U.S. Flooring Trends Good for Wood
A recent study projects laminate and hardwood flooring will continue to gain market share at the expanse of carpet and vinyl.
Slide over hardwood; there's going to be a new leader in town.
By 2009, U.S. demand for laminate flooring will overtake hardwood, surpassing the long-time favorite by a score of 1.85 billion square feet to 1.45 billion.
According to The Freedonia Group, which conducted the Hard Surface Flooring study, laminate flooring demand is forecast to grow 15 percent per year, compared to an annual growth rate in demand of 4.8 percent for hardwood flooring.
2014 projections also show laminate flooring outpacing hardwood flooring, with demand at 2.95 billion square feet compared to hardwood's 1.80 billion square feet. (See chart below)
Demand includes domestic as well as imported products.
According to Freedonia analyst Tonia Ferrell, the increased demand for laminate flooring can be attributed to its growing familiarity with consumers and builders, lower price point, and improved performance properties, including stain and fade resistance.
Increased style options are another driver of laminate flooring's popularity. With improvements in technology, such as embossed registration and texturing, laminate flooring can provide consumers with a cost-effective method for achieving the look of tiles, ceramics and woodgrains, Ferrell added.
Hardwood Shows Gains
Although laminate flooring can mimic the look of hardwood, most high-end residential and commercial applications still prefer "the real thing," Ferrell said. According to findings by Freedonia, this will help drive hardwood flooring demand's steady growth rate of 4.8 percent annually, through 2009. (See chart at right)
Currently, hardwood flooring holds the biggest share of the non-resilient flooring market, which also includes laminate flooring, ceramic tile, natural stone, bamboo and glass flooring. Hardwood flooring accounted for 42 percent of shipments, by area, in 2004, compared to laminate flooring's 25 percent, according to Freedonia.
The growth of both the hardwood and laminate flooring segments comes primarily at the expense of carpet and vinyl, Ferrell said, and is being driven by consumers' preferences for high-end, environmentally-responsible products in their homes.
The growth in shipments for both laminate and hardwood flooring reflects this trend.
According to Freedonia, wood flooring shipments are projected to grow from 1.0 billion square feet in 2004 to 1.2 billion square feet by 2009, and improve to 1.4 billion square feet by 2014.
Likewise, shipments of laminate flooring will grow measurably, from 575 million square feet in 2004, to 1.2 billion square feet in 2009, when it will draw even with hardwood flooring, according to Freedonia. By 2014, laminate flooring shipments will leap past hardwood shipments, to 1.9 billion square feet, Freedonia said.
Overall Market Trends
Building on the strength of the record housing growth and remodeling segment, overall demand for non-resilient flooring is projected to continue its 8.4 percent annual growth, reaching 6.9 billion square feet by 2009. Freedonia also projects shipments of non-resilient flooring to increase, 6.9 percent per year between 2004 and 2009.
The residential market continues to be the primary application for hardwood and laminate flooring, Ferrell said. However, she noted, "New [residential] construction is expected to weaken slightly - although it is still going to be healthy - but demand will be restrained from that."
A surging remodeling market, along with a burgeoning non-residential construction market, will compensate for any decline, she added.
"The [overall] increase in construction, has benefitted both hardwood and laminate flooring," said Bill Dearing, president of the North American Laminate Flooring Assn. and manager of market development for Pergo.
"Although hardwood flooring has seen the benefit quicker - because it is more entrenched with builders and the community at large is more familiar with it - I know, personally, that the laminate building business has been increasing dramatically," Dearing added.
Dearing's observation concurs with findings by Freedonia, which also projects growth - albeit a more moderate pace - for both laminate and hardwood flooring products in non-residential markets. According to Ferrell, commercial growth for non-resilient flooring is projected to grow 4.6 percent, per year, between 2004 and 2009.
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