State of the Industry
In the flooring world we are in a trend of easy to install flooring products, floating, locking, self- sticking. This has made us more of a DIY flooring industry. Products today are easier to install than they were 20 years ago. Products have been dummied up, taking more and more ability away from the flooring installer (more on this later). Labor rates have fallen and what good installers we have are either retiring or leaving the flooring industry for these reasons. For this reason, the industry is lacking good installers as very few people want to become flooring installers as it does require physical work and good hand techniques. Quantity over quality has become the normal. How much can I do so I can make some money today? Faster and faster in the builder and new construction market who break every rule in the book on environmental and subfloor conditions and hold every buddy else responsible but themselves.
Even though products have become easier to install, installers are not taking the time to learn about these products. Everything in the flooring industry has changed and continues to change. Locking systems change, adhesives have changed, but some installers will not change their ways or practices. I have done this for 30 years is what I hear. Things have changed dramatically in the flooring industry in the last 30 years. It amazes me how many installers do not allow expansion on floating vinyl and laminate floors. They have not quite realized it only takes one tight spot in an installation for the entire floor to fail. Just because the builder or homeowner wants to put the skinniest and cheapest thin profile shoe molding on, it doesn’t make things right. If a product requires 1/2″ expansion, do it. Fiberglass floors cannot be perimeter bonded. But yet every week I get at least one call on either can I perimeter bond this fiberglass floor or my fiberglass floor has failed because it was perimeter bonded. Manufacturers just don’t dream up these requirements, they test their products to the point of failure to set their guidelines. Today, there is more information available at your fingertips than there ever was and very few people use it. Every manufacture has a website with product information and down-loadable installation instructions. Some manufacturers have Apps with all the information. It is all there, right at your fingertips. Let’s not be in a race to the bottom. Quality still is important. Remember, the most critical part of the sale is THE FINISHED PRODUCT. As you know, the customer has changed too!
I would like to remember one of my readers whom recently passed away, Albert “Bert” LeCates. Bert was an advocate in becoming an expert and knowing the flooring industry in and out as he embraced newer technology but still had an old school knowledge of the industry. Bert was a true professional and will be dearly missed.
Armstrong will be introducing a new LVT line, Vivero. Vivero comes in Good/Better /Best. All