The resilient flooring category, which is nearing $7 billion in sales annually, is showing no signs of slowing down in 2023 despite some broader economic headwinds, according to a panel of resilient flooring exerts who spoke at The International Surfaces Event in Las Vegas.
Bruce Zwicker, CEO, Zwicker Advisory, moderated the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) panel discussion, “What You Should Know About Resilient Flooring," which provided a market update on the current state of the category. The panel included Herb Upton, chairman, RFCI, and vice president of hard surface flooring, Shaw; Metroflor President Russ Rogg, who is vice chair, RFCI; and RFCI President Bill Blackstock.
“Our early numbers are showing that 2022, from a resilient standpoint, to be well in the double-digits in both the dollar and unit,” Blackstock said. “I believe our market share, if the numbers hold up, will cross the 30 percent mark."
While the overall economy showed some cooling off in the fourth quarter of 2022, it did not hinder dollar sales, and unit sales experienced double-digit growth, Blackstock said. He indicated that 2021 was an exceptional year in terms of category growth, exceeding 2020 numbers.
Rogg pointed out that the resilient category began as a $1 billion industry and has grown to nearly $7 billion over the last 10 years.
“If you were to go back and look at maybe 2015 and you looked at a pie chart that the industry experts put out, you will see vinyl, and you will see 15 percent share,” said Zwicker. “You will see carpets and rugs at about 40 [percent]. If you were to look at vinyl as a share of the flooring industry today, it is larger than carpet, excluding rugs.”
Resilient Floors in Residential Projects
Blackstock said the residential market is going to experience a v-shaped rise out of the down market rather than a smooth upward tick in momentum. This growth is being steered by the average age of homes and their need for remodels.
Resilient is being used across residential projects, starting with builder and renovations followed by multifamily housing. “Multifamily has had a little bit of an adjustment going on...there's a big need there,” Blackstock noted.
Upton said various types of resilient are being used "throughout the house—in bedrooms, kitchens, hallways, basements. There is a product category that fits every residential need within the home.”
Floating rigid floors, including WPC and SPC floors, are popular in single-family new homes and single-family remodels.
“Very rarely would you find a traditional, glue-down dryback product used in a new home construction,” Rogg said. “In multifamily, we see a lot of glue-down, dryback LVT used in that segment as well as floating, rigid SPC.”
Resilient Floors in Commercial Projects
In commercial projects, Upton said resilient is being used primarily in government, corporate office, hospitality, and medical, followed by with some boutique usage within dentist offices, salons and restaurants.
“They are utilizing very similar products, but they are built differently for high-traffic and load bearing [use],” Upton said. “Within that is the heterogeneous sheet and LVT—both rigid and glue-down.”
Rogg said you might see floating floors and WPC being used in retail and hospitality, while institutional settings, such as hospitals, will require glue-down styles that can endure heavy loads and high traffic.
Blackstock said he anticipates a huge need for resilient floors in healthcare, senior living, and education (K-12). In corporate projects, office space is undergoing remodels as more companies are considering a return to the office.
Where Blackstock really sees the resilient category excelling, however, is through what he terms “share gain.”
“If you look within each of those segments, the real secret in the sauce is the level of innovation that’s taking place,” he said. “It is allowing the value proposition in the segments and subsegments to really take root and to have share gain. No matter what the economic cycle is, if you are going into a downcycle, if you are gaining share on a pie as big as the pie is with the United States and Canada, good things happen there.”
Resilient flooring manufacturers continue to invest in research and development that improves durability, longevity, ease of maintenance, aesthetics, product sizes and format choices.
“It’s really hard to think of another product category that can deliver all of those things that boils down that value proposition,” Rogg said. “No product is recession proof, but I think that resilient and LVT is a product that can do that better than others.”
He points to the wide range of price points that are available in the category as well, citing that the category offers everything from a value product to a high-end product.
“Glue-down, flexible and looselay continue to be popular, but if you think about it from a market share perspective, SPC could be 40 to 45 percent of the resilient category, and these numbers could be disputed," Rogg said. "WPC could be in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 percent. Gluedown and flexible may be around 20 to 25 percent, and everything else would be in the ‘other’ category—VCT, rubber, etc.”
Specifying Resilient Floors
Specifying resilient floors can be confusing for end users. The first thing to consider when deciding between rigid and flexible products is the subfloor, according to Upton. “What kind of installation is it? Are you putting down over a concrete slab? Are you going above grade? What is the condition of the floor?”
If the floor has some imperfections, rigid core is a perfect solution. “It will not show those undulations and imperfections in the flooring," Upton said. "When you talk about performance and if you want warmth and comfort, that’s when you’d want to pick a higher-end product like WPC.”
SPC can be installed in areas like the living room where traffic is heavier. It is a highly durable product that can also hide subfloor imperfections.
In commercial applications, like the education and medical sectors, RFCI tends to recommend glue-down products because they can handle heavier traffic and rolling loads, Rogg said.
For more information about resilient floors, visit rfci.com, and listen to Floor Trends TalkFloor podcast Resilient Flooring—A Sustainable Outlook!
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