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Laminate flooring has made the most important changes in the flooring industry over the past 25 years and continues to make enormous changes and improvements over hard surface contact parts.
In Europe, they have enjoyed their properties and benefits for decades, but not as laminate flooring, as we know today. Decorative laminate was indeed the origin and beginning of what is now known as laminate flooring. The decorative laminate is generally used in kitchen countertops and furniture. As the technology developed in the top laminate industry, it was clearly made invisible that with the infinite number of decors that could have been created, it could also be created and used on the floor.
The tank with laminate flooring was born. There have been many technical challenges, the first of which was how to take a simple table platform and create a flooring product, the flooring product will make much more abuse by going on and a wear layer was created.
It has certainly not stopped the technical tidal wave of improvements and ideas that followed. Led mainly by European countries, laminate flooring gained more market share year after year, no market experienced such rapid growth as North America. Massive marketing campaigns led by such brands as Pergo, now synonymous with laminate flooring, introduced laminate flooring to the American public in the early 1990s.
The actual history of laminate flooring is quite short in North America, as Pergo had achieved household recognition with the new flooring products. Laminate flooring in North America was basically called "Pergo" floor again, the synonymous status and the sacred degree & # 39; of all brands.
In 2000, laminate flooring was a glue product; However, market shares in the flooring industry in North America also continued to grow at double-digit rate. Many of the other American traditional floor covering manufacturers of carpets and vinyl added laminate flooring to their product portfolio.
Then the private brand laminate was born. Laminate flooring was easy to private label you simply changed the insert or packaging and then created another brand or a floor line. This was especially useful for hardwood and carpet manufacturers to board this new product. The traditional carpet and hardwood manufacturers have large distribution networks, and with their own brand-based floor covering, thousands of new floor screens over a month and new brands began to appear everywhere. This continued to drive growth in the US.
As traditional American carpet and vinyl manufacturers, they presented themselves as laminate flooring manufacturers, advertised products, laminate floorboards, and sales.
Timeline on the US market The next step in growth was as fast and I will break them down chronologically:
2000 was particularly painful for Carpet Manufactures in Dalton, Georgia, they were completely blindsided by aggressive marketing of laminate flooring to the carpet and that was where the laminate took most of its market share from using the laminate flooring product as the hypoallergenic and showed close-ups of the carpet mites and bugs did nothing for to help the domestic food manufacturers.
All hard surface floors companies benefited. It was an exciting year for laminate flooring vendors, even with terrible installation demonstrations and glued floors.
2001 Each year that preceded 2000, new, exciting and innovative changes on the laminate floor market. The first change really started in 2001 limlimlimat. This was first introduced with metal clips on the back and during the sales presentations when you tried to put it together you almost needed a sledge hammer, it was harder than the glue method. Not very popular but the concept was created all we needed was the design and the solution.
2002 A year later, the technology for glue-free laminate flooring, introductions of glue-free laminates began to revolutionize the flooring industry again. Unilin Industries of Belgium introduced Quick-Step in the US market. Quick-Step uses the patented Uniclic common system. Several other manufacturers purchased licenses to use Uniclic's common technology, thereby confirming Uniclic as an industry standard for glue-less technology.
Still 95% of the US market used adhesives together laminates, it took even more aggressive marketing and this time, was mainly led by home centers with names like "Easy Lock", "Quick Lock" and # 39; "Speedy-Lock", etc. , to drive the consumer towards the exceptionally friendly DIY glue-free laminate floor area.
It was predicted in 2002 to buy 2004 100% of the laminate flooring industry becomes glue free.
2003 This again gave a dynamic year in the laminate flooring industry, but sales of the product per square meter continued to climb, but trials with regard to patents over the lock system and which created and who could use it arose and would continue for many years. Apart from the trials, the technology is now satisfied with glue-free installation and now a special DIY-friendly product that focuses on creating the product as realistic as hardwood as possible.
2004 This saw some dramatic changes in the quality of the laminate product itself. The standard glue-free laminate flooring product was 7 "wide at 54" long and it had a light tapping & # 39; The effect was combined with the adhesive-free release system. Most of the products were imported and mainly from Europe.
Towards the end of 2004, laminate flooring (although not fully integrated and small compared to European counterparts) began in the US. The larger US carpet manufacturers invested in laminate flooring, even though they were not fully integrated (we can investigate the importance of vertical integration later). But this shows the American retailer and distributor that the product was here and it was time to start supporting a horse.
This led to more innovation from abroad, the first being a wood grain structure - the laminate itself had a heavier wood structure, but it was random and not too realistic, in fact, a modest upgrade. First, all manufacturers tried to sell this improvement for $ 0.20SF to distribution but the reality was that there was no manufacturer cost increase to produce this texture - it was just another printing plate.
2005 The trials over the locking system continued, otherwise the locking system does not act on the light angular length of laminate flooring, all layered garments focusing on the end locking.
The quest to create a precise wooden replica of wooden floors continued and it led to a technology called "Register and Emboss" or "Embossed and Registered & # 39;." The idea of this was that the oak's pattern, for example, was completely indented in the wood panel, so that the oak or cherry basket was realistic for the touch.
All manufacturers soon chased this technology, it took a relatively simple process, create the correct paper (decor pattern) and then have a press plate and the end of the manufacturing process to match that paper decor and then you have embossed grain.
Legal arguments over who came with that technology all came forward.
2006 Year of the Year, Distributors with Own Brand & # 39; tried to position itself as a manufacturer - one of the largest that a vinyl producer tried to place as a market leader. Acquisitions also followed, Mohawk Industries bought Unilin & # 39; Quick-Step & # 39; in 2006. It was also the year of the home business, where it was the ultimate goal to have your branded product in one of the three largest US home plants.
One of the big math producers and distributors there with the factory in Dalton got business with Home Depot. Pergo was well positioned with a vinyl producer you had privately labeled their laminate line to Lowes Home Improvement Stores. Being a vinyl producer and not a laminate manufacturer creates a major problem and a critical weakness, because Lowes Home Improvement changed its purchasing policy to "buy the factory directly.
A large Swiss group and manufacturers of laminate flooring also with the world's largest factory in Heiligengrabe, Germany, had quietly built a factory in Barnwell, SC and could, at the right time, replace the vinyl producer as a supplier to Lowes Home Improvement.
2007 This really saw the legal issue of the locking system when two legal systems arose, one under Valinge Innovation and Uniclic Licensees each with about 100 partners paying royalties of about $ 0.04SF to $ 0.07SF. Licensors were granted worldwide and this led to the return of Chinese laminate floors.
In the middle of 1990, China was one of the fastest growing laminate floor markets in the world and most of this was delivered by freight in containers from Europe. There were large distributors in China 100 containers a month in size - or 2,400 pallets a month. It did not take long for Chinese ingenuity to copy the process and buy in 2001, China had a lot of factories (with large state grants). Part of this product came back as imports to the US, but the legal issues with locking systems and potential freezes of warehouses cease and desist letters flying scared by most distributors.
2008 China was back, this time the big factories had license agreements and were legal, the machines that made laminate flooring were from Europe and the product quality was excellent.
There, market activity was just as good, instead of going after the low dog fighting market of 7 mm and 8 mm, they created a new look. A narrow plank and bevelled edges, the new narrow plank was about 5 "wide compared to the standard 8" from Europe, the 5 "wide was a plank look and combined with the bevel, the registration and the embossing they had created the ultimate floor.
This was it, all over the last 25 years culminating in this point a floor that had a narrow cardboard look 5 inches wide, facade or microphase on all four sides, realistic textured surface and a lifetime warranty.
Europe's adjustments, but they were once at the forefront, China instead of going after the low market market high with high quality, the highest quality laminate you could do and make it cheap to the US market.
2009 It is not clear where we can go from here, but the same is probably said in 2005, laminate flooring is now so good in appearance that you cannot distinguish it from genuine hardwood, the only clue is that the price laminate flooring is much less expensive than real wood with more color choices . 2009 will be a difficult financial year and it will also be 2010. Consumers will focus on quality and price. Branding becomes less important as the consumer becomes more educated. The large price fluctuations are square-faced and narrow planks from a distributor priced at $ 5SF and from another $ 0.89SF and yet absolutely no technical difference in the product. The consumer will investigate and the gap will be closed.
Laminate flooring in the US market is a remarkable story of growth and ingenuity. I do not think that a couple of tough economic years will have a major impact on its future survival. It is an excellent product and with a certain effort and research by the consumer you can get incredible value.