There is so much to look forward to for multilayer flooring in 2020. With an average annual growth rate around 20%, industry leaders are projecting that while dollar sales may be down a bit for the year, the industry will make up with it in units since the tariffs are removed.
“Before I came to be Domotex, I was pretty optimistic about 2020,” said Harlan Stone, CEO, HMTX, from the Hannover show in January. “Halfway through the show, I am a super optimist. 2019 was a tough year, a lot of complexity, a lot of things to solve. All those are behind us now. There has been massive adoption from our new and most innovative products from our global customer base. If we see the same thing in North America, we are off to the races.”
Tariff exclusion benefits are scheduled to last at least through September 2020, and leaders are hopeful they will end up being permanent.
“Having the 25% removed for the fastest-growing product category is not only going to have a good influence for us as manufacturers, it benefits consumers,” said Russ Rogg, president of Metroflor. “Now the product they really wanted in the first place will not be unfairly paralyzed.”
Another angle to the category’s optimism comes from Assure Certified, a new program launched by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) and SCS Global Services to ensure the continued growth and popularity of rigid core LVT marketed and sold in North America.
“As part of our mission to support the interest of resilient flooring, RFCI and member manufacturers determined there was an urgent need to establish industry-wide standards for rigid core LVT quality, no matter where it’s made,” said Dean Thompson, president and CEO of RFCI.
Rigid Core LVT is the fastest-growing resilient flooring category. It has evolved quickly from an innovative multilayer resilient concept – first as expanded polymer core (also called WPC), and quickly adding solid polymer core (SPC) – to the popular, resilient waterproof flooring solution offered by many brands.
SCS is an international leader in third-party certification and standards development, will provide certification services and direct the testing protocol. This includes an assessment of the manufacturing quality control procedure for material suppliers, product traceability, chain of custody, internal QC testing and segregation of non-conforming products and materials. It also includes an on-site manufacturing facility audit, as well as performance testing in compliance with the rigid core ASTM standard, testing for heavy metals and ortho-phthalates content, and FloorScore® testing for indoor air quality.
FloorScore, another RFCI program managed by SCS Global Services, is the industry’s most widely recognized indoor air quality (IAQ) certification standard for hard surface flooring materials, adhesives, and underlayments.
“The standards for the Assure Certified program will be the best protection and quality assurance for all Rigid Core manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, retailers and, of course, consumers and end users,” Thompson said.
“I’m super excited about the Assure certified label,” Stone said. “That label that the RFCA decided to launch on January 1st came from the merger between the MFA, which I led from its inception until it worked for the RFC. As a matter of fact, that was an important term of the of condition of our merger. We think Dean and his team have done a super job, and I think it’s going to have immense impact.”
Starting in January, information about Assured Certified became available on the RFCI.com site and the SCSGlobalServices.com site.
“I’m hoping that in a few years from now, if we talk about how it’s just as important as FloorScore and it really helps to create confidence in our consumer so that as this category continues to explode, they know the difference between a fairly made and a safe product versus something that may not be,” Stone said.
Innovations are a key driver of success in the category with manufacturers launching a variety of new technologies.
CFL’s Tenacity engineered stone flooring, which features the durable TriTec finish, is gaining a simplified version, Tenacity Essential. This collection is aimed at distributors who wanted a more cost-conscious version of the Tenacity product while will still offering excellent scratch, stain and wear resistance.
“It’s using the same core technology, but instead of using the TriTec finish, we use a PET coating,” said Jerome Nurenberg, marketing director, CFL. “It’s still cruelty and plasticizer free, so you have the exact same story minus the TriTec surface, so it’s not quite as scratch and stain resilient, but it’s cheaper.”
COREtec introduced Grande, an extra-large WPC product intended for large, open spaces. Grande measures up to 82 inches in length and 9 inches wide and comes in random standard lengths.
“One of the biggest trends in wood, which is the product that we all want to emulate, is 5/8 of an inch thick,” said Natalie Cady, director of category management, USFloors. “It transitions beautifully to other platforms in the house as well as offers that desire. thickness. This allows our WPC products to get to that 15 mm—there is no other resilient platform that can get that thick.”
Välinge launched a new locking system for enhanced water resistance at Domotex in Hannover. With the new system 5G Hydroguard, manufacturers will now be able to make floors with enhanced water resistance by preventing water from penetrating into the seams of the floor panels.
“This is the first truly water resistant two-piece fold down system on the market,” says Per Nygren, executive vice president, Välinge Innovation. “With greater protection to withstand the mess of everyday chaos such as spills, this innovation makes floors both incredibly easy to install and to live with.”