Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How to sell laminate & vinyl to your customer.

There are a number of ways a customer might approach floor choices but for the sake of this exercise lets assume a fairly common occurrence; the homeowner wants “wooden floors”. Now there are several ways you as an in-store consultant could handle this. For a start you should point out that the customer is not limited to so-called hardwood flooring i.e. natural cut wood. The trouble with natural wood though is that it is expensive and requires substantial maintenance which often need sanding and resurfacing after five or six years of use. Another big problem with natural hardwood is that it  stains.

For an almost impervious floor there are wood-look ceramic or porcelain tiles. The new ink-jet produced tiles are particularly impressive but a fairly expensive option.

More likely the customer will be interested in laminate or vinyl flooring. Unlike hardwood floors, laminate floors are resistant to stains and damage.

In general laminate and vinyl floors are more durable and longer-lasting than many of the materials they imitate, and higher-end designs can be used anywhere in the home. Because they have a durable coating on top, they don't scratch or gouge as easily as hardwoods do.

However, if a laminate floor isn't properly maintained, for example, if you let water collect between the planks, edge swelling can result. This isn't typically covered under the warranty. Many budget-brand laminate floors can't be used in bathrooms or kitchens because of moisture issues. If you're installing laminate flooring in a high-traffic area, choosing a budget brand may mean that the wear layer will fade after a few years. This also isn't covered by the warranty.

Both flooring types are made of layers laminated together. The difference is in what those layers are made of and what that implies for performance. There's no point is asking "What's best?", as always it's really a matter of fitness for purpose.

Traditional laminate wood flooring is made of; a transparent wear layer, a printed paper decor layer, high density fiberboard (HDF) and a thin backing layer for stability. Laminate comes in various thicknesses from 7 mm (light domestic) to 12mm (commercial grade) and is fairly rigid.

Luxury Vinyl Tile or LVT, is made of a thick wear layer then a Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) layer onto which the design is printed directly. A sound-proofing EVA foam layer is mounted to the bottom. LVT is somewhat flexible.

The big difference between them is that Vinyl is waterproof whereas Laminate is only water resistant; flooding may well cause swelling and warping so laminate cannot be installed in bathrooms and other wet areas.

Laminate is cheaper than composite or vinyl, but it does require more surface preparation as it has a tendency to reflect any imperfections in the underfloor over time.

Underlayer. Composite and Luxury Vinyl generally have an integrated foam rubber (EVA) layer that cushions the floor and adds to thermal and sound insulation whereas Laminate requires a separate underlayer and thus more complex pre-installation preparation.

Both laminate and vinyl are generally supplied with a modern glueless locking systems like our licensed and patented 1Lock system which make it very easy to install and prevents slippage in both directions.

In summary; traditional laminate is cheaper but more difficult to install. It is inclined to separate if exposed to water. Vinyl is somewhat more expensive but waterproof and easier to install. Luxury Vinyl in particular is very forgiving of imperfections in the base floor.

In addition both laminate and vinyl floors have the following advantages:
  • They are an eco-friendly choice because they are largely made from recycled material.
  • They are hygienic and allergen free and do not easily harbor house mites the way that carpets do.
  • They don’t need special cleaning machinery like polishers or special products like oils and polishes.
  • They are highly impact resistant yet will not easily crack.
  • They are stain resistant, especially from simple water spills that would mark hardwood flooring.
  • They are burn resistant and will not ignite.
  • They are fade resistant and colour stable even to UV light.
  • They are scratch resistant and will not splinter.
  • They are easy to clean and maintain with simple cleaning materials and basic cleaners.
  • Lastly they are easy to install or deinstall. Laminate or vinyl can be undertaken as a DIY project if the instructions are followed carefully.

Download our laminate & vinyl brochures here

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The 5 top reasons to sell your customer ink-jet printed tiles.

When a customer comes in to select tiles they may well notice that some of your stock is "digital ink-jet". What do you say when they ask whether this is a good choice?

Firstly point out that until fairly recently most tiles were produced using a screen or roller print system but that inkjet is now becoming more and more popular. Today 35% of all tiles are ink-jet printed. Digital ink-jet tiles are a better choice.
These are the reasons why...

1. Resolution. Inkjet tiles are typically printed at about the same resolution as a quality magazine; around 300 dpi (dots per inch) but may be as high as 1000 dpi. In other words, your naked eye cannot resolve the dots that make up the image and it looks smooth and natural, this especially true of intricate designs.

2. Colour consistency. Because ink-jet tiles are produced from digital computer images they are controlled by what's called a Digital Colour Profile. This means that each time the tile is reprinted the colour is computer controlled to be exactly the same, in other words the design is reproducable. This is a big advantage if the customer wants a new batch of the same tiles for say a new room extension.

3. Accuracy. Ink-jet tiles are generally designed based on a high resolution photograph or scan of real natural stone or wood or even the patina on metal. Because the process is digital, even design adjustments will look just like the real thing!

4. Variation. The digital process means that multiple faces of a tile design can be produced during the same production run because the computer controlling the printing just feeds the ceramic printer a different instruction stream.

