10 x high-tech for floors
by Martina Metzner | Jan 6, 2015
What a floor! Because the new floor coverings can do a whole lot more than their older brothers thanks to extra features that are the product of the latest technologies. Photo © Unilin

Keeps me warm, is forever restrained and quiet, withstands anything, and is really uncomplicated. And keeps me fit and healthy. What a deal! Or rather: What a floor! Because the new floor coverings are a bit like the perfect partner: These floors can do a whole lot more than their older brothers thanks to extra features that are the product of the latest technologies. For example, they offer surfaces that are closer to nature, more quirky and photorealist decors, can be 100 percent recycled, are especially stable and waterproof, easy to clean – and even improve air quality. And with all these advantages, the “new boys” can be laid more easily and efficiently. And what is striking is that, like so many technological advances, it’s the details that have changed. And precisely here precision is called for. You need only think of those annoying non-aligned seams in designer carpeting. Well, there are floor materials now that sidestep the problem.

Here we present ten novelties that the jury of experts chaired by German designer Stefan Diez has selected as the Innovations@DOMOTEX at the DOMOTEX 2015 trade fair – and which thanks to ultra-modern technologies make flooring a future all-rounder or perfect partner.

Feel the artificial knot holes: “Moduleo Impress” from International Vinyl Company (IVC) reflects the design in the surface texture. Photo © International Vinyl Company (IVC)

Completely natural: “Moduleo Impress” by International Vinyl Company

Be it as designer flooring or laminate: At first sight, it’s as good as impossible to distinguish floor coverings that imitate wood or stone from the original. One example is the innovative “Moduleo Impress” designer flooring produced by the International Vinyl Company (IVC), which is based in Avelgem, Belgium. The trick in the tale: the surface texture reflects the design of the underlying digital print. This way, you can feel those artificial knot holes, for example. “Moduleo Impress” is only available in the “Wood” category, and in 22 decors, and in panels sized 1,320 mm by 190 mm. Moreover, it boasts the customary properties of “Moduleo” material: 40 percent of the basic material is recycled, the entire product can be recycled, double optic fibers in the vinyl to prevent any annoying shrinking or expanding in the long term. Like its sisters, “Moduleo Impress” is manufactured in Avelgem – where there are now three wind turbines delivering a third of the factory’s energy needs.

The new “Par-ky Rough Cut” by Belgium’s Decospan version additionally boasts an especially coarse grain. Photo © Decospan

Real wood, and nevertheless cost-effective: “Par-ky” by Decospan

The “Par-ky” collection by Belgium’s Decospan seeks to get as close to nature as possible. “Par-ky” is neither laminate nor parquet, but combines the properties of both floor coverings: a low price and the quality of real wood. Thanks to a top layer consisting of 0.6 mm of real wood veneer that reproduces the natural grain of wood, as well as a HDF and cork board as the basis, “Par-ky” is a form of flooring that feels warm and is especially noise absorbent and resilient. The new “Par-ky Rough Cut” version additionally boasts an especially coarse grain. Which gives it a very varied look – and look like solid wood. The new surface texture is initially available in the “Par-ky Deluxe” version, but plans are to expand it to cover other collections, too.

“Glossart” by Falquon is digitally printed and made of an acrylic resin paint treated by electron. Photo © Falquon

Acrylic lacquer flooring with a perfect print: “Glossart” by Falquon

New digital printing techniques are re-engineering many a product world, not least of all floor coverings. One company that has devoted itself specifically to this topic is Falquon, domiciled in Pritzwalk in Northeast Germany. It has launched a new acrylic lacquer flooring based on HDF that catches the eye with its offbeat, digitally printed and photorealistic decors. The 15 patterns include marbling and even smashed glass effects. “Glossart” even offers you individual decors, and that includes photos that can be printed. The acrylic resin paint is treated by electron rays to make the floor abrasion and UV-proof. “Glossart” is available in strengths of 8 millimeter and in two formats: either 644 by 310 millimeters or 1295 by 310 millimeters, and both types click-fasten.

“Neo by Classen” is closing the gap between designer floors and natural floor coverings with a novel biocomposite material. Photo © Classen Holzkontor

Reuse, recycle, relax: “Neo by Classen”

Sustainability is a key issue in the flooring industry: Countless floorings are now made of recycled materials and can be re-inputted into the manufacturing cycle in line with the cradle-to-cradle principles. Laminate and designer flooring specialist Classen Holzkontor has taken its cue from this and launched “Neo by Classen” – thus closing the gap between designer floors and natural floor coverings. For the innovation is wholly made from a novel biocomposite that in turn is 50 percent wood fibers coated in polymers. Classen calls the material “Composite Solid Fiberboard” (CSF). Meaning that “Neo by Classen” doesn’t need PVC and plasticizers. The “Sealtec” coating ensures the flooring is very resistant to damp or UV rays. “Neo by Classen” is available with wood or stone decors, in addition to the format already on sale, at the DOMOTEX 2015 there’ll be a new XXL panel on show, sized 1,800 by 243 millimeters and 4.5 millimeters thick. “Neo by Classen” can be 100-percent recycled, making it an especially “green” product in the Classen portfolio.

