Check out some of the newest technologies and reclaimed materials that are becoming the hottest products in flooring.
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The economy may be keeping a lid on spending, but when it comes to flooring, it’s driving trends. That’s because today’s cost-conscious consumer is more demanding of value than ever.
“There’s definitely been a shift from spending to savings, “ says Chris Davis, the president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association. “But that doesn’t mean consumers aren’t buying flooring: it means they’re looking for value and comfort. They might not be moving up right now, but they’re still into feathering the nest.”
Flooring manufacturers are getting the message. As a result, they’re keen on providing more bang for the buck — reining in high-end marketing and concentrating on products that are sensible, low-maintenance and easy on the budget.
That means bringing more innovation and variety to the perennial low-cost champs: resilient vinyl and carpeting.
Vinyl in demand
Choices for resilient vinyl flooring include a spectrum of styles, colors, textures and patterns. Add in vinyl’s easy-to-clean characteristics, comfort under foot and family-friendly stain-resistance, and the result is increasing popularity with value-hungry shoppers.
The demand continues for the “luxury vinyl” segment -- top-quality resilient flooring with lookalike qualities that are increasingly difficult to distinguish from stone, wood plank and ceramic tile. At $4 to $5 per square foot, luxury vinyl products sit at the middle of the flooring price range. Nevertheless, the ability of these products to mimic traditional high-end materials, such as tumbled marble and exotic hardwoods, puts extraordinary good looks at the feet of ordinary homeowners at a fraction of the cost.
Carpet leads the way
Carpet remains the market-share leader, accounting for more than 60 percent of retail flooring sales. Manufacturers’ response to the stagnant home market has been to provide more fashion-oriented options at all prices.
“The variety of carpets these days is nothing short of amazing,” says Davis. “Pattern, design, colors, interesting cuts, the whole feel of the material. There’re more wow-factor choices than ever.”
Growing with green
If there’s a growth category in flooring, it’s the green market. Although the notion of green flooring has been au courant for years, demand for commercial flooring that complies with LEED standards has helped lower prices for green residential flooring as well. That translates into more new products and more consumer acceptance.
Most flooring manufacturers are jumping on the green bandwagon, adding lines that boast high recycled content and raw materials obtained from sustainable sources. Among our favorites:
The new flooring buzzwords are “antimicrobial” and “antibacterial.” Leading the way is cork, which is supposed to possess natural antibacterial properties. Tile from Stonepeak Ceramics uses sunlight to activate a chemical on the tile’s surface that oxidizes germs and “speeds up the decomposition of pollutants,” substantially (we’re supposing) extending the five-second rule.
Jazz up a plain concrete or wood floor by painting a geometric pattern that looks like an area rug.