The North American commercial flooring industry is one of the most diverse of any manufactured product in terms of product type and selection. From broadloom carpet and carpet tile, to hardwood and innovative resilient products made from cork and rubber, decision-makers in new commercial construction and renovation have no shortage of choices to meet their architectural or interior design needs and requirements.
Discussions of commercial flooring tend to focus on the floor covering or finish material, which is hardly surprising since it's the covering everyone sees, sort of a like picking the shape and color of our cars. Still, while we want to impress, getting our money's worth matters, too.
TOP FLOORING TRENDS FOR 2017
Manufacturers are showcasing advancements in finishes and color palettes, as well as their longer and wider planks, says Lisa Marshall, BCC research analyst, Lisa Marshall, BCC Research analyst, says in Commercial Flooring: North American Markets.
She cites Lauzon Flooring's "Atlantis," the company's new eco-friendly flooring line that features a matte finish and a subtle texture. "The company incorporates an air-purifying smart technology that, when activated by natural or artificial light and the movement of air, breaks down airborne toxins to improve indoor air quality," Marshall notes.
Another trends in hardwood finishes are products designed to extend the life of the floor and make them extra durable, according to Marshall. Mohawk’s American Retreat basic oak line has been expanded to include the company’s branded AmorMax finish, touted as five times tougher than other finishes on the market, she notes.
In addition, a matte finish floor is a type of scratch-resistant finish. If the finish gets scratched, it can be wiped clean and the floor looks like new. Sounds like the perfect floor finish for a bachelor's home. Some manufacturers state that these finishes are ten times more durable than other finishes, and can last for up to 25 years. Swedish finishes and acrylic finishes are the most popular types of extra-durable products.
DIGITAL PRINTING TECHNOLOGY MIMICS THE REAL THING: WOOD, TILE
Advancements in digital printing technology and mechanical embossing continue to enhance the visuals in new product offerings across the industry, especially luxury vinyl tile. According
to Scott Humphrey, chief executive of the World Floor Covering Association
, growth in this flooring category has exploded due to digital technology that can achieve high degrees of realism that mirror and expand upon trends seen in both the hardwood and ceramic tile flooring categories.
"Anything you can take a picture of, you can make it into vinyl tile,” Humphrey says about the technology that has given vinyl as whole new look. “It can go into various rooms — some of it looks like marble and people put it in bathrooms," he tells New Home Source
Wood-look luxury vinyl and laminate flooring options yield wood replications with the additional benefits of durability, water and stain resistance, and comfort. According to Carpet One Floor & Home
, tile is another flooring category that's following the wood-look trend.
The once top choice of flooring in kitchens is making a comeback with beautiful wood prints and the ability of unique installation patterns.
Suppliers are seeing tile formats continue to trend larger and planks trend both longer and wider, Marshall notes. For example, Mohawk has launched its Configurations product in large slabs, as well as long and wide planks in various formats.
Longer, wider planks of various width variations from plank-to-plank are also trending, according to Carpet One Floor & Home
. For color, the warm gray spectrum, spanning both light and dark values, will continue to drive volume in flooring and home furnishing alike, as will tone-on-tone colors that showcase the natural characteristics respective of the type of wood.
"Trends in wood and ceramics are enabling companies like Mohawk to react and mirror those visuals. Digital technology, now with embossing in register, has given companies the ability to make visuals look more realistic," she says. "Planks that have mixed looks are also trending, and because they are offered with the same locking system in the same thickness, they can be installed together."
CARPET REMAINS KING IN BEDROOM FLOORING OPTIONS
As for the bedroom, carpet remains the preferred option, whether wall-to-wall or as a large area rug over hard surface flooring, according
to Carpet One Floor & Home. The coming year will see carpet styles that combine organic textural qualities with luxurious accents, a trending construction that trends with a movement in home décor toward materials and textiles derived from or which evoke a sense of organic and natural elements.
For example, advances in tufting technologies are allowing carpet designs to mimic the look of natural sisal, while maintaining a soft, velvety feel. For color, expect to see increasing use of striations to, again, evoke the look of natural woods and stone, combining beiges, golds, grays and taupe fibers.
Marshall maintains that demand for carpet flooring is growing for a variety of reasons. "Carpeting offers comfort in a room, and some protection against cold winter conditions because of the higher insulation if offers over other types of flooring. It also provides a decorative element, and can create a soothing environment. Plus, it's a safer option for kids and aged people as this type of flooring can help minimize accidental falls."
"Think low pile. Earth tones. Razor-straight geometric prints," notes Brendan Phillips, president of SMART Carpet and Flooring. "They're fresh and modern, yet they're still appropriate for the family home. Our customers are already starting to put these carpets down, and they absolutely love the updated look."
Whatever your penchant, vinyl, tile, carpet, hardwood, or a digital representation of any of these, choices abound in what promises to be an interesting year in the flooring market.