Locking systems fit today’s flooring needs

Water-resistance is one of the hottest features of hard surface flooring in the industry currently, and locking systems play a crucial role in preventing moisture from damaging the floors. Manufacturers of those locking systems have had to keep this trend at the forefront of their own innovations to ensure the performance of those floors, particularly as luxury vinyl tile (LVT), multilayer flooring (MLF), and new laminate and engineered wood products are gaining popularity.

Waterproof flooring was a heavily discussed topic at The International Surface Event (TISE) this year. However, it is not an entirely new concept, as some manufacturers have offered waterproof products for many years already, said John Rietveldt, CEO of Innovations4Flooring (I4F).

“The reality is that more and more products in the market are now promoting themselves as ‘waterproof,’” Rietveldt said. “This is due to the increasing amount of PVC flooring in the market that lends itself well to waterproof products. For products with a wood-based core, the locking system is critical as it must fully seal the joints in order to be able to keep the water out. Multiple tests have been carried out with our 3L TripleLock and they have showed positive results.”

I4F’s one piece drop-lock is the future and fast becoming the standard in the market because it's easy to install as well as easy to produce, Rietveldt said.

Välinge Innovation’s 5G locking systems are tailored for fold down installation of all flooring types from engineered wood floor to the latest LVT and MLF products (down to 4 mm thickness). Välinge’s most recent developments have been focused on further optimizing the 5G and 5G-i locking systems to enable flexible pattern installations such as herringbone. With its glass fiber-reinforced tongue placed on the folding panel, 5G offers this versatility in wood and laminate floors, according to Niclas Håkansson, CEO of Välinge Innovation.

During 2017, a record number of patents were granted to manufacturer Välinge, adding 350 new patents to its patent portfolio that now includes more than 1,850 granted and enforceable patents. More than 200 of those patents are related to floor locking technologies such as 2G and 5G fold down locking systems for wood, laminate, powder-based flooring and resilient flooring categories.

At TISE this year, Mohawk Flooring introduced its new RevWood and RevWood Plus flooring, using a three-prong approach to create a totally waterproof laminate floor, including the use of a beveled edge, sealant and Unilin’s Uniclic locking system. Unilin first created its locking system when laminate flooring was introduced to the flooring industry. 

But as other categories have seen the need for locking systems – particularly LVT, MLF and even engineered wood – there have been continual modifications to meet the needs of those specific industries. The basic premise of the locking system is to hold the floor tight through installation. Mohawk Flooring’s rigid core products like SolidTech have vastly grown their locking system usage as those products have become more popular, said Adam Ward, senior director of hardwood and laminate for Mohawk Industries.