By Reginald Tucker—Just when you thought Välinge was out of surprises, the company is looking to raise the bar with its latest suite of floor covering solutions. Several of these innovations, which were front and center here at its Surfaces booth, run the gamut from high-performance, waterproof flooring; new locking mechanisms that repel moisture; patented installation clips that allow fast installation of a wall paneling system; and a proprietary process designed to reduce the overall weight of SPC planks, thereby lowering shipping costs, among others.
First up is the Välinge Flooring Woodura Hardened wood line, which officially launched in 2020 but has since been expanded to include longer/wider formats. At the booth, the company showcased larger-format planks (10 3⁄4 x 94 inches) as well as 8 3⁄4 x 87-inch boards. Both formats can be laid using the company’s innovative click system for either a floated or glue-down installation.
“There’s no doubt that vinyl flooring has exploded in the US market, but 90% of the visuals in vinyl are wood,” said Zach Adams, general manager, Välinge North America. “That tells me people still want wood, but they also need performance. With Välinge Flooring Woodura Hardened Wood we have created that product, and it has been really well received. People love the fact that there’s no pattern repeat, which you see all the time in vinyl. But they also love the warmth, feel and acoustics of wood.”
More importantly, according to Adams, the company is able to offer all this at an affordable price point to consumers and end users in the market for extra-long and wide planks and boards. “Some of the large-dimension woods available in the market are priced outside the everyday person’s budget,” he explained. “In the past, if you wanted to get a 10 34-inch product in, you’re talking mid-teens per square foot. With our product—based on the core technology—the consumer can have it for anywhere between $5 to $8 per square foot. This is the product that customers see on Pinterest in $5 million homes but who then get sticker shock when they research the product and go to the retailer. We’ve created that product to fill the void.”
In some respects, according to Välinge, Woodura changes the game. “It’s almost as if we’ve created a new category,” said Lennart Thålin, regional manager, North & South Americas. “The product does not compete with vinyl, but it offers the performance of vinyl. At the same time, we’re not competing with high-end wood, although we offer the look of high-end hardwood.”
Välinge also plans to launch a commercial-grade Woodura product—a Class 33-rated product for medium to heavy applications. “In a commercial hardwood, it’s very rare to find a high-performance product that still maintains the integrity and natural beauty of the wood without oversaturating it with heavy acrylics,” Adams explained. “This new commercial product is really going to open up doors for us.”
Another innovation from Välinge comes in the form of an innovative process that alters the construction of SPC products. Dubbed Liteback, OEM manufacturers can have a product that’s 20% lighter—but no less durable—than traditional rigid core products. Resulting in a box that’s nearly 8 pounds lighter than standard cores, suppliers and their customers can save thousands of dollars in shipping costs.
How it works: A special production-line process carves symmetrical, horizontal grooves on the backside of the floorboard. This process reduces the overall weight of each panel while still providing structural integrity, the company said. The material that is removed in the process is recycled back into the production process, thereby reducing material consumption. This is especially critical in today’s environment where supply chain issues are wreaking havoc. “Through the removal of material from the core of resilient flooring, Liteback enables reduction of the weight of the final product by up to 20%,” Thålin explained.
Another noteworthy, problem-solving innovation from Välinge is 5G Dry, which is based on its signature 5G click system. Aside from expediting installation, the snap locking mechanism aims to prevent moisture, water or other spills from seeping through the top of the panels—all without use of special coatings or edge treatments, according to the company.
“Increasingly, in the American market, we’re seeing a higher demand for waterproof flooring,” Thålin said. “But if you have a waterproof floor without the proper locking system, you can still have water beneath the floor on the substrate. With 5G Dry, we have addressed this issue. Utilizing changes in the geometry of the locking system, we have come up with a way to keep water on the surface of the plank. It creates a water-tight seal on engineered wood flooring or resilient.”
In order to demonstrate 5G Dry’s capabilities, Välinge set up a display at the booth with standing water on the surface of the planks. After two days, the water did not seep below the planks. “The water will evaporate long before it has the chance to penetrate the boards,” Thålin said.
Other technology advances from Välinge include a new format and locking system that allows faster installation of herringbone patterns—an increasingly popular look in North American homes and commercial applications. To simplify installation for installers, planks in each box are marked accordingly (ie, “A” and “B” panels) and the herringbone strips feature 5G locking technology.
Then there’s Hygienius, a technology Välinge bills as an “invisible” room cleaner. How it works: A hardwood or resilient floor with Hygienius integrated in its lacquer layer enables a natural photocatalytic process to take place when exposed to daylight or indoor light. This allows harmful emissions and unpleasant odors to be broken down as well as degradation of bacteria, fungi and even virus on the surface.
“It makes the floor easier to clean because the surface has a hydrophobic effect,” Thålin explained. “Hygienius also makes it easier to remove dirt while minimizing unattractive moisture streaks. It also allows the flooring to dry more quickly when light mopping or cleaning up spills.”
Last but not least is a locking system that allows the floor layer or homeowner to install flooring panels (engineered wood, WPC or SPC) on the wall. Using specialized connecting clips, the boards can be easily snapped together for a fast, secure installation. “The homeowner can create a dramatic accent wall or companion design to the floor,” Thålin explained.