Cover Story: The resilient product segment hits its stride

Altro Walkway 20 safety flooring
As attendees of Surfaces 2002 can attest, a new era in resilient flooring started earlier this year as manufacturers began bringing commercial product looks into the residential market. The segment's natural-look patterns will continue to attract consumer demand for the foreseeable future while new styles -- with layering, metallics and texturizing -- are on the horizon.

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.

Amtico's Priory Oak vinyl planks
Altrohas modernized the colors of the company's Altro Walkway 20 safety flooring, offering 18 colors in four palettes -- Relax, Energy, Warm and Cool -- to provide architects, designers and specifiers with the ability to select between natural tones, residential shades and bold colors. The flooring was developed for use in facilities and stores, and meets the current slip-resistance static coefficient of friction requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Altro also offers 12 contemporary colors in its heavy-duty Altro Designer 25 line.

Armstrong's Solarian Urban Settings in Crocodile
Amticohas developed Priory Oak, solid vinyl planks styled to replicate the authenticity of aged wood. The richness and color of the vinyl surface has been digitally re-mastered from wood used in 200-year-old church pews, to provide a worn visual effect with rural character. The pews are still in use today at the Priory in the grounds of Lancaster Castle in the north of England. Priory Oak is available in 4 1/2-by-36-inch planks.

BurkeMercer Flooring's Rouleau tile, treads and risers
Armstrong Commercial Floorshas added the new Metal and Chrome Metric Collections to its Natural Options line of luxury solid vinyl flooring. The company has also expanded the line's Wood, Rustico Wood and Stone Collections to add a variety of natural-looking textures. All of the new products are designed to be used individually or in combination with other Armstrong commercial floors. The Metal Collection offers six designs, four colors and three tile sizes, while the Chrome Metrics Collection offers four designs and six colors in a single tile size. The appearance of colors in the Chrome Metrics Collection shifts depending on the angle at which the floor is viewed.

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.

Congoleum Ultima sheet flooring in Key West design
BurkeMercer Flooring Products,manufacturer of rubber and vinyl flooring products, recently introduced Rouleau Tile, Treads and Risers. BurkeMercer features more than 25 color choices -- including black, light gray, dark gray, brown, taupe, and dark blue -- in its UniColor System for round raised-disc, slip-resistant flooring. The design and composition of Rouleau resists scuffing, gouging, cigarette burns, and most chemicals, the company says. In addition, Rouleau products conform to ADA requirements.

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.

Domco Vintage resilient flooring
Congoleum'sUltima line of resilient sheet flooring utilizes a patented manufacturing process that incorporates nanotechnology to produce a realistic, rugged feel in a durable floor. Ultima is available in 19 designs in 90 colorways and, according to Congoleum, is one of the most technologically advanced flooring products on the market.

Estrie's Desert Stone rubber flooring
Domcohas introduced new designs and colors -- 26 new SKUs in all -- to three resilient lines. The company has added three designs in 14 colorways to Vintage, featuring the TruTex Innovative Surfacing that debuted at Surfaces 2002. Domco has also enhanced its Cerama line with a tougher construction and two designs in eight colors.

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.

Flexco Contract solid vinyl tile
Estrie Products Internationalhas added an updated selection of colors to the Desert Stone line, and introduced the new Lakeland Slate to the company's Marathon Classic rubber flooring line. The 19-color palette in the Desert Stone line now encompasses 11 full tone-on-tone and eight complementary solids in a hammered finish. Desert Stone is ideal for high-traffic areas, Estrie says, and provides low noise characteristics in a rugged ADA-compliant smoke- and fire-resistant rubber flooring product. Lakeland Slate is composed of 20 nature-inspired colors chosen to create a slate-look finish. Both lines are available in Lazer Cut 17 13/16- and 35 11/16-inch-square tiles.

Forbo's Marmoleum
Flexcorecently debuted the new WoodTones collection of solid vinyl tile. The collection is available in an assortment of eight wood-look types, and is designed to complement commercial and residential environments. Flexco has also improved and expanded the company's Contract solid vinyl tile line to feature design and performance enhancements for use in high-traffic areas. Tough construction reduces maintenance to a minimum, making the tile ideal for healthcare, education and retail settings, the company says. Contract is available in four sizes and 20 colors with a pre-grooved option for heat welding applications.

