Armstrong's Highland Park Collection -- the first to incorporate the company's new MasterWorks Technology design process of replicating the look of fiber, stone, marble, and wood -- combines photographic imaging with the dimension and embossed texture of high-resolution rotogravure printing.

Lonseal says its metallic-look Lonplate I Titanium -- featuring improved slip-resistance and sound-reduction properties -- is the company's toughest resilient sheet product.
Resilient floors have been a mainstay of the floor covering world for so long that some in the industry take for granted the unique mix of benefits the product offers end users. But if pressed, few would argue that any other flooring product category succeeds to the degree that resilient does in combining high style and textural realism with comfort underfoot and easy maintenance.

Georgetown, one of five new designs Congoleum has added to its flagship Ultima sheet product line, features a wear surface reinforced with micro-sized nylon particles and aluminum oxide to enhance scratch resistance, ease of maintenance and impact resistance.
In recent years, rapid and radical innovation in certain alternative flooring products has captured the attention and imagination of consumers and industry professionals alike. But despite the absence of extreme changes in the product's construction and performance characteristics, the resilient flooring category has by and large maintained its slice of the overall floor covering pie.

New from Metroflor for 2003 is Solidity, a 1/6-inch-thick solid vinyl tile with deep embossing styled to emulate the look of large-format ceramic and stone tiles.
In fact, according to a newly released Market Trends Study commissioned by NFT, 32 percent of floor covering dealers expect residential luxury vinyl tile (LVT) sales to increase over the next two years while only 9 percent anticipate a decrease.

Mannington's Canyon View resilient floor pattern was developed to capture the look of expensive natural materials -- such as stone, slate and marble -- without the high price and demanding maintenance requirements.
When asked about sheet vinyl, 29 percent of participating retailers project a sales increase and an additional 49 percent expect the category to remain stable at the very least. Furthermore, those who expect sales increases in the LVT and sheet vinyl categories on average anticipate a 15 percent boost through the end of 2004.

Available in 3-by-36-inch planks, Lorraine Oak from Nafco's Better Living Collection lends itself to installation options -- such as a herringbone configuration -- not typically associated with resilient flooring.
Perhaps anyone who levels the charge that resilient, in terms of headline-grabbing product enhancements, has not kept pace with alternative flooring products may be failing to realize that resilient manufacturers have largely perfected their formula. As the old adage advises -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Resilient's hygienic properties and durability make the product well suited for a variety of institutional applications, including healthcare environments. Pictured here is noraplan mega from Freudenberg Building Systems' nora Rubber Flooring line.
Providing solutions the consumer demands

Mention the term "resilient flooring," and most of today's consumers think in terms of vinyl-based products. However, as those close to the industry realize, the resilient category also includes rubber floors, linoleum, asphalt tile and, some would argue, cork flooring.

Each of the aforementioned types of floors shares a variety of product characteristics in common. Though they provide a relatively firm surface, these materials also have the capacity to compress slightly under the weight of footfalls and subsequently bounce back to their original surface profile. It is this "give" in the product's structure that creates the comfort-underfoot characteristics for which resilient flooring is widely known.

In addition, resilient flooring is durable and easily cleaned -- typically, a damp mop is all that is necessary to maintain the product. Sheet vinyl is available in rolls as wide as 12 feet, which allows the product to be installed in a single piece for many kitchen, bathroom and entryway applications. When the room size makes this impractical, sections of the product can be "welded" together with specialized seam sealers.

In addition, many manufacturers of vinyl tile precision grind the edges of their products to ensure a tight fit between each tile. These tight seams, or lack of seams in the case of sheet vinyl, ease end user maintenance requirements because dirt and grit have no nooks and crannies in which to be trapped.

Tarkett's Preference Plus sheet flooring line, shown here in the textured slate Bayhill pattern, features the TruTex surface texturing technology that the company developed to enhance the tactile realism of its resilient products.
Resilient flooring also is prized for its durability. Rubber flooring, for instance, is essentially impervious to the normal wear and tear of foot traffic. Vinyl varieties derive their durability from a wearlayer usually composed of clear vinyl resin. Typically, the thicker the wearleayer, the more durable the floor will be.

Another key to the success of resilient flooring lies in its broad range of colors and styles. With the possible exception of laminate products, resilient is virtually the only available flooring type that can be manufactured to convincingly emulate the look of competing products including hardwood, stone and ceramic tile. In addition, chemical and mechanical embossing techniques allow resilient manufacturers to replicate the textures, grains and undulations of natural flooring materials.

More recent advances

When it comes to high-profile technical advancements, resilient has often flown beneath the radar compared to some of the trendier flooring products now in vogue.

Certain specialty resilient products, such as Roppe's ESD Control Flooring, provide static electricity control throughout sensitive work environments by keeping body voltage generation at minimum levels.
But that's not to say that resilient hasn't seen its share of product improvements in recent years.

Vinyl floors, for example, have traditionally been available with high-gloss finishes. But more recently, many leading manufacturers have introduced new low-gloss products to the marketplace. In most instances, the floor's gloss is achieved by adding a urethane on top of the wearlayer.

These urethanes are often as durable as the urethane finishes that are applied to hardwood floors. Additionally, vinyl flooring suppliers have lavished much attention over the past decade on successfully enhancing their products' resistance to gouging, tearing and staining.

Manufacturers have also made great strides in enhancing the slip resistance of their products and reducing the conductivity of static electricity, features that can be particularly important in commercial settings but no less prized in the residential environment.

Styling: a key ingredient in the resilient formula

In the final analysis, the styling of resilient flooring is at least as important to its popularity as its considerable performance characteristics. The product’s myriad designs and limitless color combinations make resilient a viable option for any interior decor.

Research underscores the important role resilient styling plays in the minds of flooring consumers. According to the NFT Market Trends Study referenced previously, retailers say that their residential flooring customers rate sheet vinyl’s selection/styling higher than any other attribute of the product.

One look at the photos of newly released products that accompany this article may be enough to convince you why consumers feel as they do about resilient styling. If not, perhaps it's time to seriously review some of the thousands of SKUs available through your preferred resilient suppliers.

Resilient flooring may not be the newest or sexiest type of flooring currently available, but it is a workhorse product that consistently sells year after year. Add up the all of the advantages associated with its product characteristics, and it's easy to see why resilient remains a popular choice among U.S. flooring consumers.