In the form of “Tisca Forte Extreme” Tisca Tiara is presentinga very hard textile flooring. Photo © Tisca Tiara

Keep it clean: “Tisca Forte Extreme” by Tisca Tiara

Even if Buddhist monks love brushing, for good karma, cleaning and wiping are tasks that it’s great to have out of the way. But the idea is not just to assist the worthy housewife or houseman of today, as specifically in public spaces and in commercial premises that’s a mass to be kept clean – which is where Tisca Tiara helps out. In the form of “Tisca Forte Extreme” the Swiss manufacturers are now taking their tried-and-true textile hard flooring “Tisca Forte” that little bit further. The especially strong qualities, such as abrasion-proofing, non-fading, clean-off and easy-clean are all the result of pigment-dyed polyamide and cladding in a high-density yarn. And “Tisca Forte extreme” is a real eye-catcher thanks to 140 monochromes, also available in a ply version, as well as a pixeled pattern. Meaning there’s nothing to stop its use in areas where there’s a lot of wear and tear.

Belgian manufacturers Unilin says its new “Quick Step Impressive” laminate is absolutely waterproof, even the joints. Photo © Unilin

Absolutely waterproof: “Quick Step Impressive” by Unilin

Belgian manufacturers Unilin says its new “Quick Step Impressive” laminate (it’s especially tough in the “Ultra” version) is absolutely waterproof, even the joints. Because on top of the “Hydroseal” lacquer on the surface, the new laminate has joints with a “Hydroseal” water repellent as the edges of the laminate panels are treated in exactly the same way as the surface. Moreover, the chamfer is fine-tuned to the program’s 16 designs – the rustic versions such as “Sandblasted Oak” or “Scarped Oak” have a v-shaped chamfer, ensuring the visual effect of real wood parquet. “Quick Step Impressive” is a full 8 millimeters thick and the “Ultra” version actually 12 millimeters, and they’re also available in a fresh Nordic look or with an industrial feel.

“Pure Genius” wooden flooring by Lauzon destroys bacteria and improves the ambient air fragrance thanks to the “Actio 2” technology from Välinge innovation. Photo © Lauzon

Flooring as air purifier: “Actio 2” by Välinge Innovation

Flooring can be given bioactive properties thanks to special chemical processes. For example, Sweden’s Välinge Innovation has floated “Actio 2” – an antibacterial technology that can be applied to wooden floors, laminate floors and designer floors. “Actio 2” is based on a photo-catalytic process in which titanium dioxide nanoparticles break up organic molecules when exposed to sunlight. In this way, floor boasting the “Actio 2” technology can 98-percent destroy toxic formaldehydes, bacteria and mold in the air and significantly improve ambient air fragrance. This so-called photo-catalytic self-cleansing effect has been used for years now in other fields, such as for car rear-view mirrors. In addition to air purification, the nanoparticles give the flooring a particularly smooth surface – meaning dirt or water streaks have little chance of sticking. The first license went to Canada’s Lauzon, which is selling its “Pure Genius” wooden flooring complete with this technology.

Yarn maker Neofil has also declared war on bacteria – with “NAB” (“Neofil Antibacterial”), an antibacterial polyamide or polypropylene yarn. Photo © Neofil

Antibacterial yarn: “NAB” by Neofil

Yarn maker Neofil from Terni in Italy has also declared war on bacteria. At DOMOTEX 2015 it will be presenting its “NAB” (“Neofil Antibacterial”) as a product selected by Innovations@DOMOTEX: It is an antibacterial polyamide or polypropylene yarn that can be used for both carpet and clothes-making, for example for use in the field of sanitation. The germicide kills 99.9 percent of all bacteria is integrated into the fibers using a “solution-dyed” process during the manufacture of the endless yarn. Meaning the fibers retain the effect for years, even when cleaned intensively. Neofil was founded last year, but has its origins in a company in the 1970s. Its core product is “MBS” polypropylene yarn (formerly: “Meraklon Bulking System”). At DOMOTEX 2015 it will also be displaying “LBS” (its “Luxury Bulking System”) that has the same properties as “MBS” but has an especially strong gleam to it.

A continuous mixer in the “MAPEBox” from filler specialist Mapei means the filler is mixed ready and can be used on the spot. Photo © Mapei

Novelties in the field of floor laying

Innovations in applications, floor-care and laying methods are required to make the work of those laying the floor easier and more profitable. Which is why at the forthcoming DOMOTEX these categories will for the first time be featured at Innovations@DOMOTEX – and we present two of the especially exciting novelties below.

Clean and simple: filler in Mapei’s “MAPEBox”

It’s likely to grab the hearts of tradesmen and architects alike: the “MAPEBox” from filler specialist Mapei. A continuous mixer in the box means the filler is mixed ready and can be used on the spot – gone are the days of lugging sacks of filler and all the dust associated with mixing it up. The container box can take 800 kg of filler, is made of carton, and comes on a standard pallet. A pump gets the liquid filler (Mapei offers its proven “Ultraplan Eco” and “Planitex D10” appliances for this purpose) to upper floors, too. The continuous mixer and pump can be rented from Inotec if you want. And Mapei pledges that things are more efficient using a “MAPEBox” for areas of 130 sq.m. upwards than if you used a customary method.

The company’s product for underlay preparation “InstaLay”, a rubber mat made of recycled truck tires, renders the usual adhesives a thing of the past. Photo © Instafloor

Recycling par excellence: “InstaLay” by Instafloor

Instafloor is also busy making floor-laying easier: The company’s product for underlay preparation “InstaLay”, a rubber mat made of recycled truck tires, renders the usual adhesives a thing of the past. The mat is simply laid on the screed or on an already existing floor, the foil removed, and the self-adhesive function is activated, such that the flooring then only needs to be laid and pressed into place. In addition to the speed and efficiency “InstaLay” offers, it is also noise-absorbent and offsets unevenness in the floor. “InstaLay” can be used for wood, laminate, carpets and designer floors. It is available in thickness of 2.5, 3 and 5 millimeters. Needless to say, the product can be 100-percent recycled.