Freudenberg's noraplan astro rubber flooring
Forbo Linoleum'sMarmoleum is a jute-backed floor made with all-natural materials such as linseed oil, resins and wood flour. In an effort to offer homeowners an extensive palette of colors and styles, Marmoleum is available in hues ranging from golds to blues to soothing lilacs. Mixed Greens, Grey-dations and Neutral colors are part of the 150-plus color options available with Marmoleum. The flooring can also be customized with multiple colors, standard inset geometric shapes, borders, and corners, Forbo says.

Johnsonite's Roundel Vibrance speckled rubber tile
Freudenberg Building Systems Inc.,manufacturers of nora Rubber Flooring, has introduced noraplan astro, a homogenous, smooth-surface rubber floor with a pattern that blends three color chips in a selection of 35 colors that ranging from soft earthtones to saturated accents. The product's broad color range was developed to give designers of commercial building interiors a large number of options for all market segments. New noraplan is manufactured in continuously vulcanized rolls, and is also available in tile.

Lonseal Londura safety vinyl flooring
Johnsonitethis year unveiled the Roundel Vibrance tile line -- a lighter, brighter version of Johnsonite's Speckled Rubber Tile. Vibrance consists of a palette of eight multi-colored designs in four surface-treatment options. This array of colorways is designed to enhance the interiors of daycare, healthcare, retail, and hospitality environments. Vibrance is a low-maintenance and wear-resistant product, the company says, adding that the formulation of the tile "self-heals" many scratches and abrasions and also provides slip resistance. Vibrance is available in 24-inch-square format, in colors including Aquamarine, Blue Skies, Wildflower, Sunburst, Citrus, Watermelon, Confetti, and Fireworks.

French Terrace from Mannington's new Benchmark sheet vinyl line
Lonsealsought to bring greater design appeal to safety vinyl flooring with its introduction of the Londura line. Londura's homogenous friction texture will not disintegrate from the floor over time, the company says, resulting in long-lasting slip resistance. In addition, the surface will not shred mops or leave behind debris from cleaning, says Lonseal, and the flooring includes a traction control that increases its friction coefficient when wet. Londura is available in an array of brush-stroke patterns, with custom colors also available.

Metroflor's Metro Design luxury vinyl tile in Stone
Manningtonpositioned Benchmark, a new resilient sheet vinyl line available in five patterns and 16 colors, between the company's Vega II and Performer products. Benchmark's patterns are styled to replicate the texture of natural stone and wood.

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.

Nafco's PermaStone luxury vinyl tile with GroutFit
Metroflorhad added Metro Design to the company's product line. Metro Design was developed to bring the looks of metal, wood, stone, and concrete to commercial luxury vinyl flooring. All patterns are 1/8-inch gauge with a heavy-duty 40 mil wearlayer. Four colors are available in the Metal Collection, six in the Stone Collection, four in the Concrete Collection, and eight in the Wood Collection. The Metal, Stone and Concrete Collections come in 18-inch-square tiles. The Wood Collection is produced in 4-by-36- and 8?-by-36-inch planks.

Roppe's ESD flooring
Also this year,Nafcolaunched the PermaStone luxury vinyl tile line. Styled to emulate the look and feel of ceramic, marble, slate, and stone, the 16-by-16-inch tiles feature a new realistic grout treatment called GroutFit. GroutFit features grout treatment on two sides of the tile, as opposed to all four sides, so that no seam is visible in the middle of the grout. Protected by the patented Tritonite wearlayer, PermaStone resists dirt buildup, scrapes and scratches, Nafco says. PermaStone comes with a 20-year warranty and a five-year Limited Light Commercial Warranty.

Tarkett's Contours resilient flooring
Roppetackled the challenge of managing electrostatic discharge (ESD) with its StatProtect and StatDefend vinyl tile flooring systems. Available in an array of colors and patterns, Roppe says the systems provide static control throughout the work environment by keeping body voltage generation at minimum levels.

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.

Tarket Sommer's Linosome Linoleum
Tarkett Inc.has doubled the number of SKUs in its Contours line with the TruTex Innovative Surfacing, bringing the collection to a total of 12 patterns in 54 colors. Additionally, Tarkett added one design each, in four colorways, to its flagship Signature collection, the mid-range Style Brite line and the entry-level Preference Plus line.

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.

VPI's ESD Control vinyl tile
TheTarkett Sommerline, under Domco Tarkett Commercial, includes Linosom, a linoleum surface previously sold under the Azrock brand; Eminent, featuring a natural color range for heavy-traffic areas; Granit, available for all types of interiors; and Optima, which is distinguished by a travertine design. Tarkett Sommer also manufactures a line of Luxury Vinyl Tile.

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.