Quick-Step’s Marseille Maple, part of the Veresque collection of laminate flooring.

Over one-third (35%) of respondents in theNational Floor Trends/Clear Seas Research 2010 Laminate Flooring Market Study expect category sales to increase on the residential side in 2010. The group also felt that commercial segment sales will fall this year.

The ever-increasing number of big-box stores continues to affect the laminate flooring business, along with eroding profit margins and increasing competition from flooring channels.

Over three in five respondents indicate consumers view laminate flooring products as offering high durability, followed by over one-third indicating high selection/style. Less than one-third indicate laminate flooring has high overall appeal, quality and price.(Chart 1)

Laminate flooring is seen as a profitable alternative by an increasing amount of retailers and their customers. Sixty-six percent of the study’s respondents see laminate floors as a profitable alternative to wood flooring and 54 percent versus vinyl flooring. Laminate flooring is viewed as less of an alternative to ceramic and no real alternative to stone.

Laminate flooring sales are 13 per month with an average ticket amount of $1,488 and an average price per square foot of $4.38. Furthermore, survey participants report average sales figures of $98,494, which extends the continual drop since 2004 when respondents reported average sales of $325,000. However the average size of laminate flooring jobs continues to grow from 379 sq. ft. in 2007 to 439 sq. ft. in 2010.

Our panelists devote an average of 16% of their showroom space to laminate flooring. Glueless installation (88%) accounts for most sales with adhesive installs at 12%.

The top selling brands, according to respondents, are Quick-Step, 19%; Shaw, 16%; Mohawk, 13%; Mannington and Wilsonart Flooring at 11% each; and Pergo, 9%.

Product reliability and quality (72%) is the top attribute respondents said they use to determine whether they will promote/sell a particular brand of laminate flooring, followed by ease of installation/maintenance (56%).(Chart 2)

Respondents noted that trained salespeople in the showroom are key to selling laminate flooring. They are major influencers in the buying process for customers; respondents believe they influence customers to purchase different brands of laminate at 40% and even guide them to other flooring product types when they feel it will be a better fit (41%).

The frequency of consumer complaints has largely remained the same for laminate products compared to the other flooring categories: 3% of respondents always have complaints; 19% often have complaints; 73%, seldom have complaints; and 5% never have complaints.  Significantly fewer respondents seldom have complaints than in 2008.

The top concerns from consumers are water/moisture resistance/humidity, temperature changes, 22%; noise/sound of flooring, 17%; scratching/marking floors, 17%; maintenance/care/cleaning, 11%; performance/durability/longevity, 6%; looks/appearance, 6%; joint opening/gapping/seams showing, peaking, movement, 4%; buckling, warping, swelling, cupping, uneven, 4%; and hard to install, 3%.

The challenges facing laminate flooring manufacturers in the next two years are believed to be product innovation and combating alternative hard surface flooring.