistinguishable from the woods or stones they are meant to replicate.

FT: Are there regions or markets that are seeing greater use of these materials?

Prescott: While these types of products are obviously attractive to homeowners looking for quick and relatively inexpensive installation, we see them as excellent products for high rise and multi residential. Installation can be done quickly because of the locking mechanisms that do not require adhesive, and because, in the case of click LVTs, the products do not need to acclimate. These products can also reduce noise and subfloor prep requirements. For example, Armstrong’s Luxe with Rigid Core is comprised of thick, sturdy planks with an attached cork back that helps lessen sound transmission, can bridge minor subfloor irregularities and eliminates the need for a separate sound-deadening underlayment.

FT: What trends are you seeing in click LVT?

Prescott: As with all LVT, wood looks are popular, especially in wide widths. Popular products in Armstrong’s Luxe with Rigid Core series, for example, are 6 inches wide by 48 inches long. Planks in general are the preferred format. We are seeing non-wood looks more and more in plank formats, such as plank concretes.

FT: What innovations are you most excited about?

Prescott: As with any product, innovation is key, especially when it comes to wear and durability. We are very excited about Armstrong’s new Pryzm series, which offers ultimate dent, scratch and stain resistance and is 100% waterproof. Armstrong is so confident in the product’s performance, it has a lifetime warranty for residential use and 15 years for commercial applications. Also, like Luxe with Rigid Core, the product features click or locking installation and a cork backing for comfort and sound absorption.

FT: What are margins like for the independent retailer?

Prescott: These are great products for retailers because their unique attributes differentiate them from the competition. Margins are strong and, especially in the case of Pryzm, there is nothing that compares on the market.

FT: How do these products help with the installer shortage?

Prescott: These products help with installer shortages because they speed the time for installation. In a multi unit building, for example, installation is very efficient because installers can move form unit to unit quickly without having to worry about additional sound proofing or adhesives.