Loose lay LVT finds niche

One of the many reasons LVT has established itself as the industry’s fastest growing category is its versatility. Not only can it be produced in several different formats and designs, its different installation options of dry back, loose lay and click provide a solution for any need. Industry insiders told FCW that the versatility of loose lay LVT is one reason consumers are gravitating toward the subcategory.Novalis Loose Lay collection

Emil Mellow, vice president of marketing for Karndean Designflooring, touted that few, if any, products can match loose lay LVT’s ability to handle the potential challenges of such a wide variety of interior environments.

“From imperfect subfloors to rooms where humidity is a factor, loose lay is the ideal flooring solution. Our own Karndean LooseLay has been used in spaces such as basketball courts and gyms,” he said. “Karndean LooseLay crosses over into every segment of our business. It’s suitable for nearly every room in a home, in addition to commercial settings, such as corporate, hospitality, retail, education, multifamily and healthcare.”

Armstrong’s vice president of resilient product management Jamey Block explained that when it comes to installation, the company has seen success with its proprietary easy-to-install structures — including Luxe Plank with FasTak.

John Wu, president and CEO of Novalis, explained that as long as the environment has a smooth subfloor, loose lay LVT can simply be dropped down tile by tile or plank by plank for a complete installation.

“If you want extra security, you can perimeter glue or tape the installation. Loose lay LVT is uniquely constructed with a thick glass fiber layer that makes each individual tile dimensionally extra-stable and temperature resistant to minimize expansion and contraction,” Wu explained.

However, he noted that environments with uneven subfloors are not suitable for loose lay LVT if it is not properly patched and fixed.

“In those cases, we would recommend using a rigid core product such as our NovaCore HPC,” Wu said.

Mellow noted that although loose lay LVT offers a faster and easier installation process, subfloor preparation is paramount to the success of the finished result.

“We recommend that consumers use professional installers to ensure that the subfloor is properly prepared for the floor covering,” he said. “Their experience with a variety of factors, such as relative humidity, underlayments and uneven surfaces, is a critical piece to any successful installation.”

For Novalis, supplying a large variety of LVT, including glue-down, click, rigid core and loose lay LVT, is important to serve the residential, light commercial and full commercial markets properly.

“Loose lay LVT still represents a small portion of our total LVT business. However, it is on the very high end of the spectrum and is growing very rapidly,” Wu at Novalis noted. “We foresee loose lay LVT representing 20 percent of our total LVT portfolio within three years.”

While loose lay LVT is not new to the product category, Wu explained that it is a very difficult product to manufacture well.

“There is a growing acceptance of this product by end users, contractors and installers, because they are all seeing the benefits of fast installation and easy repair and replacement. Just lift one up and put one down,” he said.

Novalis’ loose lay LVT collection was chosen for Magnum Ice Cream’s movable “pleasure stores” in China. According to Wu, loose lay was selected as the flooring choice because it’s durable, easy to maintain, looks great and can be reused easily over and over.

For Karndean, loose lay LVT is a rapidly growing segment because of the versatility and cost savings that it offers to both residential and commercial customers.

“It provides all the beauty and easy maintenance of glue down products, but in the easiest and fastest installation format available. It checks off all the boxes,” explained Mellow. “[Karndean’s] LooseLay is durable, waterproof, kid-friendly, pet-friendly, soft underfoot, easy to repair, compatible with underfloor heating, and has enhanced acoustical benefits. For commercial customers, especially store owners, the faster installation means minimal downtime for the business — this is a tremendous advantage.”