Going back about 20-years, most Calgary homeowners would have shuddered at the idea of installing laminate or vinyl flooring. There just was no comparison between natural wood floors and the laminates of a few decades ago. However, today, homeowners would be hard-pressed to spot the difference between laminate or vinyl floors and hardwood on sight. Why? Technology.
The introduction of automation and technology in floor manufacturing has made a huge impact on the flooring industry. Here’s how it has improved not only laminate flooring and vinyl flooring designs but even design trends in hardwood flooring and more.
New technologies and automation have allowed manufacturers to create far more realistic colours, textures, and grains. In fact, even looking at faux stone flooring you see major differences in products such as vinyl or laminate slate. This entices homeowners to lean towards what tends to be a more affordable flooring option that allows them to get the look they love without breaking the budget.
With the introduction of automation in the manufacturing industry, the cost of production has decreased. There are fewer people needed on the manufacturing floor which impacts costs in many ways other than salary alone. The cost of accident risk and insurance is reduced, benefit costs are reduced, and downtime from employee-related challenges are reduced. Productivity is up which means floors can be brought to the consumer at far more affordable pricing.
Local production is also becoming more common as manual labour costs are the highest in North America. As more affordable labour through computers and robotics take over on the production line, floors can be made at home, reducing shipping costs and improving transportation efficiency.
Grading and Sorting Hardwood
In the hardwood industry, technology is assisting in many ways. For example, artificial intelligence can be used to grade wood. Software can recognize patterns and allow robots to choose and sort wood before it reaches the production line. Software can also be programmed at the quality control end as well as in sorting flooring in warehouses and delivery processes improving accuracy and reducing human error.
Small Batch Floors
Boutique companies are in a position to bring smaller batch floors to consumers thanks to technology. Specialty flooring such as reclaimed hardwoods or customized tiles can be brought to retailers more affordably and in larger batches as production costs are reduced. This can open up new lines to homeowners that appeal to the desire to buy locally while also making their homes more distinct.
Technology has also contributed to making hard surface floors more comfortable underfoot. The creation of softer vinyl as well as underlays can provide more comfort to homeowners. Cork backers are also becoming more common providing not only comfort but also assisting in absorbing sound and reducing impact should you drop a dish or glass. However, the ability to improve materials is also bringing new flooring options to the consumer such as revolutionized linoleum adaptations better suited to today’s homeowner.
Major companies such as Mannington and Armstrong are leading the way in adapting flooring ideas for floating installation as well as introducing new categories such as DuraStone and DuraCeramic faux finish options. This is much in part due to the introduction of new fiberglass technology.
Technology has improved flooring designs to make them easier to install. Ideas such as “click” technology make DIY flooring projects easier for homeowners. However, it also speeds up the professional installation process which results in more affordable installations. This includes faux ceramics and stone floors which are becoming a common choice as they are easy to install without glues or grout, and can be cut easily to make way for things such as islands in kitchens.
Highly stylized flooring is becoming on-trend not just in laminates, and vinyl, but hardwoods as well. Since technology can make introducing highly stylized colours, finishes and grains far more customized in appearance, producing natural floors with unique design features has become more popular. Scraping for texture and the addition of interesting washes that change the tone of the wood ironically often try to match the appearance of laminate and vinyl trends in natural wood floors.
This is notable in the recent antiquated look created using artificially aged finishes. Technology allows manufacturers to create more pronounced features to meet the demand for people wanting floors that looked aged and original to their homes.
Technology is improving not only laminate flooring and vinyl flooring but introducing new, more affordable ways to create new design trends in hardwood flooring, tile and more.