5. Texture, relief and edge. Accurate textures and in-register relief (such as for wood grain) can be produced because unlike roller and screen printing, ink-jet printing is a non-contact process so the ceramic printer can jet patterns onto on a textured tile surface. The textture  or structure is added to the ceramic tile ‘biscuit’ earlier during the pressing process. The printhead is then able to jet ink into the recesses that screen and roller printing cannot reach. Unlike traditional decoration, digital inkjet printers can also decorate right to the edge of the tiles, eliminating white edges and creating seamless expanses of tile.

Ink-jet is the future and it's available now!
Download our Digital ink-jet KREM and TESSCERA tile brochures here.
For any other inquiries about tiles, taps, sanitaryware, laminate & vinyl flooring please send us an email.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Dealing with tile complaints: Hollow-sounding tiles can mean poor installation.

Test for hollowness.
When you receive a tile failure complaint like cracking and lifting, one of the first and most easily conducted tests you should perform is to check whether the tiles sound hollow. This can be a indication that the tiles were poorly laid, in which case the so-called failure is not the responsibility of the tile supplier or manufacturer but of the installer. In general hollow-sounding tiles are an indication that the adhesive does not have a good bond between the tiles and the substrate or that there are hollow voids of missing adhesive under the tiles. As the floor was used and subjected to foot traffic, the tiles that were nor correctly laid may have cracked or even lifted off the floor (debonded).

What bad tillers do.
The number one way for a bad tiler to cut corners and keep materials costs down is to use the bare minimum of tile adhesive. Typically this is done by putting a blob of adhesive under the corner of each tile and one in the center. This is called spot-bonding and is completely contrary to all local and international standards. The tile thus has an empty void underneath and is un-supported.

One problem leads to another.
Spot-bonding does not meet industry standards for the 80% coverage required for residential floors or the 95% coverage required for commercial floors, exterior applications and interior wet applications. Spot-bonding also reduces the bond strength of the tile and its attachment to the substrate, making it more susceptible to stress and causing debonding under certain conditions. Voids that occur with spot-bonding become pockets for water and moisture to collect, which could lead to efflorescence and other moisture-related problems. The lack of support beneath the voids also make the tile more vulnerable to cracking damage from live loads such as falling heavy objects, heavy equipment, rolling vehicles, loaded dollies, carts and even normal foot traffic.

How to check.
A simple way to check for the sound in question is to tap on the tiles with a hard object such as a thick coin or a steel ball bearing. Chains or special sounding devices can be used for larger areas. If the tile is well bonded (i.e. attached to the concrete substrate), it will have a high-pitched sound. If you hear a lower-pitched or a hollow sound, this indicates that  tiles have either debonded or were never bonded to the substrate.

A low tone is not an absolute indicator of debonding however. A low-pitched sound can also occur if the tile is installed over a less-dense substrate like wood, a sound-control mat or other membrane. Notice if the hollow-sounding tiles are grouped together or are the spread out randomly. If an entire tile installation sounds hollow it may be a result of the type of substrate that was used and not an indication of a problem. Generally there are other symptoms like loose or cracked tile and grout. Consider the solid-sounding tiles: do they have the same problem but haven’t debonded yet and might at a later date?

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Transitions: From tiles to wooden floors.

How to use transitions between tile and wooden floors.

Wooden floors, whether natural hardwood, laminate or luxury vinyl have become very popular for many home owners in recent years. So what's the big issue with floor transitions? The answer is simple. Because modern glueless click systems are well engineered and reliable most DIY flooring projects normally turn out well except for one detail, the transitions between two floor types look terrible. Whether you’re installing solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, laminate, or tile the issue is the same. You need to plan the floor transitions before you start any flooring installation. Advise your customers on transitions and sell them the appropriate strips.

There are several basic issues that arise at floor transitions.

Elevation – The final floor elevation of each type of material is a major issue that needs proper attention in order for your new floor to look great and not become a maintenance issue. Elevation changes are fairly common in remodeling projects when sub-floors can’t easily be adjusted for different flooring thicknesses. Using a reducer is the easiest way to take care of this problem. This can occur if you install a hardwood or laminate floor over an existing floor adjacent to a flooring material that will not be changing.

Location of Transition - The actual location that you stop one flooring type and start another within a door opening, cased opening or room separation is a very important aesthetic consideration.

Special Transitions – Stairways can pose some interesting transitions that need special attention and transition pieces. We'll discuss staircases in more detail another time.

There are two main types of transitions pieces:

Reducer T-mould

Reducers also called overlap reducers are used to create a smooth transition between floors of different height. Typically the reducer is wood or MDF and is matched to the wooden floor. Reducers also protect the edge of the wood from foot traffic. An overlap squarenose is similar but with square ends rather than curves.

T-moulds are used to bridge two areas of flooring that are the exact same height. The T-moulding overlaps the exposed edges and is secured to the sub floor, often in an aluminium channel but never to the floor itself. Generally this piece is used as the transition between rooms or as an expansion gap in the same wooden floor.

Make yourself familiar with the various flooring accessories and their uses and advise customers accordingly, after all it's increasing your sales

Download our KREM and TESSCERA tile brochures here.
Download our LAMADEIRA laminate and vinyl brochures here.
For any other inquiries about tiles or laminate & vinyl flooring please send us an email.

The Link International team.