At the Shaw Network Convention and at Surfaces, Piet Dossche, executive vice president of hard surface of Shaw Industries and president of USFloors, introduced COREtec Stone, a waterproof, crack-proof, and indentation-proof flooring that is intended to offer the look of tile and stone with easier installation. We connected with Dossche about the technology. You can view the interview on—just click on multimedia then on videos. Here are some excerpts of that conversation.

TF: You’re rolling out COREtec Stone. Talk about that.

Dossche: In a nutshell, it’s an installation solution that looks like ceramic tile. What do I mean by that? Our innovations are always based on solutions. We looked at ceramic tile markets. We at Shaw have a presence, albeit a small one, in that segment, and we listened to our customers. What did we hear? Issues with installation. Issues with labor. A lack of labor. The cost of installation. The complexity of installing ceramic tiles and the time it takes to get ceramic tile installations done—four or five weeks out. Transporting ceramic tile, it breaks.

We said, “What if we develop a composite solution that takes away all those issues and at the same time make sure that the decors mimic ceramic tile and are really focused on the beauty of ceramic, marble, limestone, granites, and concrete looks?” We did that with COREtec Stone, and the retailers that we have met have embraced it because it is a solution to problems that they are battling with every day.

TF: How does the technology differ from ceramic tile?

Dossche: Ceramic tile is made out of clay that’s baked and has a digital print on top of it and has a glaze finish. For COREtec Stone, instead of clay, we use the composite core. Instead of digital printing, we apply print film. Instead of the glaze, we add a wear layer. Both products are manmade products. So, from that point of view, they’re equal.

TF: Talk about the installation component.

Dossche: COREtec Stone can be installed directly over the existing floor and installed as a floating floor. When you drop something on it, it doesn’t break. It doesn’t break in transport and can be transported horizontally. It is warm and it has a cork underlayment. It can be installed in one day, so you don’t have to go back to put the grout line in there because the grout line is already profiled into the products. This quick, easy installation is taking away a lot of the challenges that ceramic has.

We are not here to dethrone ceramic tile. It is a great product, but we are here to give the consumer an option. “Mrs. Consumer, do you want the ceramic, or do you want the composite? Do you want the more complicated hassle, or do you want ease of installation?” That is what COREtec Stone is all about.

TF: How will retailers merchandise this product?

Dossche: We are not positioning this product in the LVT [luxury vinyl tile] segment of the store. It’s not an LVT. When a consumer walks in and she’s looking for ceramic tile, she goes to that area of the store and now she can choose. She can choose between the traditional tile or this new composite tile. She will see the features and the benefits and the pros and the cons, and our belief that this is going to make a tremendous inroad into that segment—disrupt the market.

TF: How is this going to aid the installer shortage?

Dossche: There are fewer and fewer installers, and it’s only going to get worse. We as an industry need to find solutions. We need to come up with products that are more installation-friendly. Our product can be installed by the people who install COREtec or laminate or wood floors because it’s a floating click system. You don’t have to have a ceramic tile specialist involved in the installation.

TF: How will pricing compare?

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Dossche: People are pretty much familiar with the price of COREtec. It’s all about an installed price. COREtec Stone will be somewhat more expensive than porcelain and ceramic tile at retail. However, [with ceramic tile] if you start adding in the demolition of the existing floor, leveling, installation, grouts, and then coming back the next day to seal the grout so that it doesn’t stain, COREtec Stone is a better value proposition for the consumer and the dealer. More installations can be done faster.