While laminate continues to face challenges from new resilient, rigid core and multilayer flooring, manufacturers are optimistic that innovation and a focus on higher-end products will keep laminate sales strong moving forward.
In 2017, the focus was on innovation and enhancing the performance of the floors, specifically with manufacturers developing and launching waterproof and water-resistant laminate products with realistic, natural-looking visuals and textures. These factors led to an increase by two percent in average selling prices of laminate in 2017, according to Catalina Research.
Manufacturers expect this focus on premium products (with subsequently higher price points) will continue in 2018. Jeremy Kleinberg, senior product manager at Armstrong Flooring, said Armstrong believes this price increase is due to the better product mix.
“There’s a continued desire on the part of the consumer for high-end styling and quality, and they are willing to pay slightly more for want they want,” he said.
Enhancements that are becoming a focus in today’s laminate, like water resistance, buoy pricing to a higher level, Kleinberg added. Thomas Baert, president of Atroguard, a company with a laminate collection by the same name, agreed that most water-resistant laminate, due to its enhanced properties, is geared toward high-quality.
“In most cases, the new water-resistant features have been marketed mainly on the higher end collections,” Baert said. “Also, the renovation business is huge right now, and consumers don’t necessarily want ‘cheap’ laminate in their own homes. The fashion, style, and durability of mid- and upper-end laminate collections offer very nice design options.”
Some manufacturers like Mannington Mills have also said they’ve seen a growing market and increase in sales coming into the new year.
“We’ve actually seen a strengthening of the category in the back half of the year (2017) compared to a relatively sluggish start,” said Dan Natkin, vice president of laminate and hardwood at Mannington Mills.
Mannington has also added a line of water-resistant laminate flooring with its Restoration collection, all of which has its SpillShield technology.
The biggest innovation within the category is centered on the advancements in water-resistant technology,said Drew Hash, vice president hard surface product portfolio at Shaw Floors.
“Shaw’s Repel laminate collection was designed to feature beautiful styling and superior scratch-, stain-, fade- and water-resistant performance attributes, and is a great investment for retailers and consumers interested in high-end laminate products,” Hash said.
Travis Bass, EVP of sales and marketing at Swiss Krono USA, said he expects to see performance- and style-enhancing innovations continue, for thicker and better-performing laminate.
“The industry continues to invest in higher-end products including better designs, textures and moisture resistant technology,” he said.
The Tarkett innovations in Asthma and Allergy (product certification) is a unique approach based on the growing focus of consumers on health and wellness in their home, said John Gittrich, senior director, resilient product management at Tarkett North America.
“This is a major trend we have seen playing out across society in home improvement shows, local TV and media,” and will continue to be at the forefront of Tarkett’s laminate innovations, which is already Asthma and Allergy-certified, Gittrich added.
And as innovations continue to expand and enhance laminate’s performance to compete with resilient products, Roger Farabee, senior vice president, laminate and hardwood at Mohawk Industries, said he believes most manufacturers (like Mohawk and sister company Quick-Step) are focusing on a better mix of laminate products in their collections, and he sees that continuing into 2018.
“Everybody’s launchings are generally focused around more premium products, moisture-resistant products are in the premium category and that’s really where the growth is,” Farabee said. “Entry-level price points are not something people are focused on a lot outside of home centers, so really all the new activity and focus for people has been on the premium end of the market.”