What's new in flooring? Surfaces 2012 in Las Vegas.
Our residential contractor and designer, Steve Thompson, had the privilege of attending Surfaces 2012 in Las Vegas. He came back with a lot of great insight on new products in flooring and he wanted to share his experience with you.
What’s new in flooring for 2012? I recently attended the Surfaces 2012 trade show in Las Vegas. The four day show focusses primarily on floor coverings, but does spill over into other areas such as granite, stone veneers, tools and handling equipment.
Beginning with carpet, there has been a slow shift towards patterns over the last couple of years. Where berbers and friezes once were dominant, patterns are now beginning to catch on. This is due in part to the housing market, specifically home sales, being on the decline. Considering that most realtors recommend keeping everything neutral and simple, it is no surprise that patterns are beginning to gain momentum after the burst of the housing bubble. Homeowners, realizing that they will be staying in their homes for a while, are beginning to choose less conservative options for their floor coverings. Another factor which may contribute to more patterns being selected is the affordability of such products. While visiting with many of the exhibitors at the show, I discovered that several manufacturers are offering products that are a wool blend weave. This provides the same look and feel of a 100% wool product, but slightly less durable. These wool blends will sell for about 1/3 the price of a comparable wool carpet.
Another interesting discovery I made at the show was the introduction of additional materials into the carpet; materials such as chenille and Lurax. The chenille offers a unique look and feel to the carpet. It is a fresh idea for a product that’s been around for a while. Lurax is a fiber that is bonded to the strands that make up the carpet. It has a metallic look, and is being incorporated into both shag carpets as well as many pattern pieces.
While carpeting is breaking through barriers and offering more dramatic selections, porcelain tile is becoming more subtle. The “hot” patterns and styles for porcelain seemed to lean towards a more modern and refined tile that mimics concrete and linen more than natural stone as in years past.
Luxury vinyl tile with wood patterns were well represented at this year’s show, but it was the roll goods and Mannington’s new Vivendi Collection that stole the show with its linen looks and almost watermark scroll pattern. Representatives from Mannington reiterated that the floor was being introduced as a commercial product, but I would not be surprised to see this used in upscale residential projects. This product is easy on the eyes and a must see.
There were a lot of hardwood flooring manufacturers at the show; too many in my opinion. For a while I was disappointed not to see anything different than what has been on the market for the past couple years. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon a family of hardwoods that designers are going to fall in love with. Reclaimed hardwoods will probably never become the industry standard, but do offer a “living” floor that, if properly maintained, will last a lifetime. These hardwoods undergo a process called carbonization. Carbonization is a heat treatment that changes the cell structure of the wood allowing better control of the expanding and shrinkage rate. In turn, its stabilization drastically prolongs the life of the wood product. Carbonization also darkens the hue of the wood into dark brown and black hues, while preserving the natural grain patterns of the wood boards. The color variations obtained during the treatment allow endless possibilities for designers and homeowners. DuChateau Floors have a hard-wax oil finish that you have to see to believe. The finish is all natural, non-pollutant, non-toxic, zero VOC finish with no biocides, no preservatives and benzene free. The hard-wax oil finish is also environmentally friendly. It is the BEST looking finish I have ever seen on any hardwood flooring product. If you have become bored with the typical everyday look of hardwood flooring then these new hardwoods will sweep you off your feet.
I may not have saved the “best” for last, but certainly the most interesting. While visiting one of the display booths at the show something caught my eye from across the aisle. I was looking at a piece of slate that had been seemingly curved around a wall. The product is called Thin Slate. The slate is between 1-3 mm thick, and laminated on top of a fiberglass /polyester layer. It is ultra light weight, weighing less than .5 pounds per square foot. It is flexible allowing for installation on radius applications. Some of the sheets are available in sheets up to 108”x60”. The applications for this product are endless.
Surfaces 2012 had a lot to offer everyone, and something special to offer those who were seeking something unique.