Technology contributes to the NEW, NOW, NEXT in flooring’s future

November 17, 2014

As the modern movement of green flooring continues, the A+D community is relentlessly seeking what’s new, now and next in the future of flooring. From vinyl to manmade stone to hardwood, the flooring industry is constantly launching products that incorporate innovative technologies. As global distributors, Architectural Systems (ASI) has built a 25-year history of introducing award-winning, sustainable, solution-based and highaesthetic materials to the design professional. ASI understands the importance of materials and how powerful they can be; materials can translate a brand, create a true sense of place and become an iconic element in any project.

Even if the material cannot be 100% green, the manufacturing process should be more socially responsible…

With today’s technology, new hardwoods can be made to look old, custom colors and intricate patterns can be easily produced, and now it’s even hard to tell what a real, natural flooring product is and what it is not — especially with manmade stone and hardwoods. Because of technology, the simulations and replications are practically foolproof. Dry sublimation is a breakthrough technology in hardwood, a popular flooring choice. This process gives the aesthetic of timeworn, distressed and hand-scraped woods without being authentically reclaimed. Then with luxury vinyl, because of digital imaging and printing of natural stone, wood or patterns, technology allows the offerings to be endless. Vinyl can now be anything. For designers, a new paradigm shift encourages them to specify porcelain, engineered hardwood and LVT into their projects because there has been an evolution from when sustainable materials were first available on the market, even before LEED certification was a goal. The first ecological product ASI distributed was Environ, a combination of soybean paste, newspaper and a binding component; needless to say it was not a very attractive product and just a step-up from the rubber flooring used in playgrounds back then. Carpet companies were then the forerunners of environmentally friendly flooring and capitalizing on technology to develop a greener methodology. Even if it was reclaimed, carpet faced the perception that the potential of mold and mildew was existent, and hotel guests didn’t want to stay in carpeted rooms. And that was the opening for sustainable hardwood and LVT to enter the hospitality industry. Another shift prevalent for the design community came with the idea that if the material cannot be 100% green, the manufacturing process should be more socially responsible. Maybe the product cannot be made with recycled content or from certified woods, so it is shipped in recycled cardboard packaging, and the plants run on solar energy. We have personally witnessed how manufacturers have rethought their manufacturing processes to remain competitive in the specification world. Sustainable has become the benchmark for a company’s modern business model. It’s been rewarding to watch how manufacturers strive to meet and surpass green standards. Product offerings enable us to present to designers and architects LVT, hardwood and manmade stone that are cost effective, visually impactful and sustainable, which can be incorporated into commercial contract spaces. What’s next?

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