Whether sheet goods or tile products, resilient floor manufacturers are mounting tremendous efforts to best portray natural products in their lines. "We're trying to get as close as possible to depict realism using our new TruTex Innovative Surfacing system," says George Graboshas, Domco Tarkett Residential vice president of styling.
"Now that we've reached a sophisticated level of realism, the customer has to feel or touch [the floor] to find out if it is made of vinyl or a natural product," he adds.
According to Joe Amato, Mannington's director of residential styling, we're seeing a natural trend to soft surfaces in residential resilient floors with the looks of cork, wicker, linen, and animal skins.
Emerging now in the resilient segment is styling unique unto itself, rather products that try to emulate the look of stone, tile, wood, or other natural materials. The new trend encompasses an all-over look without grout lines. Textures are used to create a surface disruption for a special effect.
"Resilient offers a warm, casual feel," says Amato. The beauty of resilient floors, he adds, is that "vinyl can look in whatever way you want it to look like." As far as color trends, Amato says the warm palette is strong and it's going redder. Blues are moving into the green area of the spectrum. Purple and browns are maintaining their popularity.
According to Graboshas, resilient flooring is the flooring product with the greatest capacity for creating an effect or dimension. New technological advances, he adds, are needed if the resilient segment is to advance its position and increase its share of the floor covering product mix.
Some of these technological advances have already been developed. Congoleum, for example, was recently awarded a U.S. patent that protects the technology used in the creation of the company's wear surfaces, particularly in the Ultima line and its DuraStone surface glaze. Congoleum's achievement is notable as the first industry patent awarded for a floor covering that utilizes texture and nanotechnology.
What follows is a recap of some of the new or recently introduced residential and commercial resilient floor covering products in the marketplace.
For its Solarian Urban Setting resilient line, Armstrong World Industries (Residential) has unveiled a Crocodile design pattern. Crocodile features fluctuating colors and raised textures reminiscent of real animal skin. Meant for use in family rooms, kitchens, formal libraries and spas, Crocodile comes in six colors balanced between warm neutrals and deep, rich hues. Available colors include Albino, a pearly white; Nile Black, a basic black; Baton Rouge, a Bordeaux; Swamp, an iridescent taupe; Delta, an earthy brown; and Everglade, a deep green. Crocodile was introduced through specialty flooring retailers nationwide in spring 2002.
Centiva has released the Harmony collection, the newest line in the Event series. Harmony features RiverRock, DesertDune, Good Ole Woods, and Bamboos to create many different styles of natural-looking floor patterns. The products achieve the look of woods and stones in a total of 21 SKUs. RiverRock and DesertDune are both available in five SKUs in 18-inch-square format. Sandstone comes in two SKUs in 12-by-18-inch size. Bamboo is available in two SKUs in 4-by-36- and 36-inch-square formats. Good Ole Woods is available in nine SKUs, from Natural Pecan to Antique Nut, in 4-by-36- and 36-by-36-inch formats.
Finally, Domco has added a new design in four colors to its builder-grade Customflor Basic product. The new additions in Vintage with the Trutex Surface are Sonora, Westdale and Homestead. Sonora is a 12-inch-square tile look with a randomly textured rugged look and irregular matte grout lines. Westdale features five warm colors in a tumbled slate tile look. Homestead offers a modular tile look with the veining associated with ceramic tile.
Specifically, the patterns include French Terrace, a rustic stone look with rough edges and grout lines; Timbercrest, a warm wood look in golden honey or auburn color; Aria, a 9-inch limestone tile with subtle color variations and thin grout lines; San Marino, a stone look in 12-inch tiles in earthy colors; and Sarasota, a three-inch tumbled stone pattern in pale earthtones. Benchmark features NatureForm embossing, a mid-gloss vinyl wearlayer for easy maintenance, an option of installation methods, and a six-year warranty for wear, moisture damage and defects.
Both StatProtect and StatDefend can be used in nearly any application, from clean rooms and computer rooms to electronics, fiber optics and pharmaceutical manufacturing applications. The ESD flooring systems are available in two standard electric-resistance levels -- conductive vinyl tile and static dissipative vinyl tile -- and are designed to withstand the weight of heavy equipment without allowing permanent indentation.
Swiff-Train Co., for its part, released new colors and styles in its Winton Tile line. Recipient lines of the new hues are Venetian Stone Vinyl Tile, the Aberdeen Vinyl Plank Collection and the new Natural Vinyl Plank Collection. Swiff-Train also offers Wood Classic Vinyl Plank, Metallic Vinyl Tile and Conductive Tile by EarthWerks.
Arguably, two of the boldest Contours designs are Casada Slate and Falls Bridge. Casada Slate is a 12-inch-square slate tile design with uneven surface texture and fossilized color striations. A decorative key design distinguishes Falls Bridge, an 18-inch-square tile. The mosaic tile inset features deep color to complement the tile's primary color. The inset is surrounded by a fleur de lis border. Other additions include Rochelle, featuring a modular layout with rectangular and square tiles in a repeating pattern, and three ceramic tile block designs in three scales.
Rounding out the resilient highlights of 2002, VPI Flooring Products expanded its product selection via three new colors in its ESD Control Vinyl tile line. The addition of red, yellow and blue brings VPI's tile options to 17 colors. These new colors of Conductile static conductive vinyl tile were chosen to provide high visibility to offset safety zones and border areas. ESD Control is available in 12-inch MicroSquared tiles and 3-by-36-inch feature strips.
VPI Solid Vinyl ESD Control tile retains its conductivity indefinitely and requires no special waxes, wear layer or anti-stats to maintain its ESD performance, according to the company. The tiles keep voltages on personnel well under 30 volts, and can endure loads of up to 2,500 psi, VPI said.