If you’ve read about the commercial vinyl flooring market lately, then you know demand for vinyl flooring products is growing at a good clip. The vinyl flooring market is expected to grow to nearly $50 billion within the next 5 years. And as the market for vinyl expands, it’s worth exploring how this evolution will impact the products themselves by taking a look at recent design and technology trends facility managers need to know.
LUXURY VINYL TILE
Traditional commercial vinyl flooring types—vinyl composition tile (VCT) and vinyl sheet flooring—likely aren’t going anywhere soon. But (luxury vinyl tile) LVT is taking the headlines, with improved design possibilities, installation technology, and the emergence of an entirely new subcategory of rigid-core LVT products.
It should come as no surprise that LVT will grow at the fastest rate of all vinyl flooring categories, growing at an average annual rate of 14.1 percent.
Demand has followed innovation as manufacturers have developed newer and better LVT products. And, the development of more advanced products has put pressure on everyone in the industry to keep up, catalyzing even more innovation—truly a renaissance in LVT flooring.
Let’s take a look at the LVT trends that’ll drive advancement in the vinyl flooring market as it grows and evolves in the coming years.
LIMITLESS DESIGN VERSATILITY
Manufacturers have mastered the art of imitation. With stunning graphics and detailed embossing, there are now LVT products on the market nearly identical to the premium products they mimic. And, with the water resistance, high durability, and low cost of LVT, it’s a viable competitor to more expensive materials such as ceramic, marble, and wood.
Design is no longer the limiting factor for LVT manufacturers, freeing up time to explore the boundaries of LVT’s design potential. This is great news for facility managers who want to make a statement: mixing natural with modern, subtle with bold, or any other out-of-the-box design.
There are hundreds of lines of stylish, fashionable LVT out there with the functionality to withstand heavy-duty commercial applications. Architects, designers, or owners searching for a high-performance material that’s conducive to their design vision have an abundance of options. Every manufacturer has something to offer: Mannington, Armstrong, Shaw, Novalis, and on and on. Here are some design innovations worth looking at:
Blurring the line between hard and soft flooring. This cutting-edge design of woven textile LVT—such as the ReThink line from Shaw—straddles the line between hard and soft surface flooring, with plenty of neutral and bold colors to mix and match. The textile layer giving the warmth of a carpet tile, with the water resistance and durability we’ve come to expect with luxury vinyl.
Woodgrain flooring with a twist. Flooring manufacturers have mastered the art of imitating premium materials—the untrained eye wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between wood and LVT. Manufacturers are beginning to add a pop of color to traditional flooring looks. A good example of this would be the SNSE® line from AVA®, a new line of wood grain LVT flooring. With traditional neutrals—and the entire rainbow—to choose from designers can create fun patterns or colorful paths to aid in wayfinding.
These are but a couple examples of how manufacturers are modernizing how and where facility managers can use LVT. To get a big-picture idea of the wealth of design options out there, spend some time flipping through a few manufacturers’ most recent product brochures. You won’t be disappointed.
ADVANCING BEYOND AESTHETICS
Enhanced design is far from the only advancement in recent years. LVT manufacturers have also put increasing focus on developing solutions to improve the construction, performance, and ease of installation of the material.
It’s an innovate-or-perish market, and vinyl flooring manufacturers work hard to keep abreast of performance trends. Innovation has bred innovation and there have been some notable advances in LVT.
While every manufacturer seems to have their own version of the following technologies, here are a couple examples of innovation in the construction of LVT flooring systems:
Stain and scratch resistance. The rise of more effective stain-, scuff- and dirt resistant LVT finishes are helping improve the long-term performance and durability of the flooring system. Certainly, the most attention-grabbing example of this would be Armstrong’s Diamond 10 technology. It’s a coating atop its LVT, which uses cultured diamonds to enhance the flooring system’s stain, dirt, and scuff resistance. Other examples include Mannington’s Quantum Guard® and Shaw’s ExoGuard®.
Pre-applied adhesives. This trend —having LVT products with adhesive already on the back— are exciting for installers and owners alike. Faster, easier installation means less downtime for installation and less money spent on labor. The first pre-applied adhesive product to hit the market was Mannington’s QuickStix, but other manufacturers are following suit.
While these examples barely scratch the surface of the advances we’ve seen in the past several years, they’re helpful in understanding the upward trajectory in performance and construction for the luxury vinyl market.
NEW FACE OF LUXURY VINYL
Amidst all the improvement in luxury vinyl construction, one product breakthrough stands above the rest: multilayer flooring (MLF). MLF is a relatively new subset of luxury vinyl, distinguished by superior performance and strength.
MLF goes by many names: rigid core LVT, wood plastic composite (WPC), solid polymer core (SPC), and more than 400 others have been used for the category since its introduction 6 years ago. But all of these terms refer to a type of flooring similar in almost every way to LVT except the core, which is “rigid” instead of “flexible.”
Rigid core LVT provides many benefits over traditional products. It’s more dimensionally stable and doesn’t telegraph subfloor imperfections. It is quicker to install, simply clicking into place—and with no acclimation time because it doesn’t expand and contract like flexible LVT. And to top it off, it offers superior acoustic performance, water resistance, and long-term appearance retention.
The luxury vinyl subcategory launched into existence when USFloors released their line of COREtec® luxury vinyl products in 2012. Since then, it has evolved and changed significantly, with seven of the biggest manufacturers coming together to develop an official ASTM standard for the product category, which they established at the end of 2017.
Even beyond MLF, you don’t have to look hard to find innovation in commercial vinyl. It’s in every product brochure from every manufacturer— just look.
About the author:
Aaron Hartung is the communications manager at Spectra Contract Flooring, the largest commercial flooring contractor in the U.S. For more information, visit www.spectracf.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, September2018
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