Just as fashion designers in the apparel industry sweat over every button, stitch and pleat, the floorcovering industry has its own designers who diligently follow trends in order to give homeowners the most current offerings on the market.
“Home decorating trends change in the same way clothing fashion does,” says Bill Dearing, president of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA). “What’s in our closets evolves, and the same goes for the décor of our homes. Flooring’s no exception.”
Design teams at NALFA-member flooring manufacturers across North America monitor trends at home improvement shows and the latest industry developments in color, wallpaper, fabrics and home furnishings to project upcoming styles and tailor their flooring designs accordingly.
Laminate flooring gets its beauty from a photographic image fused beneath a protective layer, which makes it particularly adaptable to new designs.
“Any design you can imagine is possible in laminate,” Dearing says. “Unique and rare species that aren’t possible in real wood, and marbles and stones that would cost thousands of dollars – all of it’s possible in laminate design.”
Here’s what’s hot with homeowners.
1. Extremely Realistic Looks– Look for authentic reproductions of the original material. “Enhanced realism is definitely the hottest trend in laminate flooring design,” Dearing says. “Reclaimed looks, subtle embossing – the visuals have never been more realistic. The ever-changing laminate market has driven design to become more realistic.”
While the rustic, time-worn look in wood continues to be a favorite style with homeowners, laminate flooring now can replicate distressed hardwood styles and hand-scraped finishes, nail holes, saw marks and other natural features of reclaimed wood. With wood looks comprising nearly 80 percent of laminate sales – ceramic tile, marble and stonereplications constitute the balance – oak and hickory looks are faring well.
2. Growth in Bamboo – Manufacturers are moving beyond traditional wood looks with the introduction of near-flawless replications of strand-woven bamboo. It’s the next big thing for laminate.
3. Dimensions of Design– The trend is thicker, wider, longer. Laminate planks are available in longer lengths and wider widths that more closely replicate wood floors.
4. Shining Bright – There’s greater interest in high-gloss flooring. All finishes are available in laminate, from matte to high gloss and everything in between. And maintaining a scratch- and fade-resistant laminate floor is a breeze, so it will stay looking good for years to come.
5. The New Neutral– Grays in all tints, tones and shades are becoming a mainstay in the new color palette. They provide a neutral but interesting option for laminate design.
6. Going Green – Buying green has progressed from a trend to a way of life for many homeowners. Consumers are choosing products that have recycled content, and NALFA-certified laminate is inherently green. A product’s lifecycle is also a green consideration, and laminate is known for its extreme durability.
7. Home Grown– There’s been a surge in the significance of “Made in North America.” Consumers feel more confident trusting the quality of laminate products manufactured at home under higher standards, and there’s a renewed push to buy NALFA-certified brands that keep Americans working.
8. Value Shopping – With budget in the forefront of consumers’ minds these days, homeowners are looking for high quality. But they want to be sure they’re getting a good value. Affordable luxury is the objective. The most in-demand laminate designs have high-end looks at affordable prices.
9. Something Different – Cement is popular in commercial settings, and it’s a laminate look that’s drifting to homes.
Whatever floor trends suit them, Dearing says a homeowner’s laminate floor promises long-lasting satisfaction.
“Trends are enlightening, but the fact is what’s hot today will still have staying power,” he concludes. “Homeowners can be happy with their laminate floors for years to come.”