The resilient flooring sector continues to boom, having grown from $2.3 billion in 2003 to over $7 billion 2020. With it, resilient flooring manufacturers have invested a lot into research and product development to keep creating products that will answer consumer needs.

Great things have happened in the areas of innovation that have helped resilient gain steam over the last decade.

“First of all, there was no question that for a long, long time, aesthetics have been what has really helped our products have the leadership role they’ve had,” said Dean Thompson, president of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI). “What’s happened is that through innovation in digital printing and innovation in design, our products are vastly superior to what those were a few years ago.”

According to John Rietveldt, CEO, I4F, cutting-edge digital printing technologies are enabling flooring manufacturers to create unique designs, achieve superior optical quality and avoid unnecessary inventory on pre-printed materials. These digital printing technologies are at the forefront of the flooring industry, enabling direct printing on a wide range of different core boards, as well as on PVC films.

“Digital printing will play a more crucial role in the future of flooring as it enables unlimited design flexibility and can be applied to a wide range of materials,” Rietveldt said. “This facilitates faster response times to market demands and trends while reducing material waste.”

Innovations in installation, such as the click and locking systems for rigid-core products, for example, have made these floors easier to install and taken the cost out of installation. 

“Innovation in this category of flooring has been phenomenal—and has happened at an incredible rate — in recent years,” said Per Nygren, executive vice president, Välinge Innovation.  

Innovations in chemistry of wear layers have developed products with superior performance.

“In the industry, there’ve been hundreds of millions of dollars that have been invested to sustain the long-term value of this category on the market,” Thompson said. 

RFCI has conducted some research in partnership with the Shelton Group, a sustainability marketing firm in Knoxville, Tennessee, to discover exactly what messaging is resonating with consumers of resilient floors now. 

“Sustainability is really now a mainstream with consumers concerned about health, indoor air quality, and waste—those are all primary product preferences and purchasing drivers for consumers,” Thompson said. “That’s what were working on was pre-COVID, but now because of COVID, it has even more greatly impacted the concern for the overall health of people.”

RFCI’s data shows that two-thirds of Americans were concerned about indoor air quality pre-pandemic and that 41% of Americans want to be perceived as people who are purchasing eco-friendly products. The RFCI took that research to develop three pillars of communications to help explain the benefits of resilient flooring: 

Mindful Manufacturing: Discusses how RFCI members are committed to their sourcing, designing and creating products that reflect sustainability. 

Living Well: Talks about wellbeing and curating products that are designed with health in mind so that consumers can live in cleaner, healthier environments. 

Made for Life: Ensures resilient products are designed and built to provide consumers the security of knowing that they are investing in floors that will be protected with the ultimate in durability and performance in their homes over time.