RapidClic is part of EarthWerks’ new LinkWerks line.

More and more consumers are looking for one specific feature in their LVT floors: Installation ease. According to manufacturers, flooring customers are largely choosing click installation systems for residential projects and loose-lay formats for commercial installations. These options allow LVT to be installed quickly and easily, with the possibility of custom designs. Despite the influx of floating floor products, glue-down also remains popular.

CBC Flooring’s Halo.

“Our traditional glue-down tile visuals are [still] experiencing strong double-digit growth, said David Sheehan, Mannington’s vp resilient business. He added that his company has also seen solid growth for its Adura LVT featuring a click installation system. “The demand is simply amazing and we’ll be adding new SKUs in this format soon.”

Tigerwood from FreeFit.

According to Keith Pocock, coo of GTP International (which manufactures the FreeFit brand), the new focus on loose-lay has led to changes in LVT’s construction. “Because glueless is the new trend, planks and tiles are becoming thicker,” he said. “Last year people were still excited about products that had overlapped edges that adhered together. It’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone mention those products.”

Atlantic Cherry from Centiva’s Contour series.

Shaw Industries recently entered the LVT market with a range of floating floor products. According to John Geier, Shaw’s director of product development, resilient, consumers are responding not only to ease of installation, but enhanced high-definition printing technology visuals. “Product colors are more vibrant and look real, and texture embossing is improving year after year,” he said.

Johnsonite’s Space product resembles the look of carpet tiles.

Erica Hubbard, Tarkett Nafco product manager, also thinks that improvements in digital technology are helping LVT’s bottom line. “From a design point of view, continued advancements in print and embossing capabilities have led to stunning improvements in visual and textural highlights.”

New designs
Mannington recently introduced two new Adura patterns: Casa (a terracotta/stained concrete look) and Vibe (a linen pattern). Sheehan said the company is also developing a new Diamond Finish high-clarity coating for an upcoming Calypso pattern. “This design has the look of a higher-gloss, polished marble, and will be launching in the second half of 2011,” Sheehan said.

Armstrong’s Alterna Premium Tile LVT.

Tarkett Nafco recently unveiled the Transcend Collection in 20 SKUs. The products feature FreeSpan Locking Technology, a Unilin click system. Mark Danner, Tarkett Nafco senior design manager, said he sees residential LVT trending toward a range of hardwood looks, including fumed and faded tones in rustic designs and “a stronger, refined visual character in lightly oiled, fresh-milled finishes.”

Jeremy Salomon, product manager for Johnsonite’s Tarkett collection of commercial resilient flooring, is also seeing more people ask for hardwood plank visuals. He noted that healthcare clients are looking for products that are inviting but also easy to maintain. “They want something that will be very easy to maintain but also feels like home for the patients staying in their facilities,” he said. “Heavier embossing makes it harder to maintain the floor, so we prefer less aggressive embossing for that reason.”

Mannington’s Casa Chipotle.

Don Evans, EarthWerks’ vp sales, said that while hardwoods plank designs are hot, “stone and slate tile looks continue to be popular, though planks outsell the tile two to one.” EarthWerks’ recently introduced LinkWerks LVT in two formats. Rapid Clic features a Unilin locking system for a true floating floor; Firm Loc offers a locking system using a pre-applied bead of glue that can simply be pressed down and rolled with a 100# roller, according to Evans.

Shaw is continuing to roll out patterns and colors in its LVT. “All products should be rolled out by mid-spring,” Geier said.

Pocock sees the LVT market expanding as more people discover the benefits of the flooring; he said that his company, which has primarily found success in the commercial market, is starting to make inroads into residential. “I see residential LVT starting where engineered wood did about 12 years ago – it began in one room and now is being installed throughout entire homes.”