Popular Flooring Products Offer Benefits Beyond Beauty Alone
As with any material or product related to the construction industry, flooring manufacturers have seen their marketshare shrink during the economic downturn. However, they also have reason to be optimistic as signs of a recovery begin to surface. During the worst of the downturn, many manufacturers took the time to evolve their products and manufacturing processes, achieve certification labels and educate their installers to ensure their segment gains the most traction as the economy improves. The carpet, wood, resilient flooring and polished concrete segments have much to share about the benefits of their respective flooring types and what their industries have done to gain marketshare in the coming months.
As the recession continues and manufacturing and other jobs make their way overseas, the carpet industry has plenty to boast about. “Ninety-eight percent plus of all the carpet sold in the U.S. is made right here in the U.S.,” explains Werner Braun, president of the Dalton, Ga.-based Carpet and Rug Institute, which represents manufacturers; associate manufacturers who produce carpet fiber, backing and glue; and associates, like carpet cleaners and installers. “About 85 percent of all the carpet made in the U.S. is made in Georgia and almost all the rest is made in California. It’s a U.S.-centric industry and we hope to keep it that way.”
U.S. carpet manufacturers are taking advantage of opportunities in other countries, however. For example, in June, Dalton-based Shaw Industries broke ground on a carpet-tile plant set to open just outside of Shanghai, China, in 2013. The facility is a major investment for the company and will employ the latest manufacturing technology, making Shaw a local brand in China.
The carpet industry has been an advocate for recycling and using recycled content in its products. In 2002, CRI and its members formed the Carpet America Recovery Effort, or CARE. “What we were attempting to do was facilitate creation of a new industry where none really existed,” Braun says. “That industry is now alive and well and made up of people who collect, sort post-consumer carpet, process and/or recycle it, and then compound it to go into various kinds of product.”
Braun says CARE’s members have recycled more than 3 billion pounds of carpet since the organization was established. He adds: “We’re extremely proud of what that industry has done. There are more than 100 collectors and processors across the U.S., and during this economic downturn we lost very few of those people, which speaks volumes to the economic viability of this new industry.”
Braun says modular tiles are outpacing broadloom carpet in the marketplace because of their benefits in commercial applications. For example, in floors that feature underfloor air distribution systems, modular tiles easily can be removed if the UFAD needs to be accessed.