Archives for May 2022

Commercial Flooring and the Pandemic: 4 Top Trends

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the commercial flooring industry with issues ranging from supply chain delays to volatile pricing of raw materials due to unstable crude oil prices.

Many of these challenges can be attributed to four key trends, which will continue into the foreseeable future:

  1. Supply Chain Management Impacting Flooring Products and Building Materials

The pandemic has severely hampered supply chains which impact flooring products and building materials.

“Three or four week lead times used to be common, now we’re hearing twelve to eighteen weeks and some manufacturers have had to drop a product line entirely due to supply chain disruptions,”  Amanda Darley, Vice President of Marketing at Mannington Commercial noted in a recent company article.

supply chain management impact on commercial flooring

Supply chain management impacts on flooring and building materials.

What is happening to create these challenges?

  • Labour shortages

Many jobs have shifted from office to home-based. Also, many aging workers decided to retire or people voluntarily quit resulting in many industries experiencing worker shortages. This has taken place as demand for workers is rising and economies begin to reopen.

Changing demographics are a factor behind the shortages, according to economists, as well as border controls and immigration limits. Workers are also demanding better pay and more flexible working arrangements.

  • Raw Material Shortages

Raw materials disruptions, from lack of workers and supply chain issues have also delayed delivery of product. Items such as adhesives and resins used to make many flooring products are in short supply and impact flooring products.

In addition, the volatility in the prices of raw materials including polyvinyl chloride (PVC) due to unstable crude oil prices is also negatively impacting the market.

  • International Shipping and Transport Delays

The Washington Post recently reported that the world’s 1.89 million seafarers operate more than 74,000 merchant ships, providing transportation for roughly 90% of global trade. It’s an essential job, but also a lonely and dangerous one that requires months at sea, often with little ability to contact home or touch land.

The article went on to say that Covid worsened many of these floating workplaces, and seafarers worldwide are now rethinking their commitment to the trade. Industry leaders have warned that the pandemic will make it more difficult for them to hire workers for years to come.  As a result, the global supply chain could soon face a more debilitating challenge: a chronic labor shortage.

Compounding this problem is that ocean freight vessels and containers are limited in supply, and prices have skyrocketed. In addition to sea there’s also a problem on land. The shortage of truck drivers combined with increased shipping demand is stalling delivery times.

  1. Growth in the Resilient Segment

Commercial flooring and the ongoing pandemic has impacted specific segments. Until recently the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted worldwide supply as economies across the globe either delayed or suspended construction projects. However, as global trade restrictions ease and lockdowns lift, this year is expected to be the recovery year that leads to future growth.

Construction activity is now resuming and increasing, which is driving this growth , along with the commercial availability of resilient products.

A recent resilient flooring market report reveals luxury vinyl tile (LVT) accounted for more than 38% share of global revenue in 2020. LVT popularity is increasing due to advancements in design, technology, installation and its antimicrobial properties.

LVT leads resilient flooring segment

Market growth in the resilient segment.

  1. Increased Disinfection + Cleaning

As COVID-19 continues, there’s an increased emphasis on maintaining flooring with services that are designed to keep floors clean—and virus-free. From protocols, to equipment and disinfectants, there’s plenty to consider when deciding on the proper cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting of commercial flooring, states Floor Trends Magazine in a recent article.

Part of the resilient market growth mentioned above is coming from increased demand for slip-resistant and antibacterial flooring solutions.

Covid-19 flooring disinfection

Increased disinfection and cleaning of flooring in commercial spaces.

Resilient flooring applications are easier to maintain and sterilize. For example, LVT, is both cheaper than laminate or wood veneer and contains the spread of germs better as it has antimicrobial properties built into the finishing process.

Cork is an also sustainable, eco-friendly material that’s also naturally antimicrobial and water resistant. Ceramic tile can help prevent the spread of germs. There are also products being introduced with ceramic tile and grout infused with Microban technology, to protect against bacterial growth.

However, more data is still needed about how chemicals will affect interior finishes as there aren’t enough long-term studies regarding how these disinfectants will affect specific materials.  Flooring manufacturers need to provide more information about what chemicals can be safely used on floor surfaces as the increased need for disinfection continues . There’s not a lot of knowledge about what these disinfectants do to hard surfaces long term. Over time these issues could impact warranty.

  1. Increased Demand for Sustainable Solutions

Governments across the globe are launching sustainability initiatives that are expected to impact the future market and this commercial flooring trend has increased through the pandemic.

Key findings from a Reports and Data report reveals how government regulations restrict any use of harmful flooring materials and mandate producers to abide by the Leadership in Energy, and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions are increasing the scope of the market.

Flooring suppliers have been also been emphasizing sustainable products. Sustainability has been an expanding driver of growth in LVT due to the product’s length of service life, sourcing, ease of care and maintenance and associated health and safety benefits.

“I will say that there are signs that this has really galvanized the sustainability movement in a new way,” said Lisa Conway, vice president of sustainability Americas for Interface, in a recent interview with Floor Covering Weekly. “There is nothing like a major global disruption to show us that we need [to] take the present climate change threat more seriously. Seeing the pandemic unfold worldwide has brought home the reality that our interconnected global society is more vulnerable than we realized.”

sustainable flooring solutions

Increased demand for sustainable solutions.

In the article, Conway further explained that “As more people understand that the built environment contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming, we’re seeing the desire for low-carbon, carbon neutral and carbon negative building materials increase, especially within the commercial market,” from LVT to carpet tile.

Many leading flooring manufacturers agree that this trend will continue well into the future due to the ongoing pandemic. This will be a process that takes patience and ongoing communication. Managing expectations as lead times and deliverables are impacted will be key.

To see related articles regarding commercial flooring and the pandemic please click here